NHL Rumor Mill – April 5, 2018
Latest speculation on Milan Lucic and Jacob Trouba plus a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets defense corps in your NHL rumor mill.
ANY TAKERS FOR LUCIC?
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell examined the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers finding a taker for veteran winger Milan Lucic and his expensive contract. He noted a buyout option would be punishing. While there’s a belief Lucic’s contract is untradeable, Mitchell suggested it’s possible if the Oilers are willing to take on another problem contract or sweeten the deal. Lucic also has a full no-movement clause until 2021, meaning he’d have to be willing to move on. Mitchell pointed out the Los Angeles Kings were able to peddle Marian Gaborik for Dion Phaneuf while the Oilers shipped Jordan Eberle last summer to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome.
At the time of his signing with the Oilers, the Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens expressed interest. Mitchell suggested a swap of Lucic to Montreal for Andrew Shaw, who’s earning $3.9 million annually for four more seasons. He also speculated Lucic might welcome a return to the Boston Bruins, though it’s less certain if they’d be interested.
If Lucic were willing to expand his trade options, Mitchell proposed “Jason Spezza from Dallas (one more year at $7.5 million); Bobby Ryan from Ottawa ($7.25 million times four); Brent Seabrook from Chicago ($6.875 million times six years); Kyle Okposo from Buffalo ($6 million times five more years); Brandon Dubinsky ($5.85 million times three more seasons); Travis Zajac from New Jersey ($5.75 million times three).”
Mitchell also felt the Oilers might be better to wait until a team comes calling willing to overpay. They could also wait until 2020, when there could be another lockout that could be followed by another round of compliance buyouts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the 30-year-old Lucic, whose performance declined noticeably this season, has five years remaining on his seven-year, $42-million deal. Factor in his no-movement clause and that’s a hefty contract to move. As per the examples Mitchell cited, it’s not impossible but trying to make it work won’t be easy.
While the Kings and Canadiens had interest in Lucic in 2016 a lot has changed for both clubs since then, so I don’t see them as potential destinations now. The Sens and Blackhawks could try to move Ryan or Seabrook this summer but I doubt they’d be keen to take back Lucic despite his lower annual average value. The Sabres, Blues Jackets and Devils would prefer to shed salary so I don’t see them as destinations for Lucic. As for the Stars, they could simply buy out Spezza’s final season and eat the $2.5- million cap hit in 2019-20.
TROUBA’S CONTRACT TALKS COULD GET INTERESTING AGAIN
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited Bob McKenzie’s appearance Monday on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 discussing the contract situation of Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, who’s a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. He said he hasn’t heard of any contract discussions yet and wouldn’t be surprised if both sides have decided to wait until after the season to begin negotiations.
While the Jets have done a good job getting their key players under reasonable long-term deals, McKenzie noted that new deals for Trouba and winger Patrik Laine (who has a year left on his entry-level contract) could affect their salary structure. McKenzie also noted Trouba is represented by agent Kurt Overhardt, who landed an eight-year, $64-million contract for client Ryan Johansen with the Nashville Predators. Trouba is earning $2.8 million this season and his camp will drive a hard bargain on his next deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba’s previous contract negotiations with the Jets in the summer of 2016 resulted in a lengthy standoff that wasn’t resolved until November of that year, when he inked his current two-year deal worth considerably less than the long-term deal his camp originally sought. During that time his name frequently surfaced as a trade candidate, but Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff insisted he wasn’t shopping the blueliner. Given the contentious nature of their previous negotiations, Trouba’s contract status could bear watching this summer.
JACKETS FACE SOME DECISIONS ON DEFENSE
THE ATHLETIC: In the wake of the Columbus Blue Jackets re-signing defensemen Markus Nutivaara and Dean Kukan to new contracts, Aaron Portzline examined the effect those moves could have on the club’s offseason plans for their blueline. The Jackets currently have 10 defensemen on their roster.
Portzline suggests the chances of pending unrestricted free agent Jack Johnson returning with the Jackets are “almost nil at this point”, especially if they re-sign Ian Cole. It’s unclear how much of a raise Cole, another pending UFA, might seek over his current $2.1-million cap hit. With Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin due for big raises in the near future, perhaps Cole might be too expensive to keep. Ryan Murray is a talented restricted free agent hampered by injuries earlier in his career. That could affect his value if the Jackets decide to trade him.