NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2017
Updates on Erik Karlsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane and the latest on the Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON SENATORS’ KARLSSON
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen weighs in on the recent speculation over the future of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. Noting the blueliner’s recent comments that he’ll seek fair market value at the end of his current contract in 2019, Allen suggests it’s plausible he could receive a seven-year deal with an annual average value of $12 million.
Should the Sens opt to trade Karlsson if they decide they can’t afford him, Allen speculates the asking price could be “a package that includes a young defenseman, a young center, a first-round pick, a second-round pick and another prospect.” He doubts Karlsson would approve being dealt to a struggling club such as the Arizona Coyotes or Buffalo Sabres, suggesting his preference could be a big-market contender such as the New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs.
Allen’s best guess is Karlsson gets traded next season and then goes on to test the UFA market, where he expects the Detroit Red Wings could make him “a monstrous offer.” He also doesn’t rule out the Rangers, Leafs, Boston Bruins or New Jersey Devils as possible free-agent destinations.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes Karlsson presents a perfect opportunity for the New York Islanders to add a big-time defenseman with a right-handed shot. He notes Isles general manager Garth Snow has stockpiled two first-round and two second-round draft picks, plus he also has some highly regarded prospects, though rookie center Mathew Barzal is a non-starter in trade talks. Cyrgalis suggests recently demoted winger Joshua Ho-Sang could make a prime trade candidate. “So does something close to Halak, Ho-Sang, a first-rounder and a second-rounder get it done?”, wonders Cyrgalis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Swap out Halak with a good young player or two and that package could prove tempting for the Senators. Of course, that depends on whether the Islanders are on Karlsson’s ten-team no-trade list. As I’ve frequently said this week, I don’t see Karlsson getting traded this season. Sens GM Pierre Dorion said they want to try to re-sign their captain this summer and the earliest they can open contract talks is July 1. If talks fall through, perhaps Karlsson’s gets traded by mid-July.
Karlsson be a great fit on the Leafs and the two clubs did do a deal last year involving Dion Phaneuf, but I can’t see Dorion sending his superstar to Toronto. The Rangers could certainly be an option with Rick Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit coming off their books next summer, but they’ve also got over $51 million tied up in just 11 players. Giving up assets to take on a player who could seek $12 million annually would still take a huge bite out of their cap space.
INTEREST IN SABRES’ KANE AND O’REILLY
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites TSN insider Darren Dreger’s Friday appearance on Buffalo’s WGR 550 where he talked about the trade value of Sabres left wing Evander Kane. “The expected rate of return for Evander Kane is significant. I believe that, in a perfect world, Jason Botterill would get a prospect, a first-round pick, and perhaps an additional draft pick on top of that,” said Dreger, adding Kane is “right at the top of the list” of players Sabres GM Jason Botterill is getting calls about from rival clubs. Dreger also said that interest is limited (citing it as a timing issue) and there’s no moves imminent.
WGR 550: Dreger also said a few teams are inquiring into the availability of Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly. However, there’s no indication the Sabres are shopping him or that a deal is close.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill told The Buffalo News’ John Vogl he’s still having discussions with rival clubs as he seeks to improve his club but there’s nothing close to happening right now. While I don’t doubt some teams are kicking tires on O’Reilly, I think Botterill intends to keep him unless the center asks to be dealt. While O’Reilly lacks no-trade protection, his $7.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 is almost as good as a no-trade clause during the season. Kane remains the Sabre most likely to be moved, but I anticipate that happens closer to the trade deadline as Botterill attempts to drive up the asking price.
RED WINGS UPDATE
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites insider Bob McKenzie’s recent appearance on TSN 1050 discussing possible moves by the Detroit Red Wings. Giving how soft the Atlantic Division is this season, he doesn’t think Wings GM Ken Holland is in full sell mode just yet.
If Holland does stage a fire sale, McKenzie expects promising Dylan Larkin won’t be available and thinks the Wings GM would also be reluctant to part with Anthony Mantha or Andreas Athanasiou. He believes the Wings would have to take back some salary if they attempt to move overpaid veterans such as Justin Abdelkader or Darren Helm.
McKenzie speculates there could be some interest in 40-50 point players such as Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist. However, he feels the Wings’ plumb trade asset heading toward the deadline is pending UFA defenseman Mike Green, suggesting he could be a useful rental player to teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nichols also cites insider Elliotte Friedman’s appearance on Calgary Sportsnet 960 suggesting a trade of Wings backup goalie Petr Mrazek to the Edmonton Oilers may have been closer than originally thought. “I heard they were looking at Mrazek last week, and somebody told me after we mentioned it that it was a lot closer than I kind of thought. I think they’d worked out that Detroit was going to keep about half of the money, and they were trying to figure out the draft pick. Nick told me he heard that he played a couple of games and Edmonton saw it and didn’t like him.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 31 points, the Wings are six points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference but only three points out of third (and an automatic playoff berth) in the Atlantic Division. If they stay close to that berth over the next month or so, Holland could hold off on selling if he thinks there’s a good chance they can reach the postseason. If they fall further behind, then the fire sale begins and Green will almost certainly be playing elsewhere by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
Retaining salary is also no guarantee of moving overpaid veterans such as Abdelkader, Mrazek and Helm. Just because you can get them cheaper doesn’t mean there’s a market for their services if they’re still not playing well.