NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2017

by | Dec 22, 2017 | Rumors | 24 comments

Latest on the Golden Knights, Devils and Sharks in your NHL rumor mill.


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. 


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. 


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. 



  1. We could very well see Vegas win a couple rounds in the playoffs this year. They work hard every night. At the same time, it could catch up to them come playoff time as well. Teams are finding it hard to stay focused in sin city. Interesting story I must admit. Thanks for my daily buzz Lyle! Appreciate your site very much.

  2. Back up goalies do not return top 6 forwards. Dell will move in the off season like Talbot, Darling ,and others have in the past, at the draft.
    I bet the Devils and Knights are even surprising themselves and should take advantage. Next year they could and probably will come crashing back to earth.

    • It might in Dell’s case, as he consistently has played well, and some teams have good forward depth (Philly) but are doing poorly partially because of inadequate goal tending. Maybe Wilson could make a run at Wayne Simmonds as others have suggested before and throw in Demelo as a sweetener. Do not underestimate Dell’s ability. He always seems to do better than people think he will!

  3. Going to be interesting to see what GM does in Vegas as we approach the trade deadline.

  4. I’m glad you pointed out the third option for vegas Lyle… most people seem to forget that Mcphee could sign one or more of these guys and playing for a successful team in a cool city, a team with a ton of tradable assets in extra picks and projecting upwards, could be an easy sell.

    • As suggested previously I would really like to see Vegas get Marchesseault signed to keep that line intact for several more years.

      & I’m with MG I’m not moving any of the UFA’s I deem valuable to a potential playoff run regardless of the risk of losing them for nothing. Same scenario for any team for me.

      Now if you could move a UFA serving both purposes maybe. Let’s use Neal or Perron as an example. You move him for a younger lesser player but an NHL player who isn’t a UFA, like Milano in Clb, Roy in Anh, taking back a pick as well, if a team would do such a deal. I think Tuch is ready to potentially take on more responsibility, could he move into Neal’s spot or could Leipsic move up to assume Perron’s spot? Obviously neither are going to match Neal’s or Perron’s production but the down grade to get future assets might serve both purposes.

  5. Vegas trading off their players simply because they are an expansion team would be as nonsensical as the Blues or Jets doing the same. They are a playoff team.

    “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.” – Collier


    What SUPERSTAR level talent is going to acquired for a few late first round picks?

    The Sabres or Coyotes aren’t going to be trading for James Neal. They will be late first round picks. If that, maybe only seconds if GM’s like this draft.

    The Knights’ best bet is to try to resign all 3 of those players.

    They have a team that works and wins now, why would they tear it down to build it up with maybes?

    • Because it’s not sustainable. They don’t have the talent to maintain what they are doing. Every player on that team is playing with a chip on his shoulder because his last team didn’t protect him in the draft. And that wears off. They have some very good players but they have no game changers. McPhee needs to talk to his UFAs and get assurances that they will re-sign. If any or all of them walk for nothing and he misses out on getting good futures just to make the playoffs this year that would set them back years in the long run. If they have to sign FAs in the offseason they are not going to be anything above replacement level. The Knights are not winning the cup this year so why damage their future just to make the playoffs one time.

      • For numerous reasons not the least of which is if you throw this opportunity away you send a terrible message to every player in the organization, that message being were not in it to win, each playoff gate is 2.5+ mil in revenue & get to the playoffs anything can happen with a little luck & solid goaltending.

        I didn’t expect Vegas to he here but now that they are it would be wrong for the organization; players, coaches, scouts, etc., & fans to pull the plug. Vegas has a ton of prospects, picks & a solid roster now, they play with heart, they work hard, I assume wins will get harder to come by but as much as it pains me to be this wrong this is a very good team.

      • Why is their success any less sustainable than the Devils or Blues or any number of second tier contenders? Should they sell?

        Vegas is a young team with good players at key positions. I don’t see any guys playing above their heads because of chips on their shoulders (outside of Legace and maybe Subban), I see good young players.

      • No Striker, don’t agree with that statement. I agree Vegas got some tough decisions to make. With 8 ufa’s (counting Garrison buried) MP cannot allow all of his rfa’s hit the market with no return, that will pretty well guarantee they’ll be in a lottery position next year. I think they’ll need to decide who they want to resign and who is willing to resign then get it done; otherwise you cannot allow Neal, Perron and Marchessault to hit the market with no return.

      • Other than those 3 who cares about the other 5. Unless Vegas gets back something that helps now I don’t think those 3 or Sbisa or Engelland are going anywhere.

        Again that will depend upon where they are as we approach the end of February.

        We rarely agree so not surprising we disagree now, Nor is losing 3 of their top 6 forwards ia death nail. Suzicki & Glass are very close & they have cash to play in the UFA market if so inclined.

        The foundation we see in place today is solid. Their top 4 C’s are set that’s huge. Are they going from where they are now 3rd in the NHL, 2nd in the West with 3 games in hand on L.A. to last next season if all walk for nothing? Not a chance.

      • I explained why it’s not sustainable. The Devils have Hall, Hischier, and Zacha they are way ahead of Vegas right now. And as always Striker you miss the point entirely. That’s very short sited thinking. He goal for any team is to build a roster that will contend for many years. Throwing away the chance to get a number of first round picks in a strong draft just to make the playoffs one time is horrible long term planning. Who cares what message it sends? The message should be that we are building for the future. Going all in to make the playoffs with a flawed roster is what has made the Mape Leafs so futile for so any years. It wasn’t until they tore it all apart and built through the draft that things started to turn around. If those guys re-sign then fine but there is a good chance they dont. There are so many good dmen in this draft, getting 2-3 and a couple of forwards would be much better for the franchise long term.

      • Vegas got to pick from every team and if they did not want to never had to take a single bottom line player. The team is better than anyone is given them credit for. They are made up of 2nd line and 3rd players on all 4 lines. With some added top line players

      • Let’s not forget that they’re an expansion team and didn’t give up anything to acquire them. I agree with Striker that you play to win. If players walk after season, so be it. They should be buyers at deadline and are in a good position to add younger guys like Kane or RNH. Like Striker said, it’s all about the message you’re sending. You want to keep guys and attract others in FA.

  6. Would be interesting to see all Vegas players playoff stats from there previous Teams.

    • Go to Capfriendly click on Vegas click on each players name & presto, takes but a few minutes & you will have your answer.

  7. Devils def make a small move or two… right now the healthy scratches include ben lovejoy, dalton prout, jimmy hayes, mirco mueller drew stafford…

    But maybe they send a package for karlsson.. maybe severson mcleod and some picks

  8. With one of the worst save percentages in the league I could see the Isles being interested in Dell. Of course I, like silver seven, don’t see a back up pending FA goalie being worth a top six forward. I could see a deal where the Isles send Halak and a second for Dell though. Perhaps the Isles keep some of Halak’s contract for his final season.

    • & this helps SJ how?

      • They get a 2nd rounder for Dell along with a back up goalie to replace him. Halak hasn’t played as well as Dell this year but could still serve as their back up.

    • Why?

  9. Vegas is getting great coaching and management made good decisions to help get them where they are. The players may be playing over there head a bit,but more importantly they are playing as a team and I can’t see them or any GM throwing away a playoff appearance for the future’s that may not turn out? The future is now and hard not to watch a well coached team that has great goaltending gelling so nicely!

    • I fully agree, go for it I say. It would make for an amazing story.