NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2018
Check out the latest offseason speculation for the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues in your NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE KINGS?
ESPN.COM: Sorting out Drew Doughty’s future and improving the offensive depth are among Greg Wyshynski’s keys to the offseason for the Los Angeles Kings. Doughty, 28, is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Kings can open contract extension talks on July 1. Earlier this season, Doughty raised eyebrows by saying he’d seek to maximize his market value, even suggesting he’d swap contact numbers with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson. Meanwhile, limited salary-cap room could affect efforts to boost their offense.
SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre also believes Doughty’s future is at the heart of the Kings’ offseason challenges. Noting how the Kings were the bigger, slower team in their opening-round sweep at the hand of the the smaller, faster Vegas Golden Knights, he feels they must change to adapt to the NHL’s changing game. “Their expensive roster is aging and, compared to the best teams in the Western Conference, their top players are getting slower by the year.”
MacIntyre also noted Doughty’s comments last November suggesting he and Karlsson deserve “quite a bit more” than the $9 million annually earned by Nashville’s P.K. Subban. “If you’re the Kings and in transition, are you going to pay Doughty, say, $100 million for eight more seasons? Or are you going to speed the transformation of your roster by getting a bundle of assets in return for the best defenceman in the game?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty’s status hasn’t attracted as much attention as Karlsson’s, but given the Kings’ swift playoff elimination by the upstart Golden Knights, his name could come up more often in this summer’s rumor mill. Cap Friendly indicates the Kings have over $32 million invested in Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Dion Phaneuf. Doughty could seek over $10-million annually on an eight-year deal, which will bite even more deeply into their payroll for the coming years. It could also hamper efforts to transition toward a younger, faster roster. Doughty’s status could attract interest from rival clubs with salary-cap space seeking a blueline stud.
LATEST ON THE BLUES
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford examined possible offseason moves by St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. He notes Armstrong had talks with the Ottawa Senators about winger Mike Hoffman and the Montreal Canadiens about left wing Max Pacioretty before the trade deadline. It’s believed those teams were among those that wanted Armstrong to part with two of his top prospects, which he didn’t want to do. He’s willing to move one for the right deal as there aren’t enough for six young forwards to crack the Blues lineup in the near future. With a possible $10 million in salary-cap room after re-signing their key free agents, Armstrong feels his club can be active in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets.
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with his readers, Jeff Gordon suggested the Blues should attempt a trade for a center, suggesting the Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly as a possible trade target. Gordon also noted New York Islanders center John Tavares could be available in this summer’s free-agent market, but the high cost of signing him could create long-term challenges for the Blues. He’s also against pursuing Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk, citing his age (he turns 29 in May) and the potential high cost of signing him. He doesn’t rule out bringing back Paul Stastny from Winnipeg via free agency for the right term and salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $62 million invested in 18 players. If they re-sign key free agents such as Kyle Brodziak, Carter Hutton and Joel Edmundson, they could have $10 million available if the cap ceiling rises to $80 million as expected.
Armstrong said his club has the resources to take on additional salary if needed, but I doubt he’ll pursue expensive UFAs such as Tavares or van Riemsdyk. He’s got the depth in young assets to swing a deal for someone such as O’Reilly, Hoffman or perhaps Pacioretty if he’s willing to sign a contract extension. If he’s unwilling to part with two of his top prospects, however, landing one of those established forwards will be difficult.