NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2018
Recent updates on the Canadiens and Jets in your NHL rumor mill.
CANADIENS AND PACIORETTY
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Brendan Kelly believes Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is stuck between a rock and a hard place with captain Max Pacioretty. The 29-year-old left winger is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status.
Noting the Canadiens GM’s reported efforts to move Pacioretty for months, Kelly believes Bergevin’s peers know he’s desperate to trade his captain before the start of the season. As a result, they’re offering less than fair market value because they know Bergevin has little room to manoeuvre here. Pacioretty’s trade status could become an unnecessary distraction if he’s not dealt before the start of the season.
Kelly’s colleague Pat Hickey reports some Canadiens fans believe the club should try to trade defenseman Shea Weber or goaltender Carey Price. The state of Weber’s health and his hefty contract makes that unlikely while few teams could have interest in Price’s expensive new deal after last season’s meltdown. That leaves Pacioretty, who Bergevin appears keen to trade despite the winger’s desire to re-sign with the Canadiens. As it’s doubtful Bergevin will get full value for his captain, Hickey proposes they attempt to reset their relationship and work out a new contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Pacioretty would be costly (perhaps $7 million per season) and I don’t believe the two sides can work things out now. If there’s not a decent trade to be found before the start of the season, Bergevin will retain Pacioretty in hopes the market improves. He’ll likely point to the Colorado Avalanche starting last season with Matt Duchene before shipping him in mid-November to the Ottawa Senators in a three-way deal, noting how the Avs improved following that move.
QUESTIONS REMAIN FOR JETS
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes the Winnipeg Jets’ offseason has raised more questions than it has answered. With Paul Stastny having signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, McIntyre wonders who’ll fill the second-line center position. They do have several internal options, such as Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler or perhaps Jack Roslovic. They’ll also have to look at a new defense partner for Dustin Byfuglien with Toby Enstrom and the Jets having parted company. Tyler Myers was one option mentioned by coach Paul Maurice.
McIntyre also points out the Jets have limited salary-cap space with Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor due new contracts next summer. Given Jacob Trouba’s one-year, $5.5-million deal awarded last month via arbitration, this could be headed toward a messy breakup. “As long as Winnipeg remains in playoff contention and Trouba is playing a big role, a mid-season move seems unlikely, ” said McIntyre. “But the issue isn’t going away and will have to be dealt with sooner than later.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will look internally to address those questions before looking outside the organization for help. If they can’t find those fixes from within, they’ll dabble in the trade market or the waiver wire.
As for Trouba, unless the Jets face-plant in 2018-19 he won’t be moved by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. I think he gets dealt next summer, probably in late-June.