NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2017

by | Jun 2, 2017 | Rumors | 53 comments

Don’t expect the Washington Capitals to trade Alex Ovechkin this summer.

Updates on Alex Ovechkin, Jordan Eberle, Ilya Kovalchuk and more in your NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector took note of remarks by Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan in his recent press conference leaving open the slight possibility of trading team captain Alex Ovechkin at some point “if there’s a legitimate hockey deal.” MacLellan also said such a move makes no sense “from an organizational point of view,” adding that Ovechkin remains “a big part of our franchise, a big part of our history.”

Spector considers an Ovechkin trade nearly impossible for the Capitals to make. He cites the winger’s contract ($9.5 million annual salary-cap hit for four more seasons with a 10-team no-trade clause), the possibility of a decline in performance now that he’s in his early-thirties (32) and the fact such a move would have to be approved by team owner Ted Leonsis as factors working against such a move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trust “Cousin Mark” to toss cold water on the Ovechkin speculation by using common sense. Yes, any player can be traded and yes, MacLellan’s comments certainly caused a ripple of excitement among NHL insiders. But let’s be honest, Ovechkin’s not going anywhere.  

MacLellan was merely responding to a question from a reporter suggesting a hypothetical scenario where Ovechkin might be dealt. And while many folks focused on his remark about moving his captain if a legitimate hockey trade offer was made, the fact of the matter is there’s no offer coming for Ovechkin that will improve the Capitals’ championship hopes for next season.

MacLellan made that clear in his response. “He’s been a big part of where we’re at as an organization and just to casually say, ‘Let’s trade him?’ For what? For who?” Bottom line is the Capitals still believe they can contend for the Cup next season and they believe their chances are better with Ovechkin in the lineup.

The only scenario in which I see Ovechkin being shopped is if the Capitals decide to blow up the roster and rebuild. That certainly doesn’t seem to be their plan heading into this offseason. 

TSN.CA: In a recent interview with Pierre LeBrun, Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli admitted he’ll eventually have to move a salary to free up cap room to re-sign Leon Draisailt and Connor McDavid. While Jordan Eberle ($6 million cap hit) was a frequent topic of trade chatter this season, Chiarelli stopped short of saying the winger could be moved. Indeed, the Oilers GM feels Eberle has been unfairly portrayed in the media.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli isn’t going to publicly admit he’s shopping Eberle or anyone eise on his roster. He also doesn’t have to move anyone this summer, but he will have to make a move by next summer to clear cap room for an expensive contract extension for McDavid. Eberle, Ryan Nuguent-Hopkins ($6 million annually) or Benoit Pouliot ($4 million) could become trade candidates, though moving their contracts won’t be easy. 

NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero said Ilya Kovalchuk’s possible return to the NHL comes down to the winger. Shero said Kovalchuk still wants to return to the league, but Shero isn’t holding his breath waiting for a decision. Kovalchuk has permission to speak with other clubs about a potential sign-and-trade scenario with the Devils, who own his NHL rights. He cannot sign a new contract until July 1 and is exempt from the expansion draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Some media speculation linked Kovalchuk with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens. There’s no indication his representatives have actually spoken with those clubs yet.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports there’s speculation Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning could be looking at moving up in the draft order. The Canucks currently hold the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes there’s been discussions between the Canucks and the Dallas Stars, who hold the third-overall pick, but such a move could be difficult for Benning to pull off. The Stars are carrying three goalies and Johnston wonders if they could be convinced to package their pick with Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks reportedly hope to bring back Ryan Miller next season. Johnston also doesn’t rule out a trade to bring in a goalie. However, it’s unlikely they’ll want Niemi or Lehtonen and I doubt the Stars will agree to package their first-rounder in such a deal. 



  1. Some of these so-called “journalists” – and not just in the sports world – have “scrum” questions down to a fine art, designed to elicit a response based upon “hypothetical” scenarios which they then present as a possibility – all designed to sell newspapers or titillate viewers/listeners. Sort of like the proverbial “have you stopped beating your wife?” question for which there is NO answer that doesn’t get you in trouble. Unless you’re a Tortorella who stares you in the eye and says “you’re an idiot.”

    • It’s like the journalistic version of creating a click bait thumbnail.

  2. I’m not sure any team is anxious to acquire Kovalchuk unless its next year when he becomes a UFA on a 1 year show me deal.

    • depending on salary and cost to acquire I’m sure many teams are eager to add a top 6 winger for what would likely be under market value

  3. Where is the Corey Perry for Ovie talk? Two declining wingers who make their $ on the powerplay

    • Why do this, it wouldn’t change anything? One declining winger for another. I have a Pepsi if you want a Coke.

      • cokes better

      • Agreed. Coke is better.

      • Pepsi!

      • Vinegar

  4. This deal wouldn’t happen but imagine a Malkin for Ovi swap where Washington retains to make salaries the same. Crosby with Ovi on his wing

    • I would not trade 2 Ovies for 1 Malkin.

    • Trading Malkin for OV makes no sense unless the Caps are adding. Kessel was supposed to be unstoppable with Crosby and look how that didn’t happen. I’ll keep Malkin and make Guentzel and Sheary both 30 goal scorers next year playing with Crosby.

      • Kessel also got much fatter. French Fry Phil is “rounding” out his game nicely I would say

      • Yeah, I’ll take “Fat Phil” on my team any day, what 22 points last year, 19 so far this playoffs, doing what he is suppose to and helping the pens hopefully win a 2nd cup.

        But Toronto fans are right, you just can’t win with “Fat Phil”

      • Oh I never said I wouldn’t take him. The guy can put up points. He just isn’t a 200 foot player. Mind you, if you put up those points you just need to be a + player. Leafs fault was that they tried to build a team around him. He’s a complementary piece, not a centerpiece.

        Even as a Pens fan though, you have to admit that i the final 3 years of Kessel’s contract it’s going to look pretty bad if his weight keeps climbing and his speed keeps dropping.

      • Kessel has paid them already with his performance the last two playoff years and last year he did it with bonino and Hagelin.
        He was the best thing about the Leafs when he was in Toronto too.
        Pittsburgh isn’t regretting this deal….ever

      • if you win even 1 cup its worth it… potentially two or more? even if phil looks like fat albert out there for the last couple years of his deal totally worth it.

      • Oh I’m not arguing that. I think he trade worked out for both teams in the long run. It essentially breaks down now to Kessel for Andersen, Kapanen and Rychel (after the movement of assets from Kessel deal

      • Bigboss also in the leafs trades with kessle was giving up seguin,Hamilton,knight and someone else I can’t think of

    • A lot of attention gets paid to the lottery the Pens won, and rightly so, to get Crosby.

      Not enough attention is paid to the lottery that they “lost”. In 2004, they had a worse record than the Capitals (despite the Caps calling up an ECHL goalie for the final weeks to start for them) but lost the lottery and the Caps got Ovechkin and the Pens had to “settle” for Malkin.

      Turns out we won that lottery, too.

    • They’d need to throw in Backstrom with that Malkin trade. Ovechkin doesn’t even come close to Malkin’s talent

  5. There is speculation out there that Kovalchuk wants to play in the Olympics and if that’s the case he won’t be coming back until the games are over.

    • Who really cares about Kovalchuk?

      • lots of teams that need scoring.
        LA maybe if they can get NJ to take a contract back?
        Hurricanes might see him as a missing piece form their top 6. I believe the canes will surprise people next year

        Other than the oft mentioned ones I see these two being interested too

      • The Canes missing piece is a gritty, top 6 forward, that wiil drive the net, provide 20 goals and occasionally drop the gloves to protect the young skilled players.

  6. I have seen some recent mock expansion drafts recently and I see them predicting Vegas taking some UFA players. I ask, why? Makes no sense to me they can sign the UFA later. Would be a wastes pick when you can take an RFA or minor player since you need a whole lot of players. Opinions?

    • It’s not much different than trading for a UFAs rights. If the best player they can take isn’t worth much, then talking to the UFA early could be more value, especially since they only lose that other asset if the UFA signs.

      I don’t know how much of that will happen, but if I were McPhee I would at least talk to some UFAs, even if all that really did for me was get a good gauge of how interested some of those UFAs would be in coming on board.

      Would be kind of fitting if Vegas talked to a UFA, got a deal worked out and pocketed the deal until July 1, then selected a player and still signed the UFA later. I am sure there are a few teams that have an extension worked out, but haven’t signed them to avoid having to use a protection slot.

    • Vegas has a “window of opportunity” to sign UFAs before the expansion draft and not after July 1st.

      • They can still sign any UFA not signed after July 1.

        They just have a window to sign them early, but any signings will count as their selection from that team.

    • Some teams have no players of any value worth selecting but may have a UFA that Vegas can sign in the 72 hour window, starting June 18th, well before any other teams can even speak to them. If they can secure this asset in those situations why not.

      I also think McPhee will lay the ground work with other UFA’s he doesn’t sign in that window that he hopes to sign July 1st.

      • why wouldn’t vegas just wait. Talk to the UFA ahead of time. Tell them they will offer more than any other team on july 1st and take a different player from the said team and then steal the other on july 1st. That way they get a player and steal another.

  7. Despite the annual playoff failures of the Capitals they need to stay the course. Ovechkin is as close to untradeable as it gets and not necessarily because of performance at this point. It is as much about the contract. Those that state this like Mark Spector, are dealing with reality. I agree with Lyle that this is a comment taken out of context to create spin. However; how many people can honestly say they saw the Subban/ Weber deal before it happened? This was a deal involving large contracts, so it is more than likely that any deal involving Ovechkin would have to mirror this one. I for one think the most logical comments regarding Ovechkin came from Patrick O’ Sullivan on TSN when he stated that the Capitals may need simply to reevaluate Ovechkin’s role within the organization, including the status of his captaincy. Joe Thornton has maintained a vital role within the Sharks after losing his captaincy and they did make it to the Final. They didn’t win but Washington is pressured just to get there. Once you are there anything can happen; just ask Nashville! And for the record, I was completely shocked when Subban was traded for Weber and could be in for another big shock this summer! Honestly, who knows.

    • Steven, I think your point on, that the team must evaluate Ovie of today and what his role is, I also believe the coach was doing that as he moved him down to the third line. This is not to say, That’s where Ovie belongs, but he was willing to move him around to help him get his game on track. But for anything to change it won’t matter what the coach or GM thinks because Ovie is Ted Leonsis guy. Who already has supported Ovechkin wanting to play in the Olympics. Leonsis has branded the Capitals around Ovechkin so I don’t see anything happening there.

  8. If this was a deep draft year, I would make the argument that it would be worth it for the Canucks to take on Lehtonen or Niemi in order to move up in the draft.

    However, because it’s supposed to be a weak draft class, I would probably stay the course and hope you get a good player at #5.

    I don’t know why but I have a feeling that Miller could go to the Flyers on a one or two year deal. I don’t think he’ll go back to Vancouver personally, but if he wants optimal playing time the Canucks will give it to him.

    • dallas should offer niemi + the 3rd for tanev straight up. might need treaked but its a base for a solid deal for both sides.

      • It would be pretty interesting. Might need evening out (not even sure what exactly), but overall should be enticing.

        This may not be a deep draft, but having two top 5 picks in a draft is a nice way to start a rebuild.

      • How about to Dallas, Tanev and Eriksson to Vancouver Niemi,the 3rd and the rights to Nichushkin.
        This is a win win for both teams. The Cunucks end up with 3 solid prospects (yes I know Nuch is in the KHL) and Dallas gets help up front and in the back end to make a run for the Cup.

      • Not terrible… nicks might have to hold a smite of salary on Eric but not bad

    • Gabriel Vilardi at #3 is pretty hard to give up. Kid looks like the real deal.

      • The difference this year between NHL central Scouting & ISS rankings is quite significant. I see no real benefit to the Cancuks paying to move up 2 spots with Dallas. Pick the best player available at #5 & move on.

    • I don’t think Miller wants to be that far from his wife in LA. If he wants to return to Vancouver & is willing to accept in or around 4 mil ob no more than a 2 year deal it will be signed shortly after the expansion draft.

  9. Kovalchuk for Eberle! Lol they both want a change of scenery and the both get it!

    • As a devils fan do you want that?
      To me Palmeiri is just as good as eberle and plays a solid 200 foot game and isnt Cammalleri playing RW as well?

      Eberle doesn’t fit in my opinion. What NJ needs is some depth in propects for RW

    • So they wind up having Eberle and Hall, who together couldn’t get Edmonton into the playoffs because THEY didn’t have a D either. NJ needs to shore up their back end.

  10. Price to Vancouver for Horvat, Tanev and swap #1 picks, do it!!

    • I think if Montreal traded Price, somebody would find Bergevin lynched.

  11. Some of these trade ideas make me laugh! And “stay the course” for the Caps? What course is that, suicide slope? They will lose Oshie, their best player, stuck with declining Backstrom and Ovie, and with little real prop[sect on the horizon save two Russians who only play when they feel like it! Habs won’t trade Price unless they are ready to start a Leaf-like rebuild, which their fans won’t like. If I were Price, I would want a move, simply because he is not going to win in Montreal. As for the draft, anything is possible simply because there are no big stars to be had even at numbers on , two and three…this will be a lean year and If I had a trade to make, it would be NJ number one to Vancouver for number five and a good player ready now…but what is in that for the Canucks?? Finally: Kovalchuk? Please explain why any team wants one

    • Do you think Oshie will score 33 goals on his new team without a center like Backstrom setting him up? Don’t get me wrong, Oshie is a good player but playing with Backstrom made him better in this past season.

    • Oshie is probably the 1 FA that they retain

    • Backstrom is the true superstar of that team. He’s not in decline

  12. Mark Spector and “common sense” should never, ever be used together.
    He is one of the biggest trolls around.

    • said the troll