NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2017
Latest on Drew Doughty, Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford and Will Butcher in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien points out the Los Angeles Kings could face a daunting decision on all-star defenseman Drew Doughty. His contract expires at the end of 2018-19, when he’ll be 27 and eligible for unrestricted free agency. He’s currently earning $7 million annually and could command much more on his next deal. He also lacks no-trade protection.
While re-signing Doughty appears a no-brainer for the Kings, O’Brien suggests management might have to at least consider the possibility of trading the former Norris Trophy winner. While such a move would be wildly unpopular among Kings fans, O’Brien makes the case that it would provide the Kings with salary-cap relief whilst garnering a return of promising roster talent plus draft picks and/or prospects to restock their farm system.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication new Kings general manager Rob Blake is mulling a Doughty trade. If asked, he’ll likely say it’s far too early to get into concerns over the blueliner’s future in Los Angeles. I doubt Doughty will end up on the trade block this season.
Still, O’Brien’s assessment on Doughty’s future foreshadows what will surely be significant focus on this subject next summer, when the elite blueliner will be only a year away from UFA status. Much will likely depend upon the Kings’ performance this season and whatever moves Blake has in store for his roster and salary cap.
Some Toronto pundits could seize upon Doughty admitting he’s a Leafs fan, though they’ll likely overlook the part where he said he didn’t know if he could cope with the fishbowl existence of living and playing in Toronto. Still, if the money’s right and the Leafs keep improving, anything’s possible.
TSN: Agent Brian Bartlett, who represents unrestricted free agent winger Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford, told Buffalo’s WGR 550 on Wednesday that interest in his clients has increased of late and he expects both could be under new contracts soon.
Earlier this summer, it was reported Vanek was in touch with the Detroit Red Wings, but their salary-cap issues makes it unlikely they’ll bring him back. Stafford’s reportedly been in talks with the Boston Bruins and could get a professional tryout offer from them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several of the notable remaining UFAs, like Vanek and Stafford, could get new one-year contracts by the end of September. They might have to accept PTO offers first in order to earn those deals during training camp and preseason play. Vanek and Stafford still have enough value to be enticing to clubs seeking affordable and experienced depth on the wings.
WGR 550: Brayton Wilson cites reports claiming former Colorado Avalanche defense prospect Will Butcher could reach a decision on his NHL future on Sunday. The Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights are believed among the finalists. The Pittsburgh Penguins are also said to still be in the mix.