NHL Post-Trade Deadline Rumor Mill – February 27, 2018
The 2018 NHL Trade Deadline is history but that doesn’t stop the rumor mill. Check out the latest on the Senators and Sabres plus an update on Patrick Maroon.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SENATORS?
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger yesterday telling Toronto’s TSN 1050 the Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning were among the six teams pursuing Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson leading up to the 3 pm ET trade deadline. While the Senators ultimately retained Karlsson and general manager Pierre Dorion remains optimistic about re-signing the blueliner, Dreger is skeptical a reconciliation can be reached. He also said the Edmonton Oilers weren’t on Karlsson’s list of preferred trade destinations.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, meanwhile, told NHL Network the Golden Knights came the closest to landing Karlsson, “They offered some players, some draft picks – probably about six pieces – and they offered to take Bobby Ryan,” said Friedman, who noted the Senators thought about it but decided not to pull the trigger.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson believes there’s reason for hope that the Senators could re-sign Karlsson, who has a year remaining on his contract. He noted Senators general manager Pierre Dorion claiming he has a good relationship with the blueliner, who he believes wants to be a Senator for life. If that’s the case, and if the Sens don’t move Karlsson before July 1 (the earliest they can open contract talks with their captain), Stevenson feels they should re-sign him.
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes the fact the Senators were willing to entertain offer for Karlsson before the trade deadline doesn’t bode well for their chances of re-signing him. There could be more teams with interest in the two-time Norris Trophy winner this summer, which could mean better trade offers.
Wayne Scanlan believes the Karlsson trade rumors will carry on into the offseason. As long as the current team ownership remains in place, he feels Karlsson is less likely to re-sign.
Bruce Garrioch also reports several Western Conference teams, including the Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks, had interest in Senators winger Zack Smith. The St. Louis Blues had been looking at Mike Hoffman since mid-season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Karlsson trade-rumor mill will continue to churn away over the next several months, going into overdrive approaching the 2018 NHL Draft weekend (June 22-23) in Dallas. Sure, it’s possible he could re-sign with the Senators, but I think that’s unlikely now.
Rumors of friction between the Sens captain and team owner Eugene Melnyk reached a fever pitch over the last two weeks. If true, there’s little incentive for Karlsson to stay. There will be more teams, flush with extra salary-cap dollars, willing to make big offers for Ottawa’s superstar defenseman this summer. I also expect some of the clubs that had interest in Smith and Hoffman will circle back this summer.
OFFSEASON CHANGES IN STORE FOR SABRES?
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Buffalo Sabres received just legitimate one offer – from the San Jose Sharks – for left wing Evander Kane. With the trade deadline approaching, Sabres GM Jason Botterill had little choice but to take it. There was no interest in forward Benoit Pouliot, defenseman Josh Gorges or goaltenders Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson.
WGR 550: Joe DiBiase reports “Josh Gorges, Benoit Pouliot, Victor Antipin, Robin Lehner, and Zemgus Girgensons, among others, had trade talk surrounding them for weeks, but general manager Jason Botterill didn’t end up trading any of them.” Gorges and Pouliot are unrestricted free agents this summer and probably won’t be back. Lehner is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’ll likely seek a significant pay increase over his current $4-million cap hit. DiBiase believes the Sabres will either re-sign him or attempt to shop his rights to a team in need of goaltending help.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: More changes are coming for the Sabres. After this horrible season, Botterill will attempt to overhaul the roster this summer. Gorges and Pouliot definitely won’t be back. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to trade Girgensons.
Lehner’s situation could be tricky. He’s their best goaltender but he’ll definitely seek a big pay raise. Rather than get into an arbitration fight, they could peddle him before July. That could depend, however, on how much confidence they have in Linus Ullmark to step up as their starter. They could trade Lehner and attempt to bring in an experienced backup to mentor Ullmark.
COULD MAROON RETURN TO THE OILERS?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports winger Patrick Maroon isn’t ruling out returning to the Oilers as a free agent in July. The Oilers dealt him to the New Jersey Devils prior to Monday’s trade deadline. “Yeah, I’ll be circling back July 1 to see if I can be an Edmonton Oiler again … Peter (Chiarelli) knows I love it there, Todd (McLellan) knows I like it, all the players know it,” said Maroon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Maroon’s sincerity about returning to the Oilers. However, there are two significant obstacles in the way.
One is the Oilers’ limited cap space for next season. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $61.5 million tied up in 14 players for 2018-19. Their most notable free agent to re-sign is restricted free agent defenseman Darnell Nurse. Even if the cap increases to $80 million, the raise for Nurse and efforts to add a top-four defenseman and a top-six winger won’t leave them with much room to re-sign Maroon, who could seek double his current $2-million annual cap hit.
The other is the Oilers’ need for more swift-skating wingers. That means Maroon probably doesn’t fit into their plans.