NHL Rumor Mill – February 22, 2018
Latest on Erik Karlsson plus updates on the Red Wings, Sabres and Blue Jackets more in your NHL rumor mill.
SENATORS LISTENING ON KARLSSON
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has been, and still is, engaged in some level of trade dialogue regarding defenseman Erik Karlsson with perhaps more than half-a-dozen teams. If the Senators get an “acceptable” offer, Karlsson could be dealt by Monday’s 3 PM ET trade deadline. To the best of his knowledge, McKenzie said Dorion hasn’t received any formal offers for Karlsson and he’s more likely laying the framework of what a possible deal could look like.
The talk is it could take five, six or seven piece, consisting of good young players, top prospects and first-round picks. However, if a team is also willing to take Senators winger Bobby Ryan in the deal, the price could be discounted. Ryan, 31, has four years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $7.25 million. That provision, however, could severely limit the number of interested teams. Karlsson, meanwhile, is eligible next summer to become an unrestricted free agent.
McKenzie said the Tampa Bay Lightning are likely to lead the Karlsson trade speculation. They’re loaded with picks and prospects, but the Senators could seek promising center Brayden Point, as well as budding young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, as part of the return. Moving Point to acquire Karlsson would fill a hole on the blueline but create another at forward. McKenzie believes the next 24-48 hours will determine if a Karlsson trade goes down, though he feels it’s still a big “if” at this point.
McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun reports a Western Conference GM suggests Dorion could be laying the groundwork for a possible Karlsson trade in the offseason. While playoff contenders could be willing to pay more now to acquire Karlsson for two playoff runs, they could be unwilling to dip too much into their roster core. An offseason deal, on the other hand, would involve more teams with more salary cap and roster flexibility.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s rampant recent speculation about Karlsson. He said Dorion isn’t shopping his captain and franchise player but teams have been calling to inquire into Karlsson’s long-term future in Ottawa. Garrioch cites three league executives expressing doubt Karlsson gets deal by the deadline, though another suggested the Sens could strike while the iron is hot. The Senators won’t know how much it could cost to re-sign Karlsson until July 1, when they can open contract extension talks. If it appears it will be difficult to re-sign him, they’ll have a good idea which teams could be interested in him based on the inquiries they receive now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, a Karlsson deal at the trade deadline is possible but a lot of things must fall into place to make it happen.
First, the interested parties must be on Karlsson’s trade list. If they’re not, and if he’s unwilling to broaden his list, he won’t be going anywhere at the deadline.
If the team is on his list, do they have sufficient cap space to take on his $6.25 million cap hit or the combined $13.5 million if they’re to take on Karlsson and Ryan? As per Cap Friendly, not many teams do right now. Cup contenders, such as Tampa Bay, will have to ship out a big chunk of change to make this fit. Even if the Sens were willing to pick up part of Karlsson’s cap hit (or part of the combined hit for Karlsson and Ryan), that’s still a potentially hefty cap hit to take on at this point in the season.
Third, of course, is the asking price. Five, six or seven pieces involving young players, top prospects and first-round picks is a helluva lot. For the club acquiring Karlsson or Karlsson-Ryan, such a deal could adversely affect their overall roster depth and team chemistry. Even if you get a discount by taking on Ryan as part of the deal, you’ve got to figure the Sens will still want a good young NHL player, a top prospect and a first-round pick.
The Lightning are often listed as being a front-runner for Karlsson. However, Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith doesn’t see Lightning GM Steve Yzerman overpaying at the trade deadline, citing Yzerman’s comments that deadline deals don’t guarantee a Stanley Cup.
Again, it’s possible Karlsson could be dealt at the trade deadline. Such a deal, however, seems more likely to occur this summer, when clubs are flush with cap dollars and more willing to swing trades involving superstars.
LATEST ON THE SENATORS AND RED WINGS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch also reports the Senators are getting “boatloads of interest” in forwards Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defenceman Cody Ceci. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers could have interest in centers Brassard and Pageau. Garrioch suggests Hoffman or Smith could be good fits with the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins or Vegas Golden Knights. Moving Ceci might not make sense if the Sens are contemplating a move of Karlsson. Veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya could be moved.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James lists defenseman Mike Green, forwards Gustav Nyquist, Andreas Athanasiou and Luke Glendening and blueliner Xavier Ouellet as Red Wings who could be on the move by the trade deadline. Green is open-mined to waiving his no-trade clause. Nyquist would also have to waive his no-trade and the Wings might have to pick up part of his $4.75-million cap hit. St. James speculates Athanasiou could be a good trade chip if they get an offer of a high-end defense prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators appear reluctant to move Brassard or Pageau because it could adversely affect their depth at center. They could be less likely to move Hoffman because of the chemistry he’s established with Matt Duchene. Smith or Oduya seem like more likely trade options. I agree with Garrioch that trading Ceci seems less likely if the Sens are considering an eventual move of Karlsson.
Green appears a goner by the deadline. Indeed, I think he could end up with the Lightning at the trade deadline, as he’d be a much more affordable option than blowing their brains out on a Karlsson trade. Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have surfaced in recent trade chatter but the Wings will probably only move one of them. Moving Athanasiou for a top defense prospect seems like a move that happens in the offseason.
UPDATES ON THE BLUE JACKETS AND SABRES
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Steve Gorten interviewed Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on the state of his team and possible plans for the upcoming trade deadline. Kekalainen said he’s going to try not to move a roster core player, such as Boone Jenner, in search of help for his lineup. He feels the biggest remedy for his team is for them to start playing on the level they should. He also doesn’t want to give up his top prospects, young players or his first-round pick in 2018 for playoff rentals.
Kekalainen hopes to get a substantial piece for defenseman Jack Johnson, who requested a trade earlier this season. If the return is comparable to what the Minnesota Wild gave up last season for Martin Hanzal (a first- and a second-round pick), they might have to think about that.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in Oilers center Mark Letestu.
WGR 550: Paul Hamilton reports Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane believes he’ll be moved by the trade deadline. Hamilton also suggests defenseman Josh Gorges and forwards Benoit Pouliot and Jacob Josefson could also become trade candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Jackets in danger of falling out of the playoff race, Kekalainen could be feeling pressure to make a significant move at the trade deadline. It sounds, however, like he’s not going to just ship out Johnson for just a draft pick. Perhaps he’d like to use Johnson as a trade chip to perhaps bring in a forward who can help his club right way. I expect Kekalainen will do something by the deadline, but it remains to be seen if it’s a substantial deal.
I expect Kane will get deal by Monday. Don’t see much interest in Gorges, Pouliot or Josefson but that doesn’t mean one of them couldn’t be dealt.