NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2017
Updates on the Red Wings, Avalanche and Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton recently examined the Detroit Red Wings’ limited salary cap situation, wondering how creative they’ll make to free up additional dollars.
The Wings currently sit over the $75 million cap ceiling by just over $3 million and they still have to re-sign restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou, who’s in line for more than $1 million annually on his next contract. That would put the Wings’ beyond the spending limit even if (as expected) they place sidelined winger Johan Franzen ($3.9 million cap hit) on long-term injured reserve.
The contract buyout period has now passed so the Wings cannot go that route to clear cap room. Clinton suggests going the trade route is the next option, possibly by shopping defenseman Jonathan Ericsson ($4.25 million cap hit). He also suggests blueliner Mike Green ($6 million) and winger Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million) as trade candidates. They could also consider demoting some players to the minors, though that comes with the risk of losing them for nothing to another NHL club via waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Ken Holland could’ve used the buyout option with 48 hours of re-signing Tomas Tatar last month but he passed on that option.Carrying dead cap space for the upcoming season and beyond was likely the reason behind that decision.
I suspect Holland will go the trade route. I don’t see much interest in Ericsson but Green is still enough of a notable player to attract some attention in the trade market, though the Wings will likely have to pick up part of his annual cap hit for next season. Trading Green, however, could weaken an already thin blueline corps. Nyquist is a consistent 40-point winger and could be enticing for clubs in need of scoring depth.
ESPN.COM: Josh Cooper examines why the Colorado Avalanche haven’t done more this summer to improve their roster for next season. The key, of course, is whether GM Joe Sakic can find a trade partner willing to give him a suitable return for center Matt Duchene.
A Western Conference scout tells Cooper he thinks the trade market on Duchene will tank if Sakic doesn’t move him before the start of the season, pointing out there’s a negativity surrounding the center and the Avs. However, Cooper suggests a strong bounce-back performance by Duchene with the Avs in 2017-18 will boost his trade value or perhaps make him worth retaining.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper also notes Duchene’s contract ($6 million annual cap hit through 2018-19) is an issue. If his play doesn’t improve that contract becomes harder to move. The biggest factor remains Sakic’s high asking price. It’s believed he wants an established top-four defenseman, a first-round pick, a top prospect and possibly more. After losing the Ryan O’Reilly trade two years ago, Sakic must get a strong return for Duchene. There are clubs interested in the 26-year-old center, but they’re willing to wait out Sakic in hopes he’ll lower his asking price.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Sarah McLellan examines possible options for the Arizona Coyotes to possibly replace sidelined defenseman Jakob Chychrun if he’s out beyond the start of the upcoming season. They could stand pat, call up a blueliner from the minors, explore free agency or make a trade. Teams with a surplus in defenseman include the Vegas Golden Knights, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have over $19 million in salary-cap space. While they’re not spending up to the cap ceiling, they have sufficient room to take on a defenseman if needed. If they go the trade route, the Knights and Wings could be the best bet. They already have 10 defensemen with one-way NHL contracts, which will soon become 11 once Nate Schmidt receives a new contract. As noted above, the Wings need to shed cap space and could perhaps peddle Jonathan Ericsson or Mike Green.