NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2018

by | Mar 15, 2018 | Rumors | 28 comments

Updates on the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.

Could the Ottawa Senators have interest in Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? (Photo via NHL Images)


SPORTSNET: Mark Spector suggests Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could be auditioning for both his club and the Ottawa Senators. He notes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion took in his second straight Oilers game, while Nugent-Hopkins played his third straight game on Connor McDavid’s wing.

Spector speculates if Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Todd McLellan decide Nugent-Hopkins isn’t suited for McDavid’s line, they could decide Senators winger Mike Hoffman could be. If so, he feels Nugent-Hopkins’ $6-million annual salary has to be part of the deal, as the Sens won’t take Milan Lucic’s contract off the Oilers’ hands. That move could be tough for the Oilers to swallow, “unless you get a little something more in the deal and Hoffman comes in and scores 35.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: First, for those of you who still confuse me with “cousin Mark”, we’re not the same person nor are we related.

Anyway, Hoffman was linked at times to the Oilers prior to the recent trade deadline, and as Mark observes, Chiarelli has mused over the problem of having over $27 million invested in three centers (RHN, McDavid and Draisaitl). Nugent-Hopkins also surfaced in trade chatter over the past two years, but his performance this season was among the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable 2017-18 campaign for the Oilers. That could make them reluctant to move him unless they get a great return. 

Hoffman has a slightly more affordable contract (nearly $5.2 million annually through 2019-20) than the Oilers’ center ($6 million per season through 2020-21), but the latter is nearly four years younger than the 28-year-old Senators winger. That could make him a little more attractive for the Senators.

For now, of course, this is all merely conjecture. Dorion could be interested in Nugent-Hopkins, especially if he can be effectively employed as a center or a winger. Then again, the Senators play the Oilers next Thursday, which could explain Dorion’s scouting trip. Perhaps he’s looking at a different Oiler. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported there’s a belief Edmonton was showcasing defenseman Oscar Klefbom despite a nagging shoulder injury that will soon require season-ending surgery.


FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites TSN insider Bob McKenzie’s appearance yesterday on the NHL Network discussing possible off-season moves by the New York Rangers. He thinks they’ll sit down with head coach Alain Vigneault to discuss his feelings about being part of a rebuild. He still has two years remaining on his contract. They’ll also have to decide if he’s the right guy or if they need a new voice behind the bench. McKenzie also notes long-time Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is “all-in” with the rebuild and doesn’t want to go anywhere. 

Even though Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is rebuilding, McKenzie doesn’t rule out the possibility that he could sign one or two unrestricted free agents, such as former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk or former Rangers Rick Nash and Michael Grabner, if they’re willing to accept short-term deals. He also suggests the Rangers could look at pursuing Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Vigneault wants to stay I don’t think the Rangers will replace him. One bad season isn’t justification to replace him. Forget about Lundqvist being moved. He wants to stay and Cap Friendly indicates he has a full no-movement clause.

Maybe Gorten will pursue a UFA or two, though I think it best to look beyond aging stars such as Kovalchuk and Nash toward younger options. If Washington’s John Carlson hits the open market, the Rangers should seriously consider signing him.

As for Karlsson, why blow your brains out in a huge trade that could significantly weaken your roster and prospect depth when you could have a shot at signing him next year as a UFA? Sure, the latter option is expensive contract-wise, but at least you haven’t given up other assets to get him. 



  1. One thing the NHL has done right, even if entered into with much pain: the hard cap.
    There isn’t perfect parity on the ice, because equal opportunity rosters showcase good GM’s and coaches, but every fan in every market knows their team can be competitive, and win a cup. Yes there is some luck, as the year you draft in the top 2 or 3 may or may not have generational talent available. But of a fan in Tampa, looking at the hopelessness of the Rays makes one appreciate how the Lightning, facing not only small market issues but, originally, non-traditional market issues, have excelled. It doesn’t happen without a realistic cap, created and supported. In retrospect, the pain of the lockout and the steadiness of league policy have been worth it. So reading about 6MM contracts and 27MM in three forwards, while “problems” of the day, represents success for the league. Would the top 20 players make more in an open market? Look at basketball (if you can). And yes, you can sign a terrific forward for the price of a utility infielder. But the players don’t live in poverty, and the sport is healthy overall.
    We should be thankful.

    • As a resident of Tampa and fan of the lightning, I agree with the above post. I don’t understand why, everywhere Gary Bettman goes, he’s booed. If it weren’t for his stance (and the owners) to insist on a hard cap back in 2004, Tampa may not even have a team today and instead of the league expanding, it may have contracted. Hockey’s never been more popular. The hard cap puts the emphasis on money management, drafting and player development as opposed to just “buying” a winner.

      • I think it’s a mixed bag of “purists” and people that don’t do their research, with regards to the booing fan base. Purists feel he’s ruining the game with rule changes etc, and the other side are people that look at lockouts or shortened seasons, look at the guy at the top of the league and blame him. In reality, there are two parties at the table and everyone is trying to get what they perceive to be a fair deal. Fans either forget, or choose not to listen, to the notion that sometimes the league’s demands are better. Maybe not all, but some.

      • It stems back to the loss of winnipeg and Quebec city.

        After all he is the only ever serving conmish of the Nhl.

        What i never understood is why he gets booed when he is taking direction from the owners. If the 31 owners say expand in Canada and ditch the southern state teams that would be exactly what He’d do.

      • Hi Denis, I can tell you why he is booed everywhere— no one likes him. He is arrogant, will only do things his way— will sit on his decisions despite the economic time and the detrement it has to the league— it was Gary Bettman who lobied and got ownership on board for Phoenix—- after years and years of failure and with cost sharing — Pho/Arz still a drag on League revenues— he refused to allow (yes he did— he lobbied and bullied and lobbied and bullied the owners until they capitulated) a team to stay in the desert— moving the team to ANY Canadian city would have had big positive revenues and of course the negative draw (from the Desert) is removed— huge revenue swing… Bettman wouldn’t do this as it would have meant he was wrong all along — so it was better to never admit error with still costing the league a fortune- arrogant and pig-headed…. this is just one example of many as to why he is viewed poorly and widely booed. This disfavour is obviously everywhere as he is booed EVERYWHERE he goes —- even when there is a great event — awarding of the SC— just saying

    • 100%. Well said.

      • Very, very well said!

    • Richard, on the topic of smart GM’s, does Las Vegas come to mind? How many GM’s screwed up in the expansion draft? And, Lyle, there’s an article in this.

    • Well Bettman has rigged or influenced who wins/loses in the NHL since taking over. He made sure MOntreal got the last Cup Canada will ever see… having Islanders get shafted on every call among others… Not to mention help the Rangers win their cup thinking it would help in the NY market… Kings won 2 cups he didn’t want them to so he suspended Voynov for life to punish them for that besides the Mike Richards ruling changing the salary cap to shaft Kings on those contracts etc. He has done a lot of negatives for the NHL on/off the ice 100%. Suspending Avery for some sloppy second comments or other BS… Yet Duncan Keith nearly kills Carter using a deadly weapon without any real punishment… Even Dale Hunter got off easier than Sean Avery.

      Those southern state teams have as many or more cups as Canada since Bettman took over ;). Not sure if they can say they lost more Cups than Canada teams to be fair ;). He did botch Winnipeg not letting them have back their history from the NHL owned Coyotes among other scummy things. I do like the penalty for flipping puck over glass to be fair. Yet I hate the all star game along w/ entire system for picking the teams now. They used to have the young stars game other things. I don’t like the shoot out its ruined hockey at every level too. Quebec should not get a team ever again… Especially if see the uniforms they wanted to use. Least Winnipeg don’t have to deal w/ a team who has like 24 Cups. Its like the Mets/Yankees who nobody out of NY cared when they played World Series. At least Islanders, Devils, Rangers all have a fair amt of cup titles/loses. HE did rig the lottery so Crosby would end up on Penguins to help franchise… You would think those in Canada would cheer them for handing Oilers how many 1st overall picks ;)? Yeah I really believe a team who can’t win when it matters since their loss to Carolina in Cup wins all those lottery picks ;). Least NFL has ran itself so badly that it makes Bettman look better :). Vegas went well, getting lots of money for greedy owners. Lets hope Seattle is even better if they use name Kraken. Problem is how many lockouts or lost seasons have they had under Bettman. Another can come in a few years right after Seattle is already in league so players don’t get a cut of their 650M etc ;). The league isn’t on TV in the USA on a decent network or contract… He has the Outdoors NEtwork or whatever NBC was back then after losing ESPN II w/ the annoying blue line. NHL has failed to do well on TV or way they are covered in USA by NBC is bad. Ads on the boards when watching game that appear on the glass blocking fans is another issue. Contracts getting out of control w/ insane cap hits like 10-13M when entire cap is like 70-80M depending on the year/raise etc. NHL has a lot of bogus rigged BS having vague calls for off sides, goalie interference, not being consistent… The game or league was better before Bettman for any who remember that far back :). For Canada he has been bad just ask the Flames who were shafted especially Gelinas vs. Tampa. NHL has slipped below college sports, almost every pro sport overall. He has not done enough to promote the game even in age of HDTV. Moving Islanders to Brooklyn was really another negative after he cost them a Cup clash vs. Kings.. Destroyed that franchise, though Milbury helped too :). Penguins fans are the only people who should be cheering Bettman for handing them all those cups w/ Crosby :).

      • And you’re an idiot lol

      • You actually believe he could have influenced all this? This is pretty scary because a conspiracy like this would require hundreds of people following his direction. As much as I do not like him he has moved the NHL ahead.

  2. A Hopkins for Hoffmab trade makes so e Sens but the Sens would be week on the wings and have 2 young centres coming.

    I struggle with the rational of trading hoffman in a retool. Trade him if your going to tear it completely up.

  3. It seems to me that Kovalchuck is no dummy and aware that, at his age, his time in the NHL will be restricted. Therefore, it would make more sense for him to sign with a Cup contender team, or one that projects to be in 3 – 5 years, instead of a team that just gutted it’s roster and is rebuilding.

    • The lure of Brighton beach, you can’t pry the Russians out of there. It’s as close to living in Russia they’re going to get in the states.

      I’m not sure NYI’s are in a better position than NYR’s. And I don’t think he wants back in NJ.

      All that said, I’d rather pass on him unless it’s just too good to pass up and no more than 2 years max.

      • I’d take a pass on Kovalchuk, and if I could get Nash or Grabner back I would jump on it! That is, if the price is right! Nash is a better 2-way and team player than Kovalchuk IMHO! It would also be good to lose Staal’s contract if at all possible! That might mean paying a good amount of his contract to make it more palatable to a potential trading partner. The Rangers also have a lot of picks in a pretty deep draft which I’m sure will have an effect on how they re-stock their shelves. These should be interesting times… 🙂

      • Depends what salary/line Ilya plans to play on along w/ position. Rangers he might fit in better if wants to be on the top 2 lines or sell loads of jerseys. Islanders he would be ideal if was ready to play on 3rd line along w/ PP. Since at his age it might be tough to crack if they still have Tavares, Barzal, Eberle, Ladd, Lee, BAiley, among a few others. Yet on 3rd line Islanders have had issues scoring enough. He might like idea of Islanders having the new arena coming while tolerating Brooklyn more than others.

        I think Islanders are a bit closer to Rangers since Gibson looks good in net. They got a fair amt of young players coming into their own. Many of their issues were from defense having injuries which lacks a real #1 Norris type player as it is. Rangers shipped out more talent who was key like Nash, Grabner, their captain, even JT got his first hat trick recently on TAmpa. Yet if like Henrik they might be able to compete by adding Ilya for least a playoff run. Look at how Flyers bounced back, Devils, Avalanche, teams like that who looked hopeless or down and out… Now they are least competing for playoffs even if they might not win Cup. I figure Islanders need to win 8 games of their remaining to have any shot this year. Florida has to beat out CBJ if they want that 8th spot in my view. I think Devils will get in unless they choke down stretch but thumping Vegas 8-3 helps :). Vegas looks like an expansion team w/ bad karma since the Reeves trade. Even the Leipsic along w/ Tatar was bad. I got the only game Tatar scores on DVR, even yesterday he had open net but hit stick going in for Karlsson to get a goal… Or the New King Karl or the Real King of the North ;). Ilya used to play like 30 minutes a night on Devils it was insane :). Even if he can play 15 quality minutes a game he can have a good few years back in NHL. Carolina might try to pay him to go there or some other teams who can’t seem to score enough at forward. I know Frolov did well on Rangers for least a few seasons so maybe Russians like it there more than Islanders ;).

  4. I don’t know Lyle… your assessment of uncle mark seems biased by the obvious family ties.

  5. With Vegas having as successful a season as they have, I wonder if they will be looking at capitalizing on some of their assets that may have out-performed expectations.

    They have a heavy collection of forwards that have scored at a pace that most would not have guessed they were capable, especially given the team they were going to be playing with. While many of these players will continue to make up their core, it’s worth discussing, if for no other reason that interest, if it would be in Vegas’ best interests to move out someone you can sell high on if you feel you can take advantage in a deal for a team that is a little desperate. For example, would Edmonton vastly overpay for Erik Haula because he is easy to fit under the cap, and is on pace for 30 goals. Would a team craving a top 4 RHD pay a premium to get Colin Miller? Considering the rumors that they were considering moving him last year (which turned out to be false), and the value most put on him was a 2nd and an ok prospect, they could likely get substantially more given how he’s played this year.

    Would they even consider moving Karlsson rather than have him go to arbitration if they can’t reign in his ask? He could get awarded a lot on a one or two year deal that brings him to UFA status, but you may not want to pay him the type of money this year’s production would typically warrant ($6.5M+) given that he has played so far above expectations, and he is scoring on close to a quarter of his shots, which is just not sustainable.

    I am not saying they should move any of these players, but they are in an interesting situation, as they really do need to stock the cupboard if they want to become a sustainable playoff team, but need to balance that with keeping the team currently competitive. It’s an interesting situation to watch.

    • Really would not like to see them trade him. This is the risk with an “excpetional/unexpected” performance year for an RFA… the chemistry is strong— VGK has locked in March long term and he is older by 3 years(???) than Karlsson— so roll up the sleeves and pull together a good negotiation for a long term/reasonable contract. I don’t see a trade return valuable enough— coming back could only be younger prospects and picks— more of a risk/gamble—keep him

    • Karlsson will probably score 40 goals this season or close to that… Vegas has to sign him or keep him long term. They might have missed boat by not trading Neal, maybe Perron or some others though. They drafted too many D-men who were lefty shot that couldn’t flip for other players. So will lose a fair amt of players for nothing who just walk as UFAs, They are weak in net, unless Dansk can pan out :). Fleury looked awful against Devils who had to yank him then Lagace got shelled almost as bad :). After losing 8-3 I think that is more what will see from Vegas next season…

      Once they traded for Reeves it hurt their team and karma… Then they did the bad Tatar trade who has 1 goal entire time there so far. Leipsic was another guy who I think was under rated. ONly move I like lately is when they claimed Carpenter off waivers from the Sharks. HE has won a few stars in games at least before they ruined team getting dirty no talent Reeves ;).

      Basically Vegas gave up Pearson, Toffoli and like Dadanov or whatever on Florida for Tatar ;). So potentially 3 players who are better than Tatar for a guy making what 5M+?

      Colin Miller is their only legit right shot D-man who won fastest skater/hardest shot in AHL. IF they trade him they got nothing who can replace him or even come close. You even see the goal he scored against Devils other night ;)? Kings trading him for trash is main reason Lombardi ended up fired… That along w/ the Zykov trade, Jones/Lucic, even a 1st rounder all for nothing in the end of day :). Haula I think they should keep too he is type of player they need.

      Vegas don’t have dead money tied up in trash. Also they need to make a minimal salary cap hit… So even if they have to pay Karlsson 8M a year its better than letting him walk or flip him. Vegas isn’t a town that will tolerate losing or not competing… They had a lot of fans leaving when only down 8-3 vs. Devils :). That sold out arena can end up empty fast if team isn’t winning or have players worth watching.

      Most thought Neal would be among the league leaders in goals way season started… Him not getting traded might hurt them long term especially if he walks… Perron is another player who could walk which will hurt them. They will be losing a few d-men or others who are UFAs that wont get any assets back on already. Vegas needs to keep signing college players like that right shot D-men or others… Anybody who was drafted that a team loses rights to should be fair game. Claiming players off waivers like Subban or Carpenter is another way to kick tires or flip for something… Like maybe Subban has no value at time they do that move… Yet it might be enough to flip him for a pick or player now :). Somebody like Karlsson has to be like Ilya was for Atlanta Thrashers a face of franchise that sets a bunch of records.

  6. Why would the Rangers want to bring back Nash and Grabner if they’re going through a significant rebuild? Why roll the dice on an aging former star in the league? Why chase superstars via trade when they could be available in another season? These notions make very little sense.

    Pluck waiver players, acquire ripe young talent and draft well. These are things the Rangers never really did during Sather’s reign of terror, and all of Rangers Nation hopes Gorton learned from done of those wallet warrior mistakes.

    • I’d seriously disagree with “Pluck waiver players, acquire ripe young talent and draft well. These are things the Rangers never really did during Sather’s reign of terror”

      Anosimov, Dubinsky, Callahan, Stepan, Staal, Girardi, Fast, Kreider, Miller, Lundqvist, Zuccarello, Skjei, Hagelin, Lindberg, etc.

      But it seems only Redden, Drury, Gomez and Brad Richards stick out like sore thumbs to anyone outside.

      • You’re right, I was looking at a lot of the bad signings in the 90’s and attributing it to the wrong guy.

        Regarding the players you listed, only a few remain on this roster and only Hagelin has a cup ring, for another team. Other than Lundqvist, who willed the team into the playoffs his entire career, what has any of them accomplished at the NHL level? There’s a reason many were traded.

        What I’m getting at is, what they’ve been doing has been met with marginal success, if we’re measuring success as a team that makes it to the playoffs regularly. They were certainly contenders once or twice in that stretch, but hardly favorites to win the cup at any time in the last 7 years or so.

  7. TO OTT: RNH & Larsson
    TO EDM: Karlsson & JGP
    provided a contract extension can be worked out
    so then the indirect trade works out to be Hall for Karlsson lol


    • You’re not barking up the wrong tree but it would be Klefbom not Larrson. The Oilers would need to add or you take out Pageau and put Ryan and Lucic in the deal. Edmonton retains 2 mill on Lucic. Ottawa could flip Lucic retaining 1 mill of his salary. There are a lot of teams that would not mind paying Looch 3 mill a season. Something like
      Edm- RNH, Klefbom, Lucic(2 mill retained), 2018 second
      Ott- Karlson, Ryan, Craig Anderson

    • Karlsson is going to be looking for 11-13 per. How is that working with Mcdavid and Draisatl? Nevermind adding in Ryan even discounted and getting rid of Lucic.

      Karlsson won’t be going to Edmonton….

    • In your dreams. There is no way that deal ever happens. RNH has shown he can’t really get it done, and Larson is, well, Larson. JPG has been showing great promise since being promoted, and Karlsson is one of the best D’s the game has ever seen. Nice try.

  8. amazing ,i have the complete opposite view of
    NyR rebuild…. retool is more like it ,I M O
    we have striped it down and have a solid core
    and great ammo (picks ,prospects collected )to be back as a top contender NOT just making he P O ‘s
    Karllson is the key ,@27 gonna be 28 and HANK a
    close friend ,getting a top 5 D man top 10 talent in lg in prime for D is #1 target and a must.gotta pounch when talent at his level becomes available
    R N H is my 1st choice for NYR to procure due to $$ at center committed to by Edm.
    On NYR as our # 1 h aligns Zbad & hayes as 2-3
    and lets chtyl/anderson learn on the 4th line
    if not traded .
    NYR core is Zbad,Hayes Kreider,Vesey, Buchny,Fast
    D is Shey shattenkirk ….
    Add Karllson (trade),RNH(trade )F A van rymsdyk
    not bad , maybe Grabner ,with room for more

    everyone else here now may be here after the smoke clears but can be found in a trade including prospects & picks to get 2 major moves done