NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2018
Latest on Max Pacioretty and Erik Karlsson plus a recent update on the Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
CANADIENS TO TRADE PACIORETTY?
THE ATHLETIC: Marc Antoine Godin reports an NHL source claims Montreal Canadiens general manager has told captain Max Pacioretty that he won’t receive a contract extension and the club’s intention is to trade him as soon as possible. Pacioretty’s new agent, Allan Walsh, declined to comment except to say his client loves Montreal and hopes to stay.
It’s believed Pacioretty will seek a lucrative long-term contract after his current deal turned out to be one of the league’s biggest bargains. The 29-year-old left wing would prefer to re-sign with the Canadiens but there’s been trade speculation stretching back to December. Bergevin does not publicly comment about contract talks with his players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already a bit of push-back against this story, suggesting this could be an agent’s tactic and pointing out the rumor didn’t come from a Montreal source. Still, it was widely reportedly the Canadiens had a trade in place to send Pacioretty to the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL Draft last month but the deal fell through because he declined to sign a contract extension with the Kings.
Rumors linked Pacioretty to the Kings, San Jose Sharks. St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers. With the Kings having signed Ilya Kovalchuk and the Blues yesterday inking Patrick Maroon, they’re likely out of the market for a scoring winger. The Sharks, who lost out in the bidding for John Tavares, could be the leading suitor.
It’s widely assumed the Canadiens would want a scoring center in exchange for Pacioretty but that return could be difficult to land if he intends to hit the open market next summer. As per Cap Friendly, he lacks no-trade protection so he could be unwilling to sign a contract extension with the Canadiens unless he gets a guarantee that he won’t be dealt during the final season of his current contract.
SIGNING KUCHEROV WON’T AFFECT LIGHTNING’S EFFORTS TO LAND KARLSSON
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signing winger Nikita Kucherov yesterday to an eight-year, $76-million contract extension doesn’t preclude the Lightning from acquiring Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. GM Steve Yzerman didn’t mention Karlsson by name but said any report that he was close to making a major acquisition was “very inaccurate”. However, he didn’t rule out the possibility of taking on a high-salaried player, though they’d “have to make the money work, so to speak.”
Smith notes the Lightning have around $4 million in cap space for 2018-19 while Karlsson’s annual cap hit is $6.5 million. Defensemen Braydon Coburn ($3.7 million), Anton Stralman ($4.5 million) and Dan Girardi ($3 million) come off the books next summer as unrestricted free agents. However, Smith suggests the Lightning would still have to move a contract, such as that of winger Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million annually) or center Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV), to re-sign Karlsson, who’s also due to become a UFA next July. No-trade clauses for those like Callahan and Johnson could also complicate things.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman won’t say he’s pursuing another team’s player via trade as that would be considered tampering. However, it’s no secret the Lightning GM is trying to work out a deal with the Senators for Karlsson.
As Yzerman noted, making the dollars work is a sticking point. There was talk last week of the Lightning trying to get a third club involved, like the New York Rangers, to take a salaried player off their hands. Still, the Senators will also have to take one or two contracts from the Lightning to make this work.
It’s believed they want promising young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as part of the return. They could also ask for another young roster players such as 22-year-old center Brayden Point.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
THE PROVINCE: Last week, Jason Botchford noted the Vancouver Canucks kept saying they wanted to be active in this summer’s trade market. However, they “may have to be creative to get it done.”
Botchford recommended retaining up to half the annual cap hit of a defenseman like Ben Hutton ($2.8 million) or Michael Del Zotto ($3 million), consider moving a player like Nikolay Goldobin or Brendan Gaunce rather than risk losing them to waivers, or move a veteran such as Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner or Sven Baertschi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule out the Canucks considering any of these options, though they might end up having to wait until the season is underway to drum up some interest.
Hutton and Del Zotto are both entering the final season of their contracts so maybe, as Botchford suggests, a rival club could consider one of them as a reclamation project. Goldobin or Gaunce could improve into full-time roster players so moving either guy this summer could be premature.
Sutter would have to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt. Gagner lacks no-trade protection but teams could balk at his $3.15-million cap hit through 2019-20. The Canucks recently re-signed Baertchi to a three-year deal worth over $3.36 million. Having him under contract could make him easier to move but I think they see him as part of their rebuilding plan.