NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2017
Latest on the Golden Knights, Devils and Sharks in your NHL rumor mill.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS TRADE DEADLINE PLANS
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the ongoing success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights could alter general manager George McPhee’s trade-deadline plans. The season began with McPhee carrying a roster with a number of pending unrestricted free agents and pondering how many he could flip at the deadline to bolster his already impressive stockpile of draft picks and prospects. But with the Golden Knights playing much better than anticipated, perhaps they could consider becoming buyers. McPhee said it was premature to ask that question, saying only that it’ll depend upon the landscape when they get there.
ESPN.COM: Matthew Collier suggests McPhee could face the choice between scuttling his club’s playoff chances by trading some of his top UFA players (including James Neal, David Perron and Jonathan Marchessault) to continue building for the future or sacrificing some of that future for a shot at a possible playoff run.
If it’s the latter, Collier suggests it isn’t worth the trade-off to retain their UFAs at the risk of losing them for nothing this summer only to be eliminated in the opening round. He advocates an all-in approach. That mean’s chasing possible rental players such as Buffalo’s Evander Kane or perhaps Vancouver’s Sedin Twins. They also have the cap room to take on a player signed beyond this season, such as Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly or Florida’s Keith Yandle, or even take a huge run at potential 2019 UFAs such as Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson or Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
If that’s not possible, Collier advocates McPhee stay the course and continue building for the future by moving his pending UFAs. Neal or Marchessault could fetch Vegas a first-round draft pick from a contending club. “If the Golden Knights added two more first-round picks to the bundle of draft assets they already hold, McPhee’s team would be more likely to land the superstar-level talent required to compete for the Cup.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: During a recent interview with Sportsnet, McPhee already indicated he won’t do anything to derail his club by the trade deadline. “We do have a master plan, but if this team is in the hunt way down the road, way down the road, in March, then we’ll stay in the hunt. I wouldn’t derail it. It’s not fair to this team or this community,” said McPhee.
We must also factor in the possibility that Neal, Marchessault and Perron could prefer re-signing with the Golden Knights. If their asking prices are reasonable, McPhee could re-sign them to maintain a level of veteran skill and leadership that allows their younger players more time to blossom.
Again, the picture will become clearly by February. If they’re chugging along just fine by then, I don’t see McPhee being a major player at the trade deadline, though he could make a smaller move or two if it’ll help keep his team in the hunt.
COULD DEVILS MAKE ANOTHER DEAL?
NJ.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Chris Ryan was asked if the New Jersey Devils could make a deal at the trade deadline if they maintain their current level of play. While Ryan doubts Devils GM Ray Shero will swing another trade similar to his shipping forward Adam Henrique to Anaheim for defenseman Sami Vatanen, he thinks Shero could make a small move or two to solidify a position.
Ryan doesn’t think they’re in the market for a second-line center/winger but admits a lot can change between now and the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Asked if it was realistic to envision the Devils pursuing Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, he replied it’s hard to envision a scenario where they get seriously involved in bidding for him. He does see them adding defensive depth if necessary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Devils maintain their hold on a playoff berth by the deadline, Shero could consider adding a depth player to address any potential roster weakness. I don’t see him chasing any of the bigger-name rentals.
SHOULD SHARKS TRADE A GOALTENDER?
THE MERCURY NEWS (stick tap to GJ Berg): Paul Gackle suggests San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson can make a significant trade without parting with a core player by shopping backup goaltender Aaron Dell. An unrestricted free agent next summer, Dell could be a highly sought-after commodity on the open market. With a 1.94 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, teams lacking goaltending depth are eyeing Dell. While trading Dell for an asset could prove risky if starter Martin Jones becomes sidelined, Gackle feels it’s worth the risk if the Sharks hope to add to their roster to become a true contender this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks need an additional top-six winger to bolster their scoring. If Dell can fetch that type of return, it could be worth the gamble, especially if Wilson can also pry away a decent backup in a separate deal from a non-contender. Otherwise, it’s best to retain him as insurance behind Jones for the remainder of the season.