NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2016
Latest on Jacob Trouba, Brent Burns, Johnny Gaudreau and more in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Regarding the Winnipeg Jets’ asking price for defenseman Jacob Trouba, Bob McKenzie reports they seek a defenseman with a left-hand shot of similar age, experience and potential, which could be difficult to get. He notes the Anaheim Ducks aren’t trading Hampus Lindholm, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t trading Morgan Rielly and the Arizona Coyotes aren’t trading Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
McKenzie claims more than half the teams in the league have interest in the 22-year-old Trouba, citing the Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers as having “significant interest” if the Jets are willing to change the parameters of their asking price. He feels this could be a long, drawn-out affair.
Darren Dreger said teams were making offers for Trouba several months prior to the blueliner’s recent trade request. He claims the interest is vast, from the lower-level teams in the league to the defending Stanley Cup champions. However, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff won’t make a move until he gets the right return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff has until Dec. 1 (the due date for re-signing RFAs) to move Trouba, so he can afford to take his time. But as McKenzie points out, finding a comparable player in return won’t be easy. Should this situation drag on into November, Cheveldayoff could be forced to change his asking price. Doesn’t mean he won’t get a good return if he does this, but he won’t get that young, skilled left-handed shot to play on the left side of his blueline. His club’s early-season performance and perhaps changing roster needs could also affect what Cheveldayoff seeks for a return.
Regarding San Jose Sharks pending unrestricted free agent Brent Burns, Pierre LeBrun reports the blueliner isn’t in any hurry to negotiate a contract extension. While he loves living and playing in San Jose, he wants to take his time before making the most significant decision of his career. The Sharks have made re-signing Burns their top priority, perhaps a long-term deal to get a more favorable cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Burns and the Sharks will reach an agreement on a five-year deal worth an annual average cap hit of $7 million before his UFA eligibility next summer. He’s invaluable to their offensive attack.
McKenzie said there’s no talks right now between the Calgary Flames and winger Johnny Gaudreau. He notes Gaudreau’s lack of NHL experience means he’s not actually a restricted free agent, making him ineligible to receive an offer sheet from a rival club. He also doesn’t have any RFA rights whatsoever. The Flames prefer to re-sign him to between $6.375 million (Sean Monahan’s new contract) to $6.75 million (Mark Giordano’s annual cap hit), but the Gaudreau camp reportedly seeks over $8 million per. McKenzie feels, however, there’s plenty of time to get a deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau really doesn’t have much leverage other than to stage a holdout, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s re-upped to a seven- or eight-year deal at $7 million per season.
Dreger also speculates the Pittsburgh Penguins could keep an eye on the waiver wire if they feel they need a short-term replacement for sidelined goalie Matt Murray.
TSN 1040 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie isn’t sure the Vancouver Canucks have the assets to get into the bidding for Trouba. Noting the Canucks have Alex Edler, Ben Hutton and Luca Sbisa on the left side, he suggest maybe Hutton “plus, plus, or whatever”, though he doesn’t see Hutton as a natural fit for the Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks expressed interest in Trouba. However, I agree with McKenzie that they lack suitable assets to land him.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz notes the New York Islanders could start the upcoming season with a logjam in goal. They’ve got Jarosav Halak, Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube under contract. Berube acknowledged the possibility he could open the season spending much of his time in the press box as he did last season until Halak was sidelined.
While a trade at some point could remedy the situation, Gretz notes that won’t be easy. Trading Halak, an option the Isles considered in the offseason, doesn’t make sense because currently there’s not a market for a starting goaltender. Berube has upside and the Isles, is the youngest of the trio and carries an affordable cap hit. Greiss is eligible next summer for UFA status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles’ preference appears to be a tandem of Greiss and Berube. Halak’s strong play in the World Cup of Hockey could bolster his trade value, but as Gretz points out, there’s currently no market for starting goalies. That could change in the opening weeks of the season. If Halak remains healthy and continues playing well, I expect the Isles will move him at the first opportunity.