NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2017
Latest on Erik Karlsson plus updates on the Oilers, Penguins and Sabres in your NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports hearing the Ottawa Senators asked defenseman Erik Karlsson for a 10-team no-trade list following his “I’m going to get what I’m worth” comments two week ago regarding his next contract. He said there was “a lot of anger within the organization” over his remarks, resulting in “at least one tense meeting between the captain and team officials.” Karlsson subsequently walked back those comments, saying his quotes were taken out of context and expressing his desire to win with Ottawa.
Friedman cites a source saying both sides have since “taken a deep breath”, as the Sens know trading Karlsson out of spite would be “a horrendous and soul-crushing move.” He feels it’s a long shot that Karlsson is traded but acknowledges various factors, including other players to re-sign and a possible change in the club’s direction, could affect his future with the Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators decide to trade Karlsson, and that’s a big “if” at this stage, it won’t happen until next summer, probably in July. Karlsson’s UFA eligibility in 2019 could make clubs leery about pursuing a superstar who could depart after one season. Interested teams will want permission to gauge Karlsson’s attitude toward a contract extension before pursuing a trade for his services. The earliest they can do that is July 1, 2018.
Much will depend upon what moves the Sens make leading up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline. If they’re going to rebuild, Karlsson must decide if he wants to be part of that process. His asking price to stay with the Senators will also be a factor.
The Edmonton Oilers have looked at “some external contributions” to their goal crease. Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson and Detroit’s Petr Mrazek have been mentioned, though the latter is really struggling of late. Friedman also expects the Florida Panthers could wade into the goalie market in search of “someone young-ish who might be their future.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mrazek is not playing well this season. If the Oilers were looking at him, I believe they’ve moved on to consider other goaltending options.
Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has some issues to address. “Do they go after a veteran goalie as insurance? Do they add another centre? What about a scoring winger? Two of the three? All of them?” Friedman wonders if Edmonton might be a trade partner, as they had interest in defenseman Ian Cole before claiming Brandon Davidson off waivers. He suggests Oilers’ pending UFA forwards Mark Letestu and Patrick Maroon could make sense for the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pens could stick with Tristan Jarry backing up Matt Murray, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rutherford’s in the market for a more experienced backup. I think he’s still in the market for a decent third-line center, but if that player can’t be found he could shift his focus toward a rental scoring winger by the deadline.
Friedman believes the Buffalo Sabres could set a high asking price for a player such as “Sam Reinhart, a Rasmus Ristolainen or a Marco Scandella”, but it doesn’t mean they won’t consider offers. Pending UFA winger Evander Kane and Benoit Pouliot are also trade options. Sabres fans hope Kane might fetch a “stud blueliner” but Friedman thinks that’s doubtful for a rental player. He suggests the Calgary Flames could be part of a growing group looking at Kane.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Sabres making any significant moves until perhaps mid-January at the earliest. Given their defensive issues I think they’re more likely to retain Ristolainen and Scandella, using Reinhart perhaps as a trade chip for blueline help.
If the Sabres can’t get a good young defenseman for Kane, I wonder if they’ll consider bundling him with a younger player (Reinhart?) to get a package deal that includes that “stud blueliner”? As for shipping Kane to Calgary, I’m not sure there’s a fit there. The Flames have Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk patrolling their top-two lines at left wing.