Check out the latest on the Edmonton Oilers, Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports the Oilers still lack “an elite puck-mover and power play ace” among their top-four defensemen. Considering GM Peter Chiarelli overpaid to add a right-handed defenseman for his top pairing (Tayler Hall for Adam Larsson), Staples believes it makes little sense to ship out either Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for an attacking blueliner. He suggests a veteran bottom-pairing rearguard who can help on the power play (such as Calgary Flames blueliner Dennis Wideman or UFA James Wisniewski) shouldn’t be impossible to acquire before the start of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Signing Wisniewski would be easier than trying to swing a trade with the Flames for Wideman. It’ll be interesting to see how Chiarelli addresses this issue. He could target teams that risk losing a skilled defenseman in next summer’s expansion draft. Considering that he gave away Hall for Larsson, he could be squeezed to part with Eberle or RNH.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton notes the Detroit Red Wings’ recent re-signings of forward Teemu Pulkkinen and Luke Glendening leaves GM Ken Holland with five spare forwards. Two of them (Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale) are likely to start the season on long-term injured reserve. It’s also possible promising forward Anthony Mantha (waiver-exempt) could be demoted to begin the season. Holland could draw upon that forward depth to acquire a top-four defenseman via trade. Pulkkinen, Mantha and Tomas Jurco could become trade candidates, but Clinton doesn’t rule out the possibility of Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar being swapped for a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring a top-pairing defenseman could cost someone like Mantha or Jurco package with a first-round pick. I still think it’ll cost them Nyquist or Tatar to bring in that top-four blueliner. Holland is willing to be patient, as he recently said his search could stretch into training camp and preseason.
THE VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma speculates Canucks GM Jim Benning could go the trade route to bring in a second-line left winger. Benning stresses he’s not using winger Jannik Hansen as trade bait to address that issue.