NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2018
Latest on Jeff Skinner, Tyler Bozak and Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.
SKINNER ON THE TRADE BLOCK?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Carolina Hurricanes need an edge as they feel they’re too easy to play against. Winger Jeff Skinner is a year away from eligibility for unrestricted free agency and they’re going to test his value in this summer’s trade market. Friedman believes the Los Angeles Kings would be interested in Skinner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings might be interested in Skinner but they might not have what the Hurricanes need. In addition to toughness, Carolina also requires more scoring punch at center. Maybe they’ll try using Skinner as trade bait to address that problem. They could also dangle one of their good young defensemen. If Skinner’s available, he’ll be attractive to teams in need of offensive depth. The Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks could come calling.
COULD BOZAK RETURN WITH THE LEAFS?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons speculated the Maple Leafs could look at re-signing Tyler Bozak. He pointed out how thin this summer’s free-agent market is for centers beyond John Tavares. He noted the Leafs asked Joe Thornton last summer if he was interested. Thornton’s a UFA again this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny and Boston’s Riley Nash are UFAs this summer. After them, however, the depth drops off. If Bozak’s willing to accept a reasonable short-term deal, I could see him back with the Leafs next season.
RANGERS CONTACT KOVALCHUK’S AGENT
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reported Rangers general manger Jeff Gorton acknowledged making preliminary contact with Jay Grossman, the agent for former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk. “We’ve checked in with him. It’s fair to say that’s something we’re going to look at again further and see what’s going on,” he said. Kovalchuk, 35, spent the past five season in the KHL and became an unrestricted free agent on Apr. 15. He’s free to negotiate with NHL teams but cannot officially sign a contract until July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation linked the Rangers to Kovalchuk for several months now. Other NHL clubs could also come calling but it’s believed the Blueshirts could be the front-runners for his services.