NHL Rumor Mill – June 21, 2018
The latest on Erik Karlsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Phil Kessel, Dougie Hamilton, Ilya Kovalchuk and more in your NHL rumor mill.
KARLSSON TRADE WATCH
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is in “listening mode” regarding trade offers for defenseman Erik Karlsson, but he believes at some point a team (Vegas Golden Knights? Somebody else?) will step up with an offer too good to resist.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith wonders if the Tampa Bay Lightning could take another run at landing Karlsson. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman attempted to acquire the Senators superstar at the February trade deadline but found the asking price too expensive. Less costly trade options could include Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, Carolina’s Justin Faulk and Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators could also again attempt to package high-salaried ($7.25 million annual cap hit) winger Bobby Ryan, who has four seasons remaining on his contract, with Karlsson. Dorion will set a high ask again, though interested clubs will likely want the opportunity to speak with Karlsson about a contract extension. If the blueliner’s unwilling to do that, the Sens GM could have a difficult time finding the right offer.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Yzerman revisits his interest in Karlsson. He has the depth in assets to tempt Dorion but I question if he could afford to keep him long-term. Karlsson will likely seek over $10 million annually on his next contract, which could prove steep for Yzerman, especially when he’s got Nikita Kucherov also due for a big raise. I also don’t see him agreeing to take on Ryan’s contract.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes it’s the Buffalo Sabres intention to trade center Ryan O’Reilly in the next two weeks, though they’re quite happen to retain him for next season if they don’t find a suitable offer. O’Reilly’s getting a $7.5 million signing bonus on July 1 and some interested parties (Carolina Hurricanes) would prefer to pursue a deal after that, but the Sabres are indicating they’ll want more in return if they have to pay that bonus.
Others, like the Montreal Canadiens, aren’t concerned about the bonus. The sticking point for the Habs, however, is the Sabres could want the third overall pick in this year’s draft. LeBrun’s also heard the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers have expressed interest in O’Reilly.
FRS HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites Darren Dreger sharing his thoughts on Sabres’ Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen during an appearance yesterday on Buffalo’s WGR 550. He said he hasn’t heard anything really new on the two young players, though he believes there’s a strong market for Ristolainen. He’s heard the Anaheim Ducks have interest and would be surprised if the Edmonton Oilers haven’t called. GM Jason Botterill isn’t going to move Ristolainen unless he’s got a winning return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres GM Jason Botterill can take his time gauging interest in O’Reilly. He doesn’t have to move him this summer. No surprise he wants that third overall pick from the Canadiens. I’d like to think GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t want to move it, even for O’Reilly, but given his recent history for surprising moves we probably can’t rule it out.
I don’t doubt Botterill is listening to offers for Ristolainen but I think it would be a mistake to give up on this kid. It’s not his fault his play struggled last season because of the club’s culture of losing. It’s up to Botterill and head coach Phil Housley to change that.
LATEST ON KESSEL AND THE PENGUINS
ARIZONA SPORTS: Matt Layman reports Coyotes GM John Chayka disputed a report yesterday in The Athletic claiming his club was the preferred trade destination for Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel, but the Coyotes informed the Penguins that deal wouldn’t happen for financial reasons.
“I think it’s terrible reporting,” Chayka said. “It’s inaccurate across the board from start to finish. I don’t know where some things come up. I’m the one having trade discussions, those discussions with the Penguins haven’t occurred. Unless someone else is making calls that I don’t know about, I’m not sure where his information’s coming from.”
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports a glut of wingers believed available in this summer’s trade market could complicate any potential efforts by the Penguins to move Kessel. “Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, Columbus’ Artemi Panarin and Carolina’s Jeff Skinner have been among a half-dozen big-time scoring wingers rumored to be on the trade market,” writes Bombulie, who also noted left wing Ilya Kovalchuk is available via free agency.
POST-GAZETTE.COM: Jason Mackey reports multiple sources claim the Penguins have discussed the possibility of signing Columbus Blue Jackets pending UFA defenseman Jack Johnson. Mackey notes Johnson is good friends with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and it’s believed Crosby would like Johnson to consider joining the Penguins. General manager Jim Rutherford also drafted Johnson in 2005 when he was GM of the Carolina Hurricanes. Signing Johnson, however, could mean shedding some salary, with “the list of possibilities there includes Matt Hunwick ($2.25 million), Conor Sheary ($3 million) and Carl Hagelin ($4 million).”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has continually said he’s not shopping Kessel. Doesn’t mean he won’t listen to offers but if we take him at his word he’s not calling around looking for suitors. As for Johnson, Mackey also notes the Penguins have a good history of rehabbing defensemen, from Sergei Gonchar to Justin Schultz to Jamie Oleksiak, so perhaps Johnson could be a good fit as well.
HURRICANES AND FLAMES TALKING TRADE?
TSN: Ryan Rishaug noted Carolina Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm, 23, needs a new contract and wondered what the future holds for him. LeBrun said that’s still to be determined. While left wing Jeff Skinner remains the most likely to be traded, as well as defenseman Justin Faulk, Lindholm is a dynamic young player who’s garnered a lot of interest.
The Calgary Flames are rumored to have interest, with other names such as Flames blueliner Dougie Hamilton and Hurricanes rearguard Noah Hanifin also being bandied about, though it remains to be seen if those discussions go to the next level. LeBrun said the Hurricanes haven’t given up trying to re-sign Lindholm. Dreger noted the Flames need more scoring up front and Hamilton’s name has come up in the rumor mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting to hear Lindholm’s name surfacing in the rumor mill. While the Hurricanes are reportedly willing to entertain offers on everyone except Sebastian Aho, Lindholm would appear to be one worth retaining. Carolina GM Don Waddell could be listening but it’ll take a significant offer to convince him to part with Lindholm.
As for Hamilton, he would make a tempting trade chip to bring in a scoring forward, though the Flames would be giving up offense from the blueline by moving him. His name has frequently surfaced in media trade chatter but I still have my doubts that they’ll move him.
UPDATE ON KOVALCHUK
TSN: Darren Dreger believes the top contenders for free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk include the Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. It seems likely Kovalchuk could make a decision before July 1 but he might be best suited to wait until New York Islanders center John Tavares makes his decision, as the Russian winger could be a suitable “Plan B” for clubs that miss out on Tavares.