NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2017

by | Nov 23, 2017 | Rumors | 19 comments

Latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tuukka Rask plus updates on the Canadiens, Oilers & Blue Jackets in your NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”. 

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka is nowhere close to trading defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Chayka’s always said his intention is to re-sign Ekman-Larsson, who’s eligible in 2019 for unrestricted free agency. Unless the blueliner decides he wants out, Friedman believes Chayka still wants to retain him. 

Depending on what happens this season, Friedman speculates Coyotes rearguard Niklas Hjalmarsson could be a trade chip. He think a contender would love to land Hjalmarsson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson has also said all the right things about wanting to stay in Arizona. Unless he changes his mind or if he proves too expensive to re-sign, he could stay put. If things don’t work out, however, the earliest I see him hitting the trade block is next summer, when teams have more cap room and willingness to make trades.

Hjalmarsson, on the other hand, seems more likely to be moved by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Like Ekman-Larsson, he’s eligible for UFA status in 2019. Though he has a full no-movement clause, that’s to prevent him getting demoted to the minors. He carries a 10-team no-trade list. However, he’s good friends with Ekman-Larsson and that could ensure he stays in Arizona for the rest of the season.

Despite speculation the Montreal Canadiens could make big changes, Friedman believes it might take time. He feels they go for the playoffs this season until they know they can’t make it. He thinks the Pittsburgh Penguins might keep an eye on Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty if he becomes available. Friedman also sees a situation where Canadiens goalie Carey Price gets traded. ” If someone walked up to you this second and claimed Price wanted out, could you blame him? I would protect my family at any cost.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman seems to be alluding to recent speculation by so-called Canadiens “insiders” suggesting Price’s wife Angela was unhappy in Montreal and wanted a divorce, prompting her to take to social media dismissing those rumors. It’s one thing to speculate about a player’s trade status, but engaging in baseless conjecture about his personal life crosses the line.

If the Canadiens making some sweeping changes, that could happen if they’re out of playoff contention by February. As for possible interest in Pacioretty by the Penguins, their biggest need remains depth at center, but they could use some scoring punch on left wing. 

MORE OILERS AND CANADIENS SPECULATION

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger’s appearance Tuesday on Toronto’s TSN 1050 and Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing trade possibilities. He notes the Edmonton Oilers need a defenseman and there’s plenty of speculation concerning Columbus Blue Jackets rearguard Ryan Murray. With the Jackets in the market for a center, Dreger wondered if a swap of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Murray was possible. He doesn’t think the Oilers are keen to move Nugent-Hopkins and the asking price for Murray could be too high right now. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers aren’t willing to move Nugent-Hopkins, I don’t see a trade going down with Columbus. Unlike Oilers general manage Peter Chiarelli, Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t under pressure to make a big move right now. I think he’ll wait until the trade deadline if necessary to find a suitable center for the right price. 

Dreger also said he was asked by a team last weekend if the Montreal Canadiens might part with pesky winger Brendan Gallagher. Unless the Habs could get a big defenseman that can provide immediate improvement, he doesn’t see them moving Gallagher. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallagher’s been the Habs best forward of late. They’re not moving him. 

SHOULD THE BRUINS SEEK A REPLACEMENT FOR RASK?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty notes the decline over the past three seasons in the play of Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. He feels the Bruins cannot contend for the Stanley Cup with Rask as their starter. “Rask is being paid as a $7 million-a-year franchise goalie, but he’s not playing like one. And there’s four years beyond this left on the contract,” writes Haggerty.

Of late, Rask is riding the pine behind backup Anton Khudobin. Haggerty believes they’ll have to play Rask “and pump up his value if they any hopes of trading him in the future.” He believes the Bruins must “draft, sign or trade for Rask’s heir apparent” and pave the way for that goalie to be in Boston in two year’s time when they should be ready for a Stanley Cup push. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whether the Bruins are ready to push for the Cup in two years’ time remains to be seen. It could also be a little hasty to give up on Rask. Granted, his performance hasn’t been good this season, but he won 37 games last season (eight of those were shutouts), with a solid 2.23 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. He also exceeded 30 wins in each of the last four seasons. He could return to form as this season progresses.

If the Bruins were to put Rask on the trade block at some point, his contract could prove difficult to move. He also carries a modified no-trade clause over the final years of that deal.

 








19 Comments

  1. What about Rask in Carolina ?
    5 points and a healthy scratch of late.

  2. After this season Rask has 3yrs left not 4 on his contract and he isn’t going anywhere during the season. Boston absolutely has to ride the hot hand of Khudobin who started 3 straight and won them all, also lead the league with a .938 save% 9 games played. Khudobin isn’t the future and has never been a #1. He did play 36 games for Carolina in 2012-2013 with a .926 sv% so he is capable of putting up a solid season and he will start on Friday against Pittsburgh for his 4th straight start he is also undefeated in regulation 6-0-0-2
    Rask is Boston number 1 and as long as they are hanging around the playoff picture Tuukka isn’t going anywhere also his contract isn’t moveable, is it? for fun Rask for Talbot

    • Agreed Caper, for the reasons you state. Rask struggled after December last season as well so this has been a significant stretch of below average goaltending for him. Goaltending is voodoo. Quality tenders go through terrible stretches that can last and they can turn it around and become allstars.
      Khudobin has been outstanding and has basically stolen 2 of the last 3 games and may end up saving the B’s season until they can get healthy if he can stay hot for a couple more weeks. After being brutal last year.
      Voodoo.

    • Good one, I thought about that too. Chiarelli gives over priced contracts out like it isn’t his money! He signed Rask to that deal, it would be nice for him to take it back. Rask has always been maybe a 4 mil goalie, nothing more imop. Goalies can be a 10 mil stopper one year, and a 4 mil the next nowadays. Really they should have kept Martin Jones and traded Rask

      • They couldn’t have, Rask at that time had a full no-movement that he wouldn’t wave.

  3. Ekman-Larson is a hockey player; the vast majority of them always say the “right” boring thing. Even when they do want out they respectfully ask for a trade. You will rarely get the inner workings of what is really at play when you speak to a hockey player. They are well trained. If you want to find out, “you just have to dig a little deeper!”

    • Very true- its a terrible environment there and really the only thing that can keep a player in a crappy market with a crappy team is big dollars. I don’t see them offering big dollars-and even so ..OEL has to know if they offer him a big deal they will just have to skimp everywhere else..

      • yes… why get paid big bucks to play in a city where the weather is beautiful, the pressure isnt immense… and surrounded by young developing talent. where you dont have to uproot yourself or your family. that would be crazy.

      • @ chrisms – probably because he cares about winning? Becoming (already?) one of the best D’s in the league, he’s a solid player but barely gets a mention in Arizona.

        Love that the whole Bettman southern experiment has given the league Matthews but let’s be reasonable and move Arizona to a place where hockey is a little more desirable than high school football.

      • more to lofe than winning… especially when making millions of dollars to not have to succeed. the bettman experiment will continue to pump out these players. it just takes time.

  4. Agreed 100% Noel, and I am a Leafs fan who benefited from Arizona’s great talent. However, how many other cities have benefited from Canada’s talents when it comes to hockey. Arizona needs to go!

    • arizona needs some on ice success but certainly not go. what the league doesnt need is another canadian team. they already are invested in the league and as you point out contribute players. to grow the game and talent pool more non-traditional markets need explored. the decrease in canandian top talent over the past several years drafts (they still dominate but the percentages are quickly trending down) is a good thing for the league as it shows the increase in top level talent being developed elsewhere.

      lastly its pretty crummy to wish that a fan base, while small, lose their team.

      • The last statement you made is why I don’t want the Coyotes to move. They aren’t my team, but they have been around the area for so long. Long enough to create a die-hard fan base. These are the fans that deserve their team. You just can’t uproot a staple like that.

        On a similar note, how about the possible Houston expansion that could go down. That would set each division with 8 teams. No team would have to move to the other conference, no team would have to relocate, and Houston is a natural fit in the Central division. I hope this one happens. Even though I don’t like expansion at all, this one at least makes some sense. And no one has to be sold and moved.

      • I like it. Houston is huge.

  5. How bout them Canucks and BROCK Boeser lastnite huh?

    When this team gets decent Secondary scoring…look out!!!

  6. Where is George o

  7. Chayka also said Mike Smith wasn’t going anywhere, look how that turned out. Do you think Edmonton sending out Nurse or Klefbom + a package would get you a OEL?

    • It would take Yamamoto+Puljujari+Nurse bare minimum to get Oliver Ekman-Larsson out of Arizona and i seriously doubt that Ekman-Larsson would commit long term with Edmonton or if they could even afford what he would command on the open market.

  8. If oilers don’t start winning how long before McDavid wants out