NHL Rumor Mill – August 24, 2018
The latest Erik Karlsson speculation plus updates on the Detroit Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.
SENATORS INCHING CLOSER TO MOVING KARLSSON?
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators don’t want to get caught up in false deadlines or move defenseman Erik Karlsson just for the sake of doing so. However, there’s talk the club hopes to move defenseman Erik Karlsson before the start of training camp on Sept. 13. While the Senators weren’t close to getting what they wanted in a deal in early-July, they could be inching toward it now.
Trade talk has picked up recently after dying down following a frenzy of speculation in early-July. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks are believed to have interest in the all-star blueliner.
Garrioch also notes a report Thursday claiming Karlsson won’t sign a contract extension with any Canadian team. This comes a day following a report claiming the Vancouver Canucks had made inquiries.
SPORTSNET: TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie said Canucks fans shouldn’t hold their breath expecting their club to land Karlsson. He feels Vancouver GM Jim Benning was merely kicking the tires, noting the Senators’ asking price would likely include young players Benning doesn’t want to part with. Lavoie believes Karlsson could be heading to a Western Conference club, most likely the Stars, who at one point last month was consider the front-runner.
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest Dallas Stars mailbag, Sean Shapiro noted the Stars had at one point made what was considered at the time to be the best offer for Karlsson and it didn’t involve taking on Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan’s contract. He said the Stars remain interested but at no point were they willing to part with top prospect Miro Heiskanen. There’s a sense this deal won’t get done unless Karlsson is willing to sign a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps another club will jump into the fray but it appears the Stars, Lightning and Golden Knights stand the best chance of landing Karlsson. If Benning isn’t willing to part with a couple of his best young assets we can forget about Karlsson heading to Vancouver. If he’s truly unwilling to sign with a Canadian team it makes no sense for the Canucks or any other Canadian club to pursue him.
Senators general manager Pierre Dorion will obviously call around in hopes of drumming up more interest in Karlsson and thus drive up the asking price. How many clubs will get involved remains to be seen. Dorion could find himself talking with only a handful of teams carrying the cap space and depth in young players willing to make this deal before training camp opens.
RED WINGS COULD USE ZETTERBERG’S POTENTIAL ABSENCE TO THEIR ADVANTAGE.
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance recently examined options for the Detroit Red Wings if captain Henrik Zetterberg’s ailing back sidelines him for the season. The Wings will get some some much-needed salary-cap flexibility if Zetterberg and his $6.083-million cap hit get placed on long-term injured reserve to start the season.
Should the Wings fall out of playoff contention, they could use that cap space to take back salary from contending clubs while moving players at the trade deadline. For example, if they trade pending free-agent winger Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million) they could absorb up to half of his cap hit to make him more attractive in the trade market.
Should Zetterberg’s bad back bring his playing career to an end, the Wings could look at moving his contract next summer in a cost-cutting move. His actual salary for the final two years of his contract (2019-20, 2020-21) is $1 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll likely find out Zetterberg’s status in three weeks time after he undergoes his training-camp medical. By the sound of things his playing days are likely over. Going on LTIR means they won’t have to shed salary via trade to make room for a young player like promising Filip Zadina. Picking up part of Nyquist’s cap hit would certainly improve his value in this season’s trade market.
If Zetterberg’s career is truly over, he won’t retire because of the cap-recapture penalty the Wings would incur. They could try to trade his contract this season but that won’t be easy with all clubs having already invested their available cap space. That move will likely happen next summer.