NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2016
Speculation links Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov to the Chicago Blackhawks plus the latest on the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Bob McKenzie commented on speculation out of Chicago suggesting the Blackhawks could acquire Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov. While a trade is not imminent, McKenzie said that’s not to suggest the two clubs haven’t discussed it. The Blackhawks still wish to assess their young players, while the Oilers would have to pick up part of Yakupov’s $2.5 million salary for this season.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples weighs in on the rumor, noting McKenzie’s analysis and that of Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, who reports the Blackhawks would “send AHL player/s to EDM, and likely ask” the Oilers to retain part of Yakupov’s salary. He also points out the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus suggesting Yakupov, who “isn’t all that good,” would be an “odd fit” for the Blackhawks. Lazerus adds it could speak to how dire things are at forward for the ‘Hawks.
Staples said the Oilers tried for many months to move Yakupov. “If another NHL team (maybe Chicago, but maybe an Anaheim or Montreal or the Rangers or Dallas even) only has to pay a mid-round pick to take Yakupov, that’s an excellent bet for them to make,” writes Staples. “You give up almost nothing. In return you get a highly, highly motivated player on a reasonable one-year deal who might crack your second line and help out your power play.”
Jim Matheson also voiced his opinion on the subject, noting the Blackhawks were mocked last January for picking up forward Richard Panik, who went on to play well for them in the playoffs against the St. Louis Blues. He suggests Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov did a good job mentoring young Russian teammate Artemi Panarin last season and could do the same for Yakupov. Matheson also points out the Blackhawks limited cap room means the Oilers must pick up part of Yakupov’s salary.
PITTSBURGH POST GAME: CBS Pittsburgh’s Dan Kingerski wonders if the Penguins, who took on a fading Justin Schultz from the Oilers last season, would be interested in Yakupov. He reports Oilers scouts have taken in several Penguins preseason games. Kingerski notes TSN’s Darren Dreger’s recent report on the winger’s declining trade value. Yakupov’s $2.5 million salary, however, would be an issue, as the Penguins have about $1 million in cap space for the upcoming season. At this point, however, Kingerski believes the chances are slim that the Penguins acquire Yakupov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers want to move Yakupov, but to do so means shipping him to a team with the cap space willing to take on his salary or agreeing to pick up a significant portion of that salary. The latter is most likely the only workable option for cap-strapped clubs such as the Blackhawks and Penguins. The discussions between the Oilers and ‘Hawks are apparently ongoing, so this speculation probably won’t die down anytime soon.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the Anaheim Ducks will have to shed salary once they re-sign restricted free agents Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. LeBrun feels defenseman Cam Fowler ($4 million cap hit) is the likeliest to be dealt, noting a number of clubs were interested in the blueliner at this year’s NHL Draft.
TODAY’S SLAPSHOT: Speaking on TSN 1040, Bob McKenzie reports there’s some progress in the Ducks negotiations with Rakell. He also suggested Lindholm and the Ducks closed a gap in their talks, though McKenzie adds that’s not to say it’s still not considerable. He also believes they’ll have to ship out someone like Fowler to free up cap space for those two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks currently have around $7.5 million in cap space. Re-signing those two could take more than that. If they intend to re-sign the pair before the start of the season on Oct. 12, they’ll have to make that salary-dumping deal by Oct. 11 in order to be cap compliant. The Ducks placed Clayton Stoner ($3.25 million) on waivers yesterday, but it’s unlikely a rival club will pick him up. If he clears and is demoted, the Ducks will only receive $950K in cap relief. Depending on the cost of re-signing Lindholm and Rakell, it might not be enough.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports there’s been some contract discussions between Calgary Flames management and the agent for Johnny Gaudreau. McKenzie believes Gaudreau seeks a deal comparable to that of St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko ($7.5 million per season) while the Flames prefer less than that.
Pierre LeBrun claims the Flames are among four teams with interest in unrestricted free agent defenseman (and former Flame) Kris Russell, but they’ve obviously got some salary juggling to do. That could allow one of those other clubs to come through with an offer for Russell. It’s expected Russell could be signed by next week.
McKenzie said there’s been some thought to move the contract of defenseman Ladislav Smid ($3.5 million), who’s sidelined for the season with an ongoing neck injury. However, there’s no certainty that gets done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Such a move could also cost the Flames a quality prospect or a significant draft pick.
McKenzie also reports there’s no indication of progress in contract discussions between the Tampa Bay Lightning and RFA winger Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning also have significant cap issues.