NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2018
Another NHL summer trade-candidate list, including the latest on Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and more in your NHL rumor mill.
REVIEWING THE ATHLETIC’S “NHL TRADE BIG BOARD”.
Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Phil Kessel, Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty and Carolina Hurricanes Jeff Skinner, Noah Hanifin and Justin Faulk top Craig Custance’s recent listing of 20 NHL players who could be on the move this summer.
Custance cites an NHL source saying he’d be shocked if Karlsson re-signs with the Senators, citing the bleak relationship between the blueliner and the front office. Ekman-Larsson is sitting on an eight-year, $8.25-million per season offer from the Coyotes, prompting one Western Conference executive to suggest the blueliner could stay put. Custance notes there’s debate over whether the Penguins will trade Kessel or not. If Pacioretty gets dealt at the trade deadline the Habs will want a significant return, while there’s an expectation the Hurricanes are going to shake things up.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan also believes the Senators could trade Karlsson this summer. He feels GM Pierre Dorion will make Karlsson an offer on July 1, the blueliner will reject it and Dorion will be forced to move him. The Vegas Golden Knights tried to acquire Karlsson at the trade deadline and could perhaps revisit their interest.
However, Brennan also believes winger Mike Hoffman will be gone before then, saying multiple sources confirm Dorion’s been shopping the winger for weeks. He speculates the return could be disappointing, citing a league executive saying it’s difficult to get value for players with big contracts. Brennan also wonders how moving both players could affect Matt Duchene, who has a year remaining on his contract.
I agree with Brennan that Hoffman’s likely to move before Karlsson. It wouldn’t surprise me if both players are dealt in the coming weeks. I know Dorion wants to keep Karlsson but if the latter won’t commit it makes no sense to keep him for one more year. Yes, they might get a better return at the trade deadline but having the uncertainty over his status drag throughout next season would an unnecessary distraction for the team and their fans. Best to move him out this summer for the best deal you can get and rebuild in earnest.
Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen come in at 8th and 9th on Custance’s list, followed by LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin rounding out the top 10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s growing speculation O’Reilly will be dealt, perhaps by the NHL Draft in two weeks time. I think it’s more likely O’Reilly gets moved than Ristolainen, as the Sabres could be unwilling to give up on the young defenseman. If the Kings are looking at a scoring winger, Muzzin could be used as trade bait.
Minnesota Wild winger Nino Niederreiter and defenseman Matt Dumba, Washington Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer, New York Rangers forward Vladislav Namestnikov, Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou, Chicago Blackhawks winger Artemi Anisimov, Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka, Red Wings blueliner Nick Jensen and Boston Bruins rearguard Torey Krug complete the remainder of the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under new management, the Wild could shake things up this summer. While I can see them moving a forward such as Niederreiter or Charlie Coyle, I’ll be surprised if they also part ways with Dumba. With Braden Holtby entrenched as the Capitals starter and promising Ilya Samsonov in the system, Grubauer (a restricted free agent with arbitration rights) could be dealt in the coming weeks.
Namestnikov is also an RFA with arbitration rights who’s completing a two-year deal worth $1.97 million annually. If his contract talks get sticky, perhaps the Rangers will put him on the block. If the Canadiens opt to re-sign Pacioretty they could instead move Galchenyuk. I think the Wings will try to be patient with Athanasiou, whose contract negotiations got contentious last summer. He’s got arbitration rights this year, which could make thing dicey. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to move Jensen.
Custance said there’s some debate over whether the Blackhawks will move Anisimov. His colleague, Scott Powers, recently reported hearing they could have interest in New York Islanders pending UFA John Tavares, though he admits that move would take considerably financial gymnastics to pull off.
Powers also heard the Blackhawks have interest in Hurricanes blueliner Justin Faulk and in bringing back goaltender Scott Darling. They could also look at pendings UFAs such as St. Louis Blues goalie Carter Hutton, Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk or Columbus Blue Jackets blueliner Ian Cole.
If the Blackhawks are looking at upgrading elsewhere in the lineup, maybe they’ll consider moving Anisimov, but I think they’ll consider other options.
Cap Friendly indicates the Blackhawks have over $68 million invested in 17 players with all their core players under contract next season. Assuming an $80-million cap ceiling next season, they have sufficient room to re-sign RFAs such as Vinnie Hinostroza, Tomas Jurco and Anthony Duclair, though their combined new salaries could push their cap payroll to around $74 million. However, if they can find a taker for all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa’s $5.275 million cap hit or place him on LTIR at the start of next season, they could have enough room to make a splash via trade or free agency.
With Valeri Nichushkin expected to return next season, perhaps the Stars won’t need to shop Honka for a top-six forward as Custance proposes. Krug’s been linked to the Edmonton Oilers in recent trade speculation. The Bruins are apparently looking for a bigger, more defensively responsible defenseman. Krug could be dangled as trade bait, though dealing him could affect their blueline production.