NHL Rumor Mill – July 3, 2018
Teams reportedly talking contract with Erik Karlsson, plus the latest on the Islanders and Maple Leafs in your NHL rumor mill.
TEAMS TALKING CONTRACT WITH KARLSSON
SPORTSNET: cited a report by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks citing sources claiming the Ottawa Senators have given permission to teams interested in acquiring Erik Karlsson permission to talk contract extension with the all-star defenseman. The report was confirmed by Sportsnet’s John Shannon. This comes a day after the Senators tabled an eight-year contract extension to Karlsson, who’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch suggests Karlsson could seek a deal comparable to the eight-year, $88-million contract recently signed by Drew Doughty with the Los Angeles Kings. He also expects the San Jose Sharks to step up efforts to acquire Karlsson after failing to land John Tavares via free agency. However, a league executive tells Garrioch the Sharks don’t have a lot in their prospect pool to tempt the Senators.
Garrioch also listed “the Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and New York Rangers” as potential suitors. The Golden Knights and Lightning were rumored to be interested in Karlsson leading up to February’s trade deadline. He speculates Vegas could also be willing to take on winger Bobby Ryan and his $7.25-million AAV through the next four seasons as part of the deal, though Garrioch thinks they would offer up less of a return under that scenario.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson reminds us that, even if the Senators have reconciled themselves to trading Karlsson, the blueliner holds all the cards. He points out how Karlsson’s trade value would be affected if he opts not to negotiate a contract extension with a Senators’ trade partner and plays out the season with the intent of heading to free agency next summer.
THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello cites sources close to the Rangers claiming they won’t pursue Karlsson via trade. Such a move would go against their rebuild and they’re unwilling to give up top prospects to get him. They’re also don’t want to take on Ryan’s contract and would be unwilling to extend Karlsson to the type of deal Doughty received with the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could shape up to be the “Summer of Karlsson”, as speculation over his future could dominate the headlines now that the free-agent frenzy is dying down. I don’t think he has a future beyond 2018-19 with the Senators. While he could reject a contract extension and hit the open market next summer, I’m not sure he’d be keen to deal with the constant media questioning and the disappointment he’ll surely face from Senators fans by playing out the string in Ottawa.
Karlsson could seek a larger deal than Doughty’s ($12-million or more per season), but there will be teams willing to pay that on a contract extension if they can hammer out a suitable trade package with the Sens. If a trade can be made and an eight-year contract extension worked out, the gaining club would have Karlsson for nine seasons, as he’s already under contract for 2018-19.
As for potential suitors, looks like we can rule out the Rangers. I still think the Golden Knights could be the front-runner as they came close to acquiring Karlsson at the trade deadline. The Senators might be willing to accept a lesser return from Vegas if they can also shed Ryan’s contract in the deal. The Sharks could be interested but their focus seems to be on landing a scoring forward.
The Lightning could be in the running but they’ll have to dump considerable salary to make this work. As for the Capitals, they appear intent on keeping the bulk of their championship roster intact. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $8 million in cap space but I expect half of that will go toward re-signing restricted free agent winger Tom Wilson. Acquiring Karlsson is too costly for them.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?
NHL.COM: Having failed to prevent John Tavares’ departure via free agent, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello still has a busy summer ahead of him. Brian Compton lists finding a starting goaltender, extending the contract of winger Anders Lee, determining who will be their second-line center and upgrading the defense as the priorities. Goalies such as Ottawa’s Craig Anderson and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard have surfaced this summer in trade rumors.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports the Islanders are interested in bringing back Calvin de Haan. Defense trade options could include Carolina’s Justin Faulk or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. He also notes the Islanders have the cap space and depth in prospects to make an offer for Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and can also take on Bobby Ryan as part of the deal. Possible goaltender trade targets could include “Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, Semyon Varlamov and Cory Schneider.
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross indicates the trade market could include Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and goaltender Craig Anderson. Netminder Robin Lehner is also available in the UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Islanders are willing to offer a monstrous contract to Karlsson, I have my doubts he’ll consider them an attractive trade destination. They stand a better chance of acquiring Anderson, though I don’t think the Sens want to part with him despite his trade request. The Isles could stand a more reasonable chance acquiring someone like Faulk or Dumba, though I’m not convinced the latter is available.
If the Wings put Howard on the trade block I believe it’ll happen near the February trade deadline if they’re out of playoff contention by then. Ditto Varlamov, as the Avs likely want to see how well new goaltender Philipp Grubauer adjusts to the starter’s job. While Keith Kinkaid played well spelling off an injured Schneider last season, I don’t think Devils GM Ray Shero is in a rush to move Schneider this summer.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will turn his focus toward improving the club’s defense. Former Islanders blueliner Calvin de Haan is attracting lots of interest in the free-agent market. Dubas acknowledged his younger players will eventually be in line for significant raises but he stressed the Leafs are “well situated to handle that when it comes. We’ll always be flexible.”
TSN: cites a report from the New York Post’s Larry Brooks claiming Leafs winger Matt Martin is in demand on the trade market. The Athletic’s James Mirtle also reports the Leafs were trying to move Martin and noted the Rangers as a potential destination.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martin was a frequent healthy scratch last season with the Leafs and didn’t get any playing time during their first-round series against Boston. He’s signed through 2019-20 with an annual cap hit of $2.5 million. The Leafs likely aren’t seeking much in return, though a high demand for Martin could push up their asking price.