NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2018
The Erik Karlsson trade watch continues plus the latest on Max Pacioretty and Torey Krug in your NHL rumor mill.
KARLSSON TRADE WATCH UPDATE
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports all was quiet yesterday on the Erik Karlsson trade front. Though the Senators have allowed the blueliner’s agents to speak with two teams (“and possibly more”), there’s no evidence that a deal is imminent. The Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning have pursued Karlsson for months and the Dallas Stars recently entered the picture.
Garrioch feels signing Karlsson shouldn’t be an issue to the interested clubs, as it’s expected the blueliner, who’s a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent, could seek a deal comparable to the eight-year, $88-million contract recently signed by the LA Kings’ Drew Doughty.The return sought by the Senators could be the stumbling block.
Garrioch also believes the Senators will get a lesser return if they insist on adding winger Bobby Ryan and his $7.25-million annual cap hit as part of the deal. The Golden Knights could be the only team willing to do that deal. He said the Senators keeping the door open to a deal without Ryan or moving him separately.
Trade discussions seemed to fizzle yesterday after it appeared a deal could be imminent, in part due to the July 4th holiday in the United States. Senators GM Pierre Dorion will be patient as he won’t move Karlsson unless he gets the right return.
SPORTSDAY: Josh Lile doubts the Dallas Stars, who were in talks with the Senators, will part with promising defenseman Miro Heiskanen as part of a return for Erik Karlsson. He suggests the Stars could shift their focus to other trade options if this situation drags into August. Lile also believes the Stars shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to land Karlsson if it means accepting Bobby Ryan as part of the deal, recommending the Stars request the Senators absorb part of his $7.25-million annual cap hit.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are still in the mix for Karlsson, though it’s uncertain if they’re among the clubs the Senators have granted permission to speak to Karlsson’s agents. Creating cap room for Karlsson, however, could be difficult. The Lightning would have to send a salaried player the other way plus the Senators’ asking price could include young blueliner Mikhail Sergachev. The Lightning also have future contracts for Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brayden Point to consider.
Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are among the clubs that contacted the Senators about Karlsson. “But, sources said, a deal is unlikely to be reached between the two clubs unless Senators general manager Pierre Dorion significantly lowers his asking price.” Portzline said neither Seth Jones or Zach Werenski were discussed as part of a possible deal. One league sources thinks the Jackets probably offered up winger Artemi Panarin, but the Sens aren’t interested in a player who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Garrioch noted, things could change quickly but it doesn’t appear at this point that a Karlsson trade is imminent. Dorion has understandably set a high price and, for the time being, can afford to wait for someone to meet it. That tactic could backfire if interested parties wait him out in hopes he’ll accept a lesser return. He could also be waiting for other teams get into the mix in hopes of setting up a bidding war.
Dorion may be keen to include Ryan in the deal, as it would shed a big cap hit. It appears for now, however, that he’s willing to keep him out of it if it’ll adversely affect the potential return for Karlsson. Perhaps if he’s willing to pick up part of Ryan’s cap hit, maybe a team like the Stars would accept it, but I think Dorion wants Ryan completely off his books.
It certainly seems like the Stars won’t part with the promising Heiskanen, who is projected to become a future NHL star. It was rumored they preferred parting with Julius Honka.
It could become too complicated at this point for the Lightning to land Karlsson. Cap Friendly indicates they have around $4.4 million in projected cap space for 2018-19, which isn’t enough to take on his current $6.5-million cap hit. With Kucherov and Point due for new contracts next summer and Vasilevskiy due in 2020, the Lightning could face gutting a significant part of their roster to make room for the whopping great raise Karlsson will seek in his next contract.
As for the Blue Jackets, their interest in Karlsson is understandable but I don’t see that deal happening. Either Jones or Werenski have to be part of it or the Jackets re-sign Panarin and then ship him to the Senators.
PACIORETTY AND KRUG
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes the Montreal Canadiens should forget about trying to trade captain Max Pacioretty and instead re-sign him. The 29-year-old left wing wants to stay in Montreal and Hickey believes he’s worth keeping if there’s no trade to be had that’ll bring back a first-line center. The Canadiens reportedly made two attempts to trade Pacioretty, including a deal to the Los Angeles Kings during the draft that fell apart because the winger wouldn’t commit to signing a contract extension with the Kings.
THE ATHLETIC: Marc Antoine Godin also believes a contract extension for Pacioretty would make sense. He notes the Canadiens could once again have plenty of salary-cap space next summer, giving them plenty of room to re-sign their captain. He also pointed out most of the top UFAs show a reluctance to sign with the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hickey and Godin make a good case for retaining Pacioretty but it remains to be seen if the Habs front office shares their view. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t discuss contract negotiations. Last month, it was reported the Canadiens had started discussions with the Pacioretty camp about a contract extension, though that was seen as potentially setting the stage for a “sign-and-trade” scenario.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty recently noted the Boston Bruins’ addition of John Moore gives them a surplus of defenseman heading into 2018-19. He suggests that could make puck-moving blueliner Torey Krug an attractive trade chip to bring in a scoring forward. He cites Krug’s 110 points over the past two seasons, considering him an easy sell for clubs seeking production from their blueline, especially on the power play.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter also thinks Bruins GM Don Sweeney is in the market for a scoring forward, pointing to his failed pursuits of John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk. He wonders if Krug or promising winger Jake DeBrusk could be dangled for a winger such as Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Krug is definitely available and could be shopped for a scoring winger. Whether that move happens this summer remains to be seen. Potentially interested clubs might prefer waiting until training camp or preseason to evaluate their rosters before deciding on such a move. Krug also carries an eight-team “no-trade” list and a $5.25-million annual cap hit, both of which could complicate trade efforts. I don’t see the Bruins being keen to part with DeBrusk.