Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 3, 2017
Latest on Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Evander Kane & Wayne Simmonds in your Sunday NHL rumor mill.
DOUGHTY AND KARLSSON
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the Los Angeles Kings’ management had no issue with defenseman Drew Doughty’s comments last week regarding his intent to discuss contract negotiations tactics with Ottawa Senators blueliner Erik Karlsson and his belief they both deserve more than Nashville’s P.K. Subban ($9 million annual salary-cap hit). Doughty and Karlsson are eligible in July 2019 for unrestricted free agency. Kypreos said their priority is to make Doughty an offer by July 1, 2018 in hopes of avoiding a lengthy contract negotiation becoming a distraction like John Tavares’ current negotiations with the New York Islanders.
“They understand that he will put himself in a position to be higher than the highest paid player in L.A., which is Kopitar at $10 million,” Kypreos said. “But for them to remain competitive in years to come, I don’t think that they’re willing to give him, basically, a top-leveled kind of contract. I do believe that it will be slightly higher, but not to the point where he prices himself out completely out of a competitive team for years to come.”
Chris Johnston, meanwhile, noted Karlsson’s response to Doughty’s comments, telling the Ottawa Sun he won’t accept a hometown discount and will seek what he’s worth, regardless of where he ends up. Johnston believes Sens management won’t comment on this as they don’t want to stoke any fires here. He also points out Doughty and Karlsson are represented by Newport Sports, who also represent Karlsson’s teammate Mark Stone, who’s a restricted free agent in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The comments by Doughty and Karlsson understandably raised questions over their futures with their respective teams. Bear in mind they’re under contract through 2018-19, so the Kings and Senators aren’t under pressure to re-sign these guys or trade them this season. I believe they want to get their best blueliners under contract as early as possible, meaning next July. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if both end up inking expensive long-term contract extensions.
Things could get interesting, however, around the time of the 2018 NHL Draft next June. If there’s a sense the Kings feel they can’t afford Doughty or the Sens believe Karlsson is too expensive to retain, one or both could hit trade block by the draft weekend. I’m not saying that’s going to happen but we cannot dismiss the possibility.
SABRES OPEN FOR BUSINESS?
As the Buffalo Sabres continue to flounder at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Elliotte Friedman reports there’s a sense around the league that they’re open for business and could entertain offers for anyone except center Jack Eichel. Regarding defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella or forward Sam Reinhart, Friedman believes any offer for them will have to be great to pry any of them out of Buffalo.
As for left wing Evander Kane, the frequent subject of trade speculation, Friedman said a couple of sources suggested looking at what the Winnipeg Jets got for Andrew Ladd and the Dallas Stars for Martin Hanzal at last year’s trade deadline for the type of return the Sabres could get.
“Winnipeg got Marko Dano, a first-round pick, and a conditional pick for Ladd from Chicago, and Arizona got a first, a second and a fourth from Minnesota for Hanzal and Ryan White,” said Friedman. He adds the Sabres believe Kane is a better player than Ladd and Hanzal so they’ll set a higher price. “I don’t think they’re going to be getting a franchise defenceman for him, but I think that’s the idea of what they want to be, and Kane is having a great year.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Sabres GM Jason Botterill is likely willing to listen to offers for everyone but Eichel, it doesn’t mean he’s staging a fire sale leading up to the trade deadline. The only guy I think is a certain trade candidate is Kane, as he’ll likely seek around $7 million annually on a long-term deal plus he could be weary of playing for non-contenders. Moving Kane, however, will likely take place closer to the trade deadline.
I’ll be surprised if Ristolainen or Scandella get traded, as the Sabres need all the blueline depth they can get. Reinhart, however, has already surfaced a couple of time this season in trade chatter and could start becoming a more frequent subject of speculation in the coming weeks.
SIMMONDS A TRADE CANDIDATE?
As the Philadelphia Flyers sink lower in the standings, Kypreos believes winger Wayne Simmonds could start coming up in the rumor mill near the Feb. 26 trade deadline. He doesn’t believe the Flyers want to move Simmonds but feels GM Ron Hextall is going to face making some tough decisions as the season goes on. One league executive considers him the Flyers most valuable asset.
Kypreos feels this could be a prime time to move him to maximize the return on Simmonds. Given the big contracts of Claude Giroux and Jakob Voracek, Kypreos doubts the Flyers have sufficient room to re-sign the winger when he’s eligible for UFA status in 2019.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Hextall moves Simmonds, at least this season anyway. However, it’s something he could consider in the offseason. Simmonds turns 30 next August and his physical style of play will take eventually take its toll on his body as he ages. If Hextall decides he wants a younger roster, maybe he’ll entertain offers for Simmonds by the NHL draft weekend next June.
The Flyers have over $36 million tied up in just eight players for 2019-20 and Simmonds could seek $6 million annually on his next contract. However, if the salary cap climbs to over $80 million by then, they could easily afford to re-sign him if they wish.