NHL Rumor Mill – July 24, 2018
Latest on Jacob Trouba’s future with the Winnipeg Jets plus an update on some of the remaining UFAs in your NHL rumor mill.
ARE TROUBA’S DAYS IN WINNIPEG DRAWING TO A CLOSE?
NBC SPORTS: Scott Billeck took note of the one-year, $5.5-million contract awarded to Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba by an arbitrator on Sunday. With Trouba two years away from eligibility for unrestricted free agency and once against due to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, Billeck wonders if the blueliner’s time in Winnipeg might be coming to an end.
Speculation over the inability between Trouba and the Jets to work out a long-term deal has prompted speculation the defenseman is angling to depart Winnipeg. There was a significant gap between the two sides prior to his arbitration hearing, with the Trouba camp seeking $7 million and the Jets’ $4 million.
Trading him this summer is an option but Billeck doesn’t consider it the best one if the Jets are serious about making a run for the Stanley Cup in 2018-19. If the Jets trade Trouba, he speculates the asking price could be “a comparable rostered defenseman or a very highly-touted prospect rearguard.”
Billeck expects there will be several potential suitors if Trouba hits the trade block “but pinning down who and what is involved is anyone’s guess.” He proposes the New York Islanders (who have Manitoba native Ryan Pulock on their blueline) or the Detroit Red Wings as possible options, though acknowledges that’s just pure speculation on his part.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre notes the Jets will likely face a salary-cap crunch next summer. Trouba, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp, Joe Morrow and Laurent Brossoit will be restricted free agents while Blake Wheeler, Brandon Tanev, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot will be UFAs. Among McIntyre’s suggests options to address this issue could be trading Trouba, which “would not only be best for both sides, but a necessity from Winnipeg’s perspective.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could surprise us by trading Trouba this summer but I doubt he’ll go that route. He’ll keep his current roster intact to make another serious run for the Cup this coming season. Next summer, however, is another matter. Cap Friendly indicates the Jets currently have over $43 million invested in just nine players. Assuming the salary cap reaches $83 million for 2019-20, they’ll have $40 million to work with.
Sounds like a lot but perhaps half of that will be eaten up in new contracts for Wheeler and Laine, while the others will be due significant raises. Should Trouba have a career year, he’ll be able to justify pushing for over $7 million per season.
While a lot can happen between now and next summer, trading Trouba next June, perhaps during the NHL Draft weekend, could be their best option to ensure sufficient cap room to maintain the bulk of their roster. He’ll attract considerable interest in the trade market.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently updated his list of the remaining top-10 NHL UFAs. Among the notable updates is a July 13 report claiming the Chicago Blackhawks contacted former Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Luca Sbisa. There’s also surprise former Dallas Stars blueliner Dan Hamhuis hasn’t been signed by anyone yet.
Buffalo’s WKBW’s Matt Bove suggests the Sabres should consider adding veteran rearguard Brooks Orpik to an affordable one-year deal to bring in some experience and leadership. He could also be used as a trade chip near next February’s trade deadline.
A report out of Russia has Avangard Omsk coach Bob Hartley trying to woo forward Mike Cammalleri. The agent for defenseman Alexei Emelin recently said his client had spoken with several teams but declined to say if the Montreal Canadiens were among them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These players have now fallen into the off-season limbo that occurs after the opening two weeks of the free-agent market. When most of the best players are signed up, teams become more budget conscious, meaning those players still available in the UFA market could be forced to wait for weeks before getting new contracts. General managers are also currently focused for the next two weeks upon dealing with players slated for arbitration hearings.
Some of these players, such as Hamhuis and Sbisa, could get new contracts before the start of training camp in September. The others, however, could be forced to accept professional tryout offers, contract proposals from KHL or European teams or retirement.