Updated NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2018
Latest speculation on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers in your NHL rumor mill.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford intends to bring “more depth and more balance at forward and defense” to his roster this summer.
Bombulie believes Rutherford could add “a low-cost right-handed defenseman or fourth-line right winger” with few changes to his roster. Going after bigger fish, however, would mean shedding significant salary.
The Penguins GM said he’s not going to be able to move anyone that free up considerable cap room, adding he’d only consider it if it would result in improving the team right away.
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe feels Rutherford pulling the trigger on a trade seems inevitable, pointng the Penguins GM has a long history of making deals around the time of the NHL Draft. He noted the Penguins were interested in Max Domi before he was dealt by the Arizona Coyotes last Friday to the Montreal Canadiens. Though Rutherford said he doesn’t have to do anything, Yohe feels if a move comes it’ll involve a Penguins forward.
TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie speculates Penguins winger Phil Kessel could be moved as early as this week, pointing out Kessel’s unhappiness over not skating regularly on Evgeni Malkin’s line and his seemingly acrimonious relationship with head coach Mike Sullivan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since the start of this month, Rutherford twice dismissed speculation claiming Kessel was being shopped or that he was getting offers for the winger. But as we enter the busiest time in the offseason for player movement, Kessel could remain in the rumor mill.
If Rutherford intends to chase a big-name talent, he’ll definitely have to move a high-salaried guy like Kessel to make it happen. The Penguins interest in Domi gives some indication of the type of low-cost player Rutherford could have in mind.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers examines some possible cost-cutting moves for the Chicago Blackhawks.
One could be shopping the rights of all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa ($5.275-million cap hit). With Nick Schmaltz emerging as their second-line center, Artem Anisimov ($4.55 million) could be a trade candidate. To add a right-handed defenseman, Powers feels the Blackhawks must move either Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million), Connor Murphy ($3.85 million) or Jan Rutta ($2.3 million). Seabrook’s big contract and right-handed shot makes him unlikely to be dealt.
If they’re able to shed a significant salary, they could have sufficient room to pursue a second-line winger such as Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk or a top-four right-shooting defenseman like Carolina’s Justin Faulk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Powers also notes the Blackhawks could use a backup goaltender (such as Carter Hutton) and a fourth-line winger (like Tommy Wingels). Freeing up cap room to address those needs shouldn’t be too difficult. To land a scoring winger or top-four blueliner will require more.
Moving Hossa’s cap hit is possible if they include a sweetener, such as a draft pick or prospect. If they feel comfortable with Schmaltz centering the second line they could find takers for Anisimov from teams in need of depth at center, such as the Carolina Hurricanes or Montreal Canadiens.
COURIER POST: Dave Isaac reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall has the salary-cap room to potentially make a splash via this summer’s free-agent market. After years of being strapped for cap payroll space, the Flyers could have between $18 million to $22 million available for 2018-19 Their biggest needs are a right-handed defenseman to play alongside Ivan Provorov on the top defense pairing and a third-line center.
Hextall said he’s “not going to reach out on a seven-year deal on a good player, I can assure you that,” which takes the Flyers out of the market for Washington’s John Carlson. Finding a suitable defense option could be easier to find in the trade market. Affordable center options could include Toronto’s Tyler Bozak or Boston’s Riley Nash.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Hextall going shopping for a defenseman via trade. He has depth in promising young players to use as trade bait, as well as an additional pick in this year’s draft (from St. Louis) to use as bait. I agree with Isaac that Hextall could find it easier addressing his third-line center needs via free agency. Bozak could be a good, affordable short-term option.