NHL Rumor Mill – August 20, 2018
Latest on the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild in your NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE JETS INVEST MORE IN THEIR FORWARDS?
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Paul Wiecek recently wondered if a coming salary-cap crunch for the Winnipeg Jets and the uncertainty surrounding the contract statuses of defensemen Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrisey might lead to a change in how they prioritize their spending. Instead of a team built like the Nashville Predators, he suggests emulating the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, who invested more in their forwards than their defensemen. He points out the Pittsburgh Penguins were also top-heavy when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
If the Jets follow the same pattern, they could be investing heavily in wingers Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor at the end of 2018-19. With the Jets unable to sign Trouba to a long-term deal and facing UFA status in 2020, there’s little incentive for the blueliner to remain in Winnipeg long-term. Re-signing him to a lengthy deal could also make it difficult to keep those forwards under contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a collapse that knocks the Jets out of playoff contention this season, Trouba won’t be going anywhere. However, I don’t see how they can afford to keep him, Morrissey, Laine, Wheeler and Connor next summer.
Something’s gotta give and it’ll likely be Trouba sometime next summer, perhaps dealt during the NHL Draft weekend in late-June. Parting ways with him should give the Jets sufficient cap room to re-sign those other key players.
COULD THE WILD FACE BLOWING UP THEIR ROSTER?
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien wonders if the time is drawing near for the Minnesota Wild to consider shedding some aging players in favor of retooling with younger ones. He notes Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal, Ryan Suter and Devan Dubnyk are 32-or-older. Given Parise’s health issues, moving his hefty contract probably isn’t feasible but the time could be ideal to consider shopping some of the others.
It might be wise to move Staal, a pending free agent next July, as he’s coming off a 42-goal campaign. Suter’s perceived value remains high but his heavy workload could start catching up with him. A savvy club could see Koivu as worth the risk though the extra year on his contract could be difficult to sell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild general manager Paul Fenton appears more interested in tweaking his current roster than overhauling it. However, that could change if the Wild fall out of playoff contention before the trade deadline or once again become first-round road kill. Besides, moving some of those veterans will be difficult.
Suter’s has a $7.53 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 with a full no-movement clause. Koivu also has a full no-move and a $5.5-million cap hit through 2019-20. Staal ($3.5 million) and Dubnyk ($4.33 million through 2020-21) have modified no-trades and more affordable cap hits, making them easier to peddle.