NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2017
Latest on the Canucks, Oilers, Kings, Ducks and Stars in your NHL rumor mill.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently speculated the Vancouver Canucks “will be sniffing around for centres” this summer. He felt they’ll have interest in Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and expected the Oilers will want an offensive defenseman in return. While he thinks Carolina Hurricanes blueiner Justin Faulk would be the Oilers’ first choice, Matheson wondered if the Canucks might give up promising prospect Olli Juolevi or right-shot Troy Stecher.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Oilers are willing to part with Nugent-Hopkins, who’s their second-line center. While it’s possible, the Oilers will have to address his absence. They could slide Leon Draisaitl into that role, but then they’ll need to replace him at right wing on Connor McDavid’s line.
Matheson wondered how much it’ll cost the Anaheim Ducks to re-sign defenseman Cam Fowler and pending UFA winger Patrick Eaves. Would they pay Eaves $10 million over three years?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks reportedly intend to re-sign Fowler, who has a year left on his contract, this summer. As for Eaves, I don’t see them paying that much to keep him. Perhaps he’ll accept $2 million per season to remain with the Ducks? They’re also going to lose one of their good young blueliners to the expansion draft in June, and could trade one of them for a scoring forward.
Matheson speculated the LA Kings will protect four defensemen (Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and the emerging Derek Forbort) in the upcoming expansion draft. He listed Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson as their likely protected forwards.
Speaking of the Kings, Matheson wondered if they’ll use Martinez as trade bait to land a younger scoring winger such as Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk or Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings must do something to bolster their scoring punch at forward and they lack the cap space to address the problem this summer. Shopping Martinez for a scoring winger is one option.
The Dallas Stars will try to convince the Vegas Golden Knights to take one of their expensive goalies (Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi), but Matheson felt the Knights could seek at least a second-round pick and a young prospect such as promising Julius Honka.
Matheson also suggested Vancouver Canucks pending UFA goalie Ryan Miller as a possible backup for the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given their limited cap space and their need to bolster their scoring depth, I doubt the Kings pursue Miller. They’ll likely seek a much more affordable backup.