NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2018
Latest on the New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross reports Lou Lamoriello, the new president of hockey operations for the New York Islanders, isn’t planning to rebuild their roster. “He wants to win now,” a league source said of Lamoriello, 75. “He took the job because he thought he had the assets.”
The Isles need a proven starting goaltender, which could come at the cost of one of their first-round selections (11th and 12th overall) in this year’s draft. They also need at least one, perhaps two, top-four defensemen. Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk and former New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk are both unrestricted free agents this summer and have previous ties to Lamoriello.
FRS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling NHL Network on Wednesday that he believes the Islanders brought in Lamoriello in part to convince team captain John Tavares to stay. Tavares is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He feels the organization is going to make a serious push to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello could be planning on a couple of bold moves prior to July 1 in hopes of convincing Tavares to stay put. The Isles have two picks in each of the first two rounds in this year’s draft. Lamoriello could use one or two of those as trade bait to bring in a goaltender and a defenseman. He could package those with some of the promising prospects within his system, such as Kieffer Bellows or Joshua Ho-Sang. He could also peddle a veteran such as forward Brock Nelson.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan believes Evander Kane’s new seven-year, $49-million contract with the San Jose Sharks is great news for Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent next July. The 29-year-old Canadiens captain is a five-time 30-goal scorer. The question now is whether Pacioretty will be negotiating that deal with Montreal GM Marc Bergevin or with another club. Cowan speculates Pacioretty could be headed elsewhere via trade.
TVA SPORTS: Dallas Stars winger Antoine Roussel said he’d be willing to sign with the Canadiens if he’s unable to reach an agreement with his current club. Roussel, 28, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He’s still hoping to re-sign with the Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pacioretty, who was hampered by injuries this season, regains his 30-goal form next season, he’ll easily get over $7 million annually on a long-term deal. However, I doubt it’s going to be with the Canadiens.
There were plenty of rumblings this season suggesting Pacioretty could be dealt. While they didn’t come to pass, there’s an expectation he could be shopped this summer or before next season’s trade deadline. As for Roussel, the Habs are in need of more scoring and blueline depth, so he might not suit their needs.
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently noted the Edmonton Oilers will have to shop on a budget this summer to address their need for a backup goaltender, a puck-moving defenseman for their power play and perhaps a winger or two. The recent signing of KHL goaltender Mikko Koskinen makes him the front-runner for the backup spot.
The changes in Carolina Hurricanes management could make it possible for the Oilers to land a promising forward such as Warren Foegele and Lucas Wallmark. Mitchell also suggests New York Islanders winger Joshua Ho-Sang could be available.
While Mitchell believes the Oilers should be aggressive pursuing a puck-moving blueliner, he considers free agents such as John Carlson and Mike Green or attempting to acquire Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson as non-starters for the Oilers. GM Peter Chiarelli could instead make a smaller move, perhaps by targeting defensemen such as Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers, Boston’s Torey Krug or the Islanders’ Nick Leddy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed Chiarelli could make a big trade to bring in a puck-moving rearguard. That could be easier said than done. Chiarelli does hold an enticing trade chip with his first round pick (10th overall), which he could package with a top prospect. There’s also speculation that Oscar Klefbom could be a trade candidate.
I doubt that Barrie, Myers and Leddy will be available. Krug could be, though he’s not a right-handed shot and carries a $5.25-million cap hit for two more years with a modified no-trade clause that kicks in on July 1.