NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2018
Latest on the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes in your NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS
BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont recently reported Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said his club would like to add some size to the left side of their blueline in the offseason. Dupont noted hulking Zdeno Chara and the much smaller Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk skated on the left side this season.
GM Don Sweeney could seek that bigger left-side d-man via trade or free agency. Dupont suggested it could take peddling Krug ($5.25-million cap hit). While he’s their top offensive blueliner, Dupont pointed out he “doesn’t provide the quality five-on-five minutes that a traditional top-four blue liner must contribute.”
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty listed Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin, Edmonton Oilers blueliner Oscar Klefbom, Minnesota Wild rearguard Jonas Brodin, Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk and Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds as possible trade/free-agent targets for the Bruins.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe McDonald reported Bruins GM Don Sweeney isn’t ruling out making a deal to get back into the first round of this year’s draft. Sweeney dealt away his first-round selection to the New York Rangers as part of the return for winger Rick Nash.
McDonald noted the Edmonton Oilers could be willing to part with their first-round pick (10th overall) for the right offer. He suggested perhaps packaging Krug with some other assets in an offer to the Oilers, giving the Bruins flexibility to acquire an elite left-side blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s obvious Sweeney intends to work on improving his defense corps for next season. He’s got the depth to perhaps put together a trade to address that need, with Krug as the likely centerpiece.
Hanifin would be the best fit and Sweeney attempted to move up in the first round of the 2015 draft in hopes of landing him. The Hurricanes could shake things up this summer but it could take more than Krug in a package deal to pry Hanifin out of Carolina.
As for swapping Krug for Klefbom, the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson recently tweeted the 27-year-old Krug is two years older, only two years away from UFA eligibility, currently earns $1 million more per season and shoots left, not right. In other words, Krug probably isn’t the right fit for the Oilers.
Brodin could be a viable option. Like the Hurricanes, the Wild will be under new management and could look at some kind of roster reorganization.
As for bringing in a scoring forward, van Riemsdyk could be easier to get than Simmonds, as I’m not convinced the Flyers want to part with him. JvR won’t be cheap, as he’ll likely seek over $6.5-million annually on a six- or seven-year deal.
LATEST SABRES AND HURRICANES SPECULATION
FRS NETWORK HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites TSN insider Bob McKenzie talking about the possibility of a culture change for the Buffalo Sabres in his latest “Bobcast.” He believe they’ll be “all ears” for everyone except Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin, suggesting center Ryan O’Reilly as the most likely core player to be dealt this summer. He feels the Sabres want to surround Eichel and Dahlin with younger players.
Given O’Reilly value as a top two-line center, McKenzie believes he should fetch multiple pieces, “very similar to the Mike Richards from Philadelphia to Los Angeles style of deal” in 2012. He thinks the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens could be interested in O’Reilly. His contract, however, could be a sticking point, as he’s earning an annual salary-cap hit of $7.5 million through 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me if O’Reilly gets dealt this summer, perhaps in the week leading up to the 2018 NHL draft weekend (June 22-23). Despite O’Reilly’s hefty salary, his skills will certainly attract lots of attention if he’s placed on the trade block.
Cap Friendly indicates he lacks no-trade protection, giving the Sabres plenty of potential trade partners to work with. The Hurricanes’ depth in young defensemen gives them an edge over the Canadiens, but the Habs could be more willing to take on his contract.
Speaking of the Hurricanes (and some pundits have been doing a lot of that lately), McKenzie believes change is in store for their roster given their recent shakeups in the front office and behind the bench. He believes winger Jeff Skinner’s time in Carolina could be coming to an end, though he has a full no-movement clause and controls the situation. He’s also a year away from UFA eligibility and McKenzie doubts the Hurricanes will get a big return for him. Still, McKenzie thinks there’s interest in Skinner and believes the Los Angeles Kings could be among the suitors.
McKenzie doesn’t see young defensemen such as Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce heading out the door, but believes the Hurricanes could listen to offers for Noah Hanifin or Justin Faulk. He also thinks they could listen on center Victor Rask and suggested they could have interest in Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like O’Reilly, Skinner has popped up quite a bit of late in the rumor mill. While he could put the kibosh on a trade, I think he’d be willing to waive his clause to go to a contender, especially one that would be willing to ink him to a lucrative contract extension. The Kings could use his offense but I’m not sure if they can comfortably afford signing him to an expensive new deal.
The rise of Sebastian Aho and the possibility of promising Martin Necas cracking the roster next season could make Rask expendable. I still think the Hurricanes would prefer moving Faulk rather than Hanifin but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the latter getting dealt if a rival club makes a big pitch for him.