2018 NHL Draft Rumor Mill (Day Two) – June 23, 2018
Plenty of trade speculation entering Day Two of the 2018 NHL Draft. Here’s the latest on John Tavares, Ilya Kovalchuk, Artemi Panarin and many more in the rumor mill.
TEAMS WAITING ON TAVARES AND KOVALCHUK?
TSN: Darren Dreger believes the status of pending unrestricted free agents John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk explains in part why there were no trades involving NHL players during the opening round of the 2018 NHL Draft. The interview period for UFAs to speak with rival clubs begins Monday, June 25. Tavares is expected to declare today if he intends to go through the interview process.
If Tavares stays with the Isles, Dreger speculates that could put pressure on teams like the San Jose Sharks, who cleared considerable salary-cap space to perhaps take a run at signing Tavares, to instead pursue Kovalchuk. If the winger comes off the deck, perhaps that forces some of the teams interested in him to instead pursue Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner or Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars could be among three teams assured of meetings with Tavares if he opts to go through the interview process. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings (“the latter a long-desired destination of Tavares if he were to leave the Isles”) could also get into the mix.
In other Islanders speculation, Staple notes they still need a goaltender. Those who might be available – Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov via trade, Robin Lehner and Carter Hutton via free agency – won’t knock anyone’s socks off. The Isles are also believed to have interest in Canadiens winger Pacioretty. The asking price is said to be “a roster forward, a prospect and a draft pick”.
STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong confirmed his club isn’t in on the bidding for Kovalchuk. The Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights are believed the suitors for the Russian winger. Speculation suggests the Blues are among the clubs with interest in Carolina’s Jeff Skinner. In other Blues news, the Buffalo Sabres parting ways with goaltender Robin Lehner could make the Blues pending UFA goalie Carter Hutton a target for the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given all the buildup of speculation heading into the opening round involving several noteworthy NHL stars, the lack of movement was a significant letdown for hockey fans anticipating a major deal. Of course, a major move could take place today, tomorrow or in the days leading up to the start of free agency on July 1. But with this year’s first-round picks now off the board, that could also affect potential deals in the trade market.
The recent increase in the salary cap ceiling to $79.5 million provides a significant boost for clubs looking to bolster their rosters next season, but some of them could be waiting to see what Tavares and Kovalchuk do before opting to invest in the trade market. The Islanders still need a goaltender. The Canadiens still need a quality center. The Blues and Kings want to improve their scoring punch. The Carolina Hurricanes still appear intent on shaking things up. It’ll be very surprising if they all leave those issues unaddressed over the next couple of weeks.
LATEST ON PANARIN
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are willing to trade winger Artemi Panarin, who’s declined to discuss a contract extension at the present time. However, no team will trade for him unless they can get assurances he’ll re-sign with them. If he’ll only play for limited markets (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Vegas) it significantly restricts the Blue Jackets trade options. Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could trade Panarin this weekend, next week, next season or not at all.
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin isn’t interested in signing a long-term contract extension with St. Louis. Multiple sources claim Panarin has his eye on a “major market”. He added the Blues don’t appear to be among the clubs Tavares could meet with via the interview process.
EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson also reports Panarin “only wants to play in a big city’. Matheson believes the Jackets need a first-line center who’s better than Pierre-Luc Dubois and Alexander Wennberg and suggests Los Angeles or Chicago as possible destinations. “Would the Jackets take winger Tyler Toffoli and something else from LA? Would the Jackets take young centre Nick Schmaltz and send him back to the Hawks where he loved it?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of mixed messages starting to appear about Panarin’s status. On the one hand, he’s reportedly told the Jackets he’d be willing to talk contract in the fall. However, these reports that the winger wants to play in a big city and isn’t interested in signing with the Blues suggests the Jackets are fielding offers or actively shopping him.
If Panarin indeed wants a trade to a big market, the Blackhawks could be interested in getting him back, but I don’t think they’re keen to part with Schmaltz. The Kings could be reluctant to move Toffoli. Vegas has the cap space and assets to get into the bidding, but I’m not sure the rebuilding Rangers want to take on a high-salaried winger at this time.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS, LIGHTNING, HURRICANES AND AVALANCHE
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Prior to the opening round of the 2018 draft, Joe Haggerty reported of rumblings linking Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom to the Boston Bruins. He noted Bruins blueliner Torey Krug has been often speculated as a player who could go to Edmonton in return for Klefbom.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports if the Tampa Bay Lightning make a trade it won’t involve center Tyler Johnson. His no-trade clause kicks in on July 1 but the Lightning aren’t expected to move him. Smith adds the Lightning would rather tweak their roster than remove a core player.
Meeting between Elias Lindholm camp and Hurricanes’ brass did not go well today, I’m told. Still far apart on a contract. A trade now is very much possible.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 22, 2018
The Avs intend to either trade Orpik and if they can’t find a trade partner, they will probably buy him out… Colorado has already spoken to Grubauer’s agent as well. He’s RFA. Contract shouldn’t be an issue. https://t.co/t9RaWfCbU6
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 22, 2018