NHL Rumor Mill – September 26, 2017
Speculation over how the Edmonton Oilers might proceed in contract talks with Patrick Maroon and the latest on the Penguins’ search for a third-line center.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently mused over winger Patrick Maroon’s worth to the Edmonton Oilers. Maroon is eligible next July for unrestricted free agency and enjoyed a career-best performance (27 goals, 42 points) in 2016-17.
The two sides have reportedly open preliminary contract discussions. Among the talking points to consider is how many of Maroon’s 27 goals were due to skating alongside superstar center Connor McDavid, should they wait until later in the season to re-sign him to ensure last season’s stats weren’t a one-off or do they move now to avoid the risk of his value going up if he exceeds those numbers, as well as comparable players and length of the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: What also has to be considered is the effect a new deal for Maroon will have upon the Oilers’ salary cap for 2018-19. They currently have over $60 million invested in 13 players, with Ryan Strome and Darnell Nurse potentially in line for significant raises. The cost of re-signing Maroon could also provide fodder to speculation suggesting center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his $6 million annual cap hit could be dealt next summer as a cost-cutting move.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Greg McKegg may have elevated himself into the front-runner for the role of third-line center with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Head coach Mike Sullivan said McKegg’s been impressive thus far in training camp and preseason play, citing his speed, poise and faceoff skills.
Detroit Red Wings center Riley Sheahan is rumored to be on the Penguins’ radar as a possible trade target. However, Mackey said the hangup with a potential deal appears to hinge on the Red Wings’ contract stalemate with winger Andreas Athanasiou.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Sullivan feels comfortable starting the season with McKegg in the third-line role, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford won’t have to rush into a trade for fill that spot. If necessary, he can revisit the trade market later in the season when there could be more options to choose from.
That could also open things up for the New York Rangers as J.T. Miller is now expected to start the season on the wing instead of center. Rangers GM Jeff Gorton hasn’t ruled out adding a center via trade.