NHL Rumor Mill Update – June 21, 2018
Latest on the Canadiens, Oilers, and Kings in your latest NHL Rumor Mill update.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty is a player to watch heading into the 2018 NHL Draft weekend. He wonders if Pacioretty could be part of a package to bring the Canadiens a much-needed scoring center.
Seravalli said the 29-year-old Canadiens captain has been linked to the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres, with the Habs apparently interested in Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly. It could take packaging Pacioretty with draft picks and prospects to land O’Reilly. Seravalli notes the Canadiens have four in the second round of this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation has the Sabres seeking the Canadiens first-round pick, which is third overall in this year’s draft. Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin has indicated he’s willing to listen to offers for that pick.
Maybe Bergevin will peddle it for O’Reilly, though that probably won’t sit well with Habs fans unwilling to see the future given up for what they consider a quick fix. I’m of the opinion the acquisition of Max Domi last week could set the stage for Pacioretty being dealt for a center. Giving up “Patches” in a package deal for O’Reilly might be more palatable to the Montreal faithful.
OILERS WILLING TO MOVE 10TH OVERALL PICK
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said he’s willing to part with his first-round pick (10th overall) for a quality defenseman. Chiarelli said he’s had some discussions but admitted it’s not easy finding a deal. He also touched on the status of left winger Milan Lucic, who’s been the subject of considerable trade speculation, saying he expects a motivated Lucic in training camp this fall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule out the possibility of Chiarelli finding a decent top-four defenseman with that pick, but I daresay the teams he’s speaking to want something else included besides that pick. He’s not dealing from a position of strength here. Wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps that pick and selects a young defenseman with it.
As for Lucic, a trade could be possible but the speculation over his future has quieted in recent days. Chiarelli’s remarks suggests there’s not a suitable deal to be found for the big winger.
KINGS SEEKING OFFENSE
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper speculates over which scoring wingers the Los Angeles Kings might target to bolster their offense. An NHL team executive tells him the Kings are looking at signing a winger in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market, or hoping to buy low in the trade market with Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty or Carolina’s Jeff Skinner. The Kings could have around $9 million in salary-cap room if the cap ceiling reaches $80 million as projected for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings have already spoken with free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk, so they could be leaning toward a UFA option. Cooper also lists the Islanders’ John Tavares, Vegas’ James Neal, Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk and New Jersey’s Michael Grabner as other possible free-agent targets.
I think Tavares will be far too expensive for the Kings if he goes to market, which isn’t a certainty. Kovalchuk, Neal and van Riemsdyk could all seek at least $6 million annually, leaving Grabner as a much more affordable option, though he’s not considered in the same class.