NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2018
Latest on the Oilers, Coyotes and Stars in your NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently examined the roster weaknesses that must address by the Edmonton Oilers this summer. He feels they must add a reliable backup goaltender, a scoring winger and a right-handed defenseman. However, they have only enough salary-cap room to address the first two issues.
Mitchell also explored the possibility of the Oilers trading their 2018 first-round pick if it comes in between No.9-12 in the draft order. If the Oilers win the draft lottery or move up into the top three, he thinks they’ll retain that pick. If the Oilers shop the pick, Mitchell believes it could be used as part of a deal to add an established defenseman.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins makes an educated guess over which defenseman could be on Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli’s radar this summer. Trade options could include Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Calgary’s Dougie Hamilton, Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Carolina’s Justin Faulk, Vegas’ Colin Miller or Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, though the latter option is a long shot. Free agent targets could be Washington’s John Carlson, Detroit’s Mike Green or the New York Islanders’ Calvin de Haan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli got a voice of confidence by Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson, but the pressure’s on to improve the roster and get them back on track following this season’s disappointing performance. Cap Friendly indicates the Oilers have over $61.5 million invested in 14 players, with RFA defenseman Darnell Nurse due for a significant raise. Chiarelli could attempt to find more cap space by moving an expensive veteran such as Milan Lucic or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Lucic, however, has a full no-movement clause and his trade value could take a hit following this season’s struggling effort. Chiarelli’s already said he’s not trading Nugent-Hopkins this summer.
As for those trade and free agent options, Faulk, Miller, Green and de Haan could be the most realistic choices. Chiarelli could attract serious suitors for his first-round pick but that remains to be seen. If the Oilers win the draft lottery again, they’ll get lots of interest from rival clubs but probably not a sufficient return that addresses their significant needs.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Adding a proven scorer (or two) and re-signing defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson are among Richard Morin’s keys to the Arizona Coyotes’ offseason. He believes the Coyotes have slim odds of signing New York Islanders pending free-agent John Tavares, looking instead at Toronto’s James van Riemsyk, New Jersey’s Patrick Maroon and Boston’s Rick Nash as more viable options. Ekman-Larsson is under contract through next season, after which he’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status. Morin feels it would be wise for the Coyotes to get him under contract this summer.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan considers re-signing Ekman-Larsson a critical piece of the Coyotes’ summer plans. During his exit interview with the media on Monday, the blueliner repeated his hope of working out a contract extension. “I’ve said it so many times. This is where I want to be. Hopefully we can work something out,” said Ekman-Larsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I know there are followers of clubs in need of a top-two defenseman (hello there, fans of the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs) hoping to land Ekman-Larsson via trade this summer or perhaps next year via free agency. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Coyotes re-sign him to an eight-year deal worth around $8 million annually. He wants to stay and they want to keep him. I don’t see the Coyotes wasting this opportunity.
As for scorers, van Riemsdyk is the best of that bunch listed by Morin, but I think the winger’s preference will be joining a perennial playoff club. Maroon has two consecutive 40-plus point seasons on his resume but I don’t think he’ll address the Coyotes’ needs. Nash, meanwhile, turns 34 in June and is well past his best-before date.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika reports the future of Jason Spezza will be among the priorities for Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill. The veteran forward turns 35 in June, has a year remaining on his contract ($7.5- million annual average value) and is coming off the worst season of his career. Heika believes Nill faces three choices with Spezza: “bring him back at that salary, buy him out at two-thirds of that salary ($5 million) spread out over two years ($2.5 million per), or try to trade him even if they must eat as much as half of his salary.” On Monday, Nill said he intends to sit down with Spezza to evaluate his future with the club.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sean Shapiro was asked what the Stars second line could look like next season. He speculated it could consist of “Mattias Janmark and Valeri Nichushkin being centered by an off-season acquisition”, perhaps someone like Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly, who needs a change of scenery.
Asked about possible backup goalie options, Shapiro suggests Toronto’s Calvin Pickard or Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson. He also advocates pursuing Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone via trade by packaging “a first-round pick in 2018, a third-round pick in 2019, and any prospect not named Miro Heiskanen”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Spezza also carries a modified no-trade clause with a 10-team no-trade list. If Nill tries to trade the center he’ll either have to pick up a big chunk of Spezza’s cap hit or take back a toxic contract. I think Nill will attempt to find a trade partner in June and if unsuccessful will buy him out by June 30. That would free up cap space if they want to pursue someone such as O’Reilly. I don’t think the Senators are interested in moving Stone, who’s a restricted free agent this summer.