NHL Rumor Mill – December 29, 2016
Artemi Panarin’s new contract could force the Chicago Blackhawks into a salary-dumping deal this summer, latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and an update on the New York Islanders in your NHL rumor mill.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Chris Hine and Mark Lazerus anticipate Artemi Panarin’s new two-year, $12-million contract extension will force the cap-strapped Chicago Blackhawks to shed some salary. Hine suggests center Marcus Kruger ($3.1 million) could become a trade candidate. Lazerus speculates Kruger or defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk ($825K) could be plucked away in June’s expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights. Both expect another salaried player will also have to be moved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks currently have over $66 million invested in 15 players for 2017-18. They’ll also have to re-sign or replace notable free agents such as goaltender Scott Darling, defenseman Brian Campbell and forward Richard Panik. Assuming another marginal increase in the salary cap to $75 million next season, that leaves the Hawks with less than $9 million to work with.
Stars such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Artem Anisimov all have full no-movement clauses. I don’t see any of them being asked to accept a trade.
Corey Crawford and Niklas Hjalmarsson also have no-movement clauses, as well as modified no-trade clauses. I don’t expect them to ask Crawford, one of the NHL’s elite goalies, to waive his clause, but I can see them approaching Hjalmarsson ($4.1 million) about doing so.
Assuming Kruger gets selected in the expansion draft, trading Hjalmarsson would free up over $7 million in cap room for the Blackhawks, giving them more room to flesh out the remainder of their roster for next season and still remain cap compliant. Don’t look for any significant salary-dumping trades to happen before March 1. Those moves will take place at some point in the offseason.
FANRAG.COM: Chris Nichols cites NHL analyst Darren Dreger’s recent appearance on NBCSN in which he suggests the St. Louis Blues as a possible destination for Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. While Dreger believes the Blues have “made their bed” with current starter Jake Allen, he wonders if they might look at acquiring Fleury if they’re among the Stanley Cup contenders or if their goaltending struggles. Nichols notes Allen’s four-year, $17.4-million contract extension kicks in next season, while Fleury is still under contract for two more seasons at a cap hit of $5.75 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think Fleury, who has a no-movement clause with a modified no-trade, will accept going to a team where he’ll once again have to share the starter’s job with a rising young netminder. He’ll want to be the clear-cut starter.
I also think the Blues priority right now is improving their depth at center. If they want to bolster their goaltending, I think they’ll look at someone other than Fleury. Maybe they consider pursuing Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop as a rental player by March 1, but even that scenario appears unlikely.
NEWSDAY: Responding to a reader’s question regarding a possible trade by the New York Islanders, Arthur Staple believes if a deal were to be had, GM Garth Snow would’ve made it by now. Staple thinks the Isles explored the possibility of acquiring Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene but balked at the expensive asking price.
Regarding their three-goalie situation, Staple feels they’d love to dump the final season of Jaroslav Halak’s contract and retain Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube. However, there’s no change yet in the current situation. Staple also doubts defenseman Johnny Boychuk will waive his no-trade clause.