NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2018
Latest on P.K. Subban, Joe Thornton, Paul Stastny, Philipp Grubauer and Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.
UPDATES ON THE PREDATORS, SHARKS, SENATORS AND JETS
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Nashville Predators general manager David Poile is puzzled over the recent trade rumors about defenseman P.K. Subban. Poile said a Subban trade isn’t happening, saying no one has called him about the blueliner and he didn’t know where the speculation was coming from.
LeBrun guesses it originated from the Predators inquiring about Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson before the trade deadline, as well as the fact rearguards Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi will be due new contracts within the next two yers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the Subban trade conjecture also suggested his out-sized personality could rub some of his Predators teammates the wrong way, just as he apparently did during his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. There didn’t seem to be any real substance to the chatter. Yes, Subban got traded once before and maybe he could get dealt again one day, but if we take Poile at his word (and I do), that’s not happening this summer.
LeBrun also reports the San Jose Sharks could announce a contract extension for forward Logan Couture if all goes well by July 1. The two-way center become eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status.
There’s also a sense the Sharks and long-time center Joe Thornton have a mutual interest in getting something done. Thornton becomes a UFA on July 1. LeBrun points out a lot can happen over the next three weeks, noting the Sharks have been linked to pending UFAs such as Ilya Kovalchuk and the New York Islanders’ John Tavares.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couture is currently earning $6-million annually so he won’t be cheap to re-sign. Still, I think they’ll get it done. Over the past three years, he’s become a solid performer and team leader. If the Sharks end up landing Tavares or Kovalchuk, I doubt they can afford to bring back Thornton.
Agent Matt Keator, who represents Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny, said they’ve had no real contact discussions yet with the club. Noting the number of players due for new contracts between now and next summer (including Connor Hellebuyck, Blake Wheeler, Jacob Trouba, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Josh Morrissey), LeBrun doesn’t see a fit for Stastny unless the Jets move out some salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun points out, Stastny is the second-best center (behind Tavares) in this summer’s UFA market. He’ll attract plenty of interest, thanks in part to his stellar performance for Winnipeg down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Jets would probably love to keep him but I don’t think that’s possible.
LeBrun also suggests keeping an eye on Ottawa Senators center Zack Smith. While the Senators aren’t as eager to trade him as they are Mike Hoffman, there are teams who had interest in him during the season who could circle back this summer.
CAPITALS TO TRADE GRUBAUER
THE WASHINGTON POST: Samantha Pell reports Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan yesterday said he’ll be shopping goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The 26-year-old netminder is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who believes he’s proven himself as an NHL starter.
MacLellan said he’s love to re-sign Grubauer but understands the goalie’s need to be in a larger role. “The New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames are potential suitors for Grubauer,” said Pell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer’s put up good career numbers (2.29 goals-against average, .923 save percentage) with the Capitals and did a fine job spelling off starter Braden Holtby when the latter struggled at times this season. The Capitals shouldn’t have any trouble finding a suitable trade partner.
Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $63.7 million invested in 16 players, but they’ll likely invest around $8 million annually to re-sign pending UFA defenseman John Carlson, which will take a big bite out of their remaining cap space. They could seek a draft pick and a prospect for Grubauer, rather than take back a salaried player.
LATEST KOVALCHUK NEWS
THE DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa casts a skeptical eye upon reports linking the Red Wings to former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who intends to return to the league this summer. He considers the chances of Kovalchuk signing with the Red Wings to be slim.
Krupa feels the Wings’ rumored interest in Kovalchuk could be about bringing in an established star to skate with young players such as Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, as well as perhaps anticipating a possible retirement of Henrik Zetterberg after next season and to boost ticket sales. Still, he doesn’t think Kovalchuk is a good fit for the rebuilding Red Wings, especially with the winger’s likely preference to join a Stanley Cup contender.
SPORTSNET: Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said he’s doing his due diligence on Kovalchuk, though he wouldn’t confirm or deny he’s met with the veteran forward. “I’m kicking tires on everything,” Nill said. “It’s my duty to see what’s out there so I am talking to all the free agents who are out there just to see where it’s at.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve merely summarized the main points of Krupa’s piece. I recommend reading the entire thing as he provides an in-depth explanation of why he doesn’t see Kovalchuk joining the Red Wings.
The Stars, on the other hand, could use some experienced secondary scoring and might benefit from having Kovalchuk on the roster. Remains to be seen, however, if Dallas is on his radar.