NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2018
Latest on Jeff Skinner, Phil Kessel, Ryan O’Reilly, Max Pacioretty, Noah Hanifin and Justin Faulk in your NHL rumor mill.
KINGS SEEKING WINGERS
FRS HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting the Los Angeles Kings are looking for scoring wingers. Citing the recent trade rumors coming out of Pittsburgh regarding Penguins forward Phil Kessel, McKenzie said the Kings are believed among several clubs with interest in the right winger. He thinks Kessel could be moved for the right price but he isn’t sure if that’ll happen.
McKenzie also said Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner is someone the Kings have interest in, along with Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty.
Nichols also cites Elliotte Friedman telling the NHL Network yesterday that he also thinks the Kings could be interested in Skinner. He also feels the Florida Panthers could be interested in the Hurricanes forward, who has a full no-movement clause but recently changed agents. He’s also curious to see what happens with Pacioretty, believing teams are interested in what he could want in a new contract. There’s reports he’s had contract extension talks with the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Kings are exploring the trade market for scoring help. However, it could cost them a good young forward such as Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson, a promising one like Adrian Kempe or a defenseman such as Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez.
As for Kessel, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford recently said he doesn’t feel he has to trade the winger, though it hasn’t fully quelled the conjecture suggesting he could be moved for the right price.
Regarding Pacioretty and reports he and the Canadiens have had preliminary contract discussions, TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie said Monday those talks haven’t happened yet. I don’t doubt teams have interest in the Montreal captain, but they could be leery of acquiring him if there’s no assurances he’ll be under contract beyond next July.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES
McKenzie also touched on speculation about the Buffalo Sabres potentially trading Ryan O’Reilly. He said the Hurricanes are interested in the center and he could see the Sabres having interest in Jeff Skinner.
Skinner only a year remaining on his contract. If Hurricanes management believe he’s not sticking around beyond next season, they could approach him about waiving his no-movement clause this summer. For a team lacking scoring punch, it doesn’t make sense to move one of their best scorers unless they can get an offensive forward, preferably a center, in return. A swap of Skinner for O’Reilly would make sense, though the latter’s $7.5 million annual cap hit could be a sticking point, as could Skinner’s UFA status next summer.
FRS HOCKEY: Nichols cites McKenzie’s appearance yesterday on Vancouver’s TSN 1040 discussing the possible availability of Hurricanes defensemen Noah Hanifin and Justin Faulk. While there’s currently no urgency on trades, he said he knows the Canucks expressed interest in Hanifin. McKenzie believes the Hurricanes will trade Hanifin or Faulk but not both. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Vancouver also has interest in Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly.
THE ATHLETIC: JD Burke examined the pros, cons and questions regarding the Canucks reported pursuit of Noah Hanifin. He points out it won’t be cheap, citing the Vancouver Sun’s Ben Kuzma’s recent assessment that it could cost the Canucks their first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft plus one of their prime young roster players to make it happen.
BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont wonders if the Boston Bruins will make a pitch for Hanifin. Citing the Hurricanes new ownership’s desire to make changes while holding down their budget, Dupont notes the Bruins have depth in prospects (Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka) to tempt Carolina general manager Don Waddell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I don’t rule out the possibility of the Hurricanes trading Skinner, I believe they’re more likely to draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait to acquire a scoring forward.
I think Faulk is more likely to be moved than the 21-year-old Hanifin, who still has lots of upside and should blossom into a solid top-two defenseman. I also look at Waddell’s recent comments about some players “that maybe a fresh change and a fresh team might be good for them, and bring us some assets that we could use.” Faulk could fall into that category.