NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2018
Updates on the Oilers, Canucks, Leafs, Penguins and Kings in your NHL rumor mill.
OILERS AND CANUCKS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers winger Patrick Maroon knows he’s prime trade bait heading toward the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Maroon would prefer to re-sign with the Oilers but so far there’s nothing on the front-burner in terms of a contract extension.
Matheson notes the Boston Bruins are looking for a top-six winger but preferably one on the right side. Maroon is a left winger. He also wonders if the Anaheim Ducks might want Maroon back. Matheson speculates the asking price could be a younger prospect winger or NHL roster player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Oilers’ playoff hopes all but dashed for this season, Maroon is likely to be moved by the trade deadline. I don’t see the Bruins pursuing him. Indeed, if they’re still chugging along at their current pace, they could stand pat at the deadline. Still, given his big frame and decent scoring skills, he will attract interest from playoff contenders seeking scoring punch.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien has several suggestions to improve the Oilers. Among them could be using their first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft to either select a key prospect who could contribute next season, bundling the pick with a bad contract to clear salary-cap room for another acquisition or perhaps use the pick in a package deal to land a “big fish” such as perhaps Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty or Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson if those teams realize they’re going to lose those players to unrestricted free agency. O’Brien also recommends the Oilers pursue a goaltender such as Detroit’s Petr Mrazek or San Jose’s Aaron Dell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than rebuild, I think the Oilers will attempt to retool for next season. That could mean shopping their first rounder in this year’s draft. If they win the draft lottery, that pick could have considerable value in the trade market leading up to the draft in late-June. Whether packaging that pick lands a significant return remains to be seen, but one shouldn’t rule out the possibility. As for goaltenders, Dell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’d be preferable over Mrazek, but he might prefer joining a club where he might have a chance to become a starter.
VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma reports Daniel and Henrik Sedin haven’t reached a decision yet on whether they’ll return with the Canucks next season. However, they’ve said a lot about their desire to keep playing if they remain production, as well as their love of the team and the city of Vancouver. He speculates they’re trending in the right direction for returning next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the Sedins seek reasonable contracts (say, $5 million each) on one-year deals, I think we’ll see them back with the Canucks next season.
Kuzma also reports winger Tomas Vanek’s value is a double-edged sword for Vancouver. On one hand, he’s played well this season, sitting second on the Canucks in points (35) and a mentor for young teammates such as Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. On the other, his trade value could fetch the Canucks a second-round pick if they shop him at the trade deadline. There’s also no certainty he’d re-sign with the Canucks if the Sedins retire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could also move Vanek at the trade deadline and attempt to bring him back as a UFA next summer. Of course, it’ll depend upon what he’d seek on a new contract. He’s 34 and they could be reluctant to give him more than a two-year deal for more than $3 million per season.
LEAFS, KINGS AND PENGUINS
TSN: NHL insider Bob McKenzie was asked about the New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggesting the Rangers offer up defenseman Ryan McDonagh in hopes of prying away young forward William Nylander from the Toronto Maple Leafs. While McKenzie believes the Rangers are willing to listen to offers for McDonagh, he doesn’t see the Leafs giving up Nylander for a soon-to-be 29-year-old defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also don’t believe the Leafs have any intention of moving Nylander for a veteran d-man such as McDonagh. Now, if a club offered them a good young top-four defenseman, maybe they’d think about it.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Curtis Zupke reports Kings general manager Rob Blake won’t allow his club’s recent struggles to heavily influence his trade deadline strategy. It was thought the Kings could use another top-four defenseman, but of late their offense looks like it needs some help. Center Jeff Carter (leg injury) is a month away from returning to action and it will take him some time to get back to speed. Blake said he’s not frantically working the phones with other GMs. He adds he’s not going to do anything to hurt his team.
POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t listening to offers for one of his young goaltenders such as Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith. Rutherford also admitted the existence of trade talk earlier this season on frequently scratched defenseman Ian Cole, but hasn’t committed to trading him. Mackey also noted Oilers center Mark Letestu could be a good third-line center option for the Penguins.