NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2018
Latest on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.
CHANGES COMING FOR PENGUINS?
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW: Jason Mackey and Jonathan Bombulie report Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford believes his club still has to nucleus to win another Stanley Cup. However, he’s open to making some roster changes. “I can’t give you a definite answer on who that’s going to be right now and exactly the positions, but we’re a good team, and we will be a good team going forward.”
Rutherford intends to have promising winger Daniel Sprong in the lineup next season. With young forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon having cracked the roster this season, Bombulie feels they have a surplus of wingers. He speculated Rutherford could draw from that depth to perhaps bolster the Penguins defense.
Mackey proposed possibly shopping winger Carl Hagelin, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agency. “He could trade Kris Letang or Phil Kessel, though neither of those options seem terribly likely at the moment, especially not the first one.” Mackey also suggested little-used defenseman Matt Hunwick could be moved, while young goaltender Tristan Jarry could interest clubs seeking depth between the pipes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Penguins have over $70 million invested in 17 players next season. Riley Sheahan, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackel, Dominik Simon and Jamie Oleksiak are restricted free agents with arbitration rights while Chad Ruhwedel is their sole unrestricted free agent. Should the salary cap reach $80 million they have sufficient space to perhaps re-sign all of those players, but not enough to add via free agency or trade without shedding salary first.
A trade or buyout of Hunwick appears certain. Hagelin, who turns 30 in August, has a $4-million salary-cap hit and could prove difficult to move unless the Pens absorb part of his annual average salary. They could try to move Brassard, who also has a year left on his deal ($3 million cap hit) but I think Rutherford might prefer retaining him for next season in hopes he improves. They aren’t trading Letang and I’ll be very surprised if they ship out Kessel. If they peddle a winger it could be someone like Rust or Kuhnhackel.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes the odds are high that the Edmonton Oilers trade their first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2018 NHL Draft. He feels whatever defenseman is available at that spot is two or three years away from reaching the NHL and the Oilers don’t want to risk wasting any more of captain Connor McDavid’s prime years. Matheson notes the Oilers need “immediate offensive punch for a defence that had 29 goals last year.” He rules out pursuing Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson as the cost would be too high.
Matheson feels they’ll move the pick for a right-shot rearguard. “Do they trade the 10th overall pick for a young offensive defenceman on the cusp of being an NHL regular, package the 10th and a young player for someone better or try for a straight-up swap with winger Jesse Puljujarvi, the most marketable target, or left-shot defenceman Oscar Klefbom because they’ve got too many lefties on the blue-line in Darnell Nurse, Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell?”
Matheson’s proposed trade targets include Carolina’s Justin Faulk, St. Louis Colton Parayko (acknowledging he could be a pipe dream), Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Vegas’ Colin Miller or Anaheim’s Brandon Montour (a long shot).
Lots of people tossing out Torey Krug for Oscar Klefbom trade idea because Krug is more offensive-minded but Krug, 27, has two years left until he’s UFA and Oscar, 25 in July, has 5 yrs and Krug makes $1 mil more on cap hit. Plus Krug shoots left not right.
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) May 9, 2018
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Oilers will trade that pick for a right-shot defenseman, likely packaged with a good young prospect or player. Given the Hurricanes blueline depth and recent management changes, they could be the most likely trade target, though I think their preference is swapping a d-man for a scoring center. I’ll be very surprised if the Blues move Parayko or the Avs part with Barrie. I don’t see Montour going anywhere.
Vegas lacks a first-round pick in this year’s draft. Given their stunning success this season, the emergence of William Karlsson, Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore and their plethora of extra picks in this year’s draft and the next two, maybe they’re not keen to part with Miller.