NHL Rumor Mill – February 21, 2018
Latest on Erik Karlsson, plus updates on the Rangers, Red Wings and more in your NHL rumor mill.
KARLSSON SPECULATION PERSISTS
TSN: Darren Dreger believes it’s unlikely the Ottawa Senators will trade defenseman Erik Karlsson at the Feb. 26 trade deadline. He suggests the chances of a trade improve in the offseason or it’s possible Karlsson could re-sign. Still, Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion has talked to teams and it’s assumed there’s a high level of interest in the Senators captain.
Dreger and colleague Bob McKenzie agree it’ll take a significant offer to pry Karlsson away from the Senators. McKenzie said he’s heard “upwards of five, six, seven pieces” and perhaps a team being asked to take on winger Bobby Ryan’s contract, which has four seasons remaining at an annual salary-cap hit of $7.25 million.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman doesn’t think it’s impossible for Karlsson to be moved at the trade deadline. “Maybe no one wants to pay Ottawa’s price, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t discussed. Ottawa’s front office will consider every option, as it should.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli updated his trade bait list by putting Karlsson at No. 5. I don’t discount the possibility that Karlsson could be moved at the trade deadline. However, several factors work against such a move. While Dorion is willing to listen to offers, it doesn’t mean he’s shopping Karlsson or intends to trade him at the deadline. Every report out of Ottawa in recent weeks claims the Sens GM hopes to re-sign his captain. Unless Karlsson’s demanding a trade or Dorion’s getting a real sweetheart offer, I don’t see him changing his mind.
Packaging Karlsson and Ryan is complicated by their combined cap hit (Over $13 million) and respective modified no-trade clauses. Even if the Sens agreed to pick up part of Ryan’s cap hit, his list of preferred trade destinations could be different than Karlsson’s. If there do share a couple of preferred trade destinations, those teams could lack the cap space and assets to make that deal happen.
Finally, while I don’t doubt there are clubs with serious interest in Karlsson, few have the cap room or the assets right now to make such a significant trade. That’s why we rarely see superstars in the prime getting dealt at the trade deadline. Those deals typically occur in the offseason, when clubs are flush with cap dollars and more willing to swing big trades.
Yes, it’s possible Karlsson could be moved at the trade deadline, but I think it’s unlikely.
LATEST ON THE RANGERS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports as many as five or six teams are believed to have pitched some offers to the New York Rangers for winger Rick Nash. “Nashville, Columbus, Dallas, Winnipeg and Boston” are among the clubs believed to have varying degrees of interest. The Jets aren’t believed on Nash’s 10-team trade list but maybe he’ll be open to that move.
Noting the number of teams (five or six) potentially interest in Nash, Bob McKenzie believes there’s double that number looking at Rangers winger Michael Grabner, who carries a very affordable $1.6-million cap hit on an expiring contract. The asking price is said to be a second-round draft pick.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cites a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey noting a source said the Pittsburgh Penguins could be looking at Grabner as a trade option. He also think there’s “Western Conference interest” in Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are a known interested party in McDonagh, as are the Boston Bruins despite yesterday’s acquisition of Nick Holden. Brooks also speculates the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets could be “among unidentified suitors”. He expects the Rangers have set a high asking price for McDonagh.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports New York Islanders GM Garth Snow is believed to have spoken to the Rangers about McDonagh but the conversation probably didn’t go very far.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash is expected to be moved at the trade deadline but interested parties are likely waiting for the asking price (which includes a first-round pick and a top prospect) to come down. Grabner won’t be difficult to move and could be gone by this weekend. He’d be a more affordable option for the cap-strapped Penguins than Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec.
While it’s possible McDonagh could be traded by the deadine, I expect that move takes place in the offseason. Like Karlsson, he’s got a year remaining on his contract and the high price the Rangers will set could make him tough to move right now.
UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports teams like the Nashville Predators have interest in rental scoring wingers. Given the high prices for those rentals, however, they’re also looking at players with term remaining on their contracts that they might get for less than the cost of a rental player. McKenzie mentions Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar, who’s got three years remaining on his contract at $5.3 million annually. While the Wings aren’t obliged to move Tatar, McKenzie said the two clubs have had discussions about the winger.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Red Wings have shown an inclination to move Tatar or Gustav Nyquist but not both. He notes Nashville has shown interest in Tatar, but other clubs could prefer Nyquist because he’s got only a year left on his contract. Nyquist has a no-trade clause but Tatar’s doesn’t kick in until July 1. He also notes the Toronto Maple Leafs have interest in Wings center Luke Glendening, but thinks they’d prefer offering up Josh Leivo rather than a draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if the Wings move Tatar or Nyquist. of the two, the former is the easiest to deal because of his lack of a no-trade clause, but the remaining tenure on his contract could be a sticking point unless the Wings pick up part of his cap hit.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds as though no-trade/no-movement clauses are complicating the Winnipeg Jets’ efforts to a player before the trade deadline. For rental players, Friedman believes the Jets are a worthwhile bet. He also notes the Jets looked at Mike Hoffman but they’re not on his list of preferred trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE:Even if a player doesn’t want to stay in Winnipeg beyond the remainder of this season, I agree with Friedman that the Jets are worth the chance. They are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Then again, why should the Jets acquire a player who doesn’t want to be there? Better to find one who does rather than one who could upset team chemistry.
Friedman suggests Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler as an “under the radar” trade option for the Tampa Bay Lightning, though he acknowledged Edler’s no-trade clause. He also noted Canucks GM Jim Benning would like to add a big player. Maybe a forward with some physicality who has the skill to make plays,” Friedman thinks Benning’s looking at “youngish players” with term remaining on their contracts such as “Nick Bjugstad (Florida), Vladislav Namestnikov (Tampa Bay) or Brock Nelson (Islanders).”
He isn’t sure what the Panthers will do with Bjugstad but said a few teams have scouted him. Namestnikov, who’s arbitration eligible this summer, skates on the Lightning’s top power play unit but shifts to the third line at even strength. Friedman suggests he could be a piece that brings in some trade help.
Word that Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev will miss another four weeks with a fractured leg complicates things at the trade deadline, but Friedman notes there were some teams inquiring into what it would take to acquire him. He believes it would take a lot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edler has so far shown no willingness to waive his no-trade clause. Maybe Benning has interest in Bjugstad, Namestikov or Nelson but he’ll likely have to wait until the offseason to pursue them. The Canucks GM also stated earlier this week he had no intention of trading Tanev.
Friedman thinks the payment for any club interested in Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson could be high, as he doesn’t think their preference is to move him.
The Chicago Blackhawks appear more interested in moving their pending UFAs such as Lance Bouma, Jan Rutta and Tommy Wingels.