NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2018
Latest Erik Karlsson speculation plus a look at possible Islanders trade candidates in your NHL rumor mill.
UPDATED KARLSSON SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson denied a story claiming he was unwilling to sign a long-term contract with a Canadian team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
OTTAWA SUN: Wonders if Karlsson’s comment means the Vancouver Canucks might be a trade destination for the superstar blueliner. Earlier this week, a report indicated the Canucks had looked into inquiring Karlsson but general manager Jim Benning denied it. Maybe it’s a sign Karlsson still believes he can re-sign with the Senators.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton rounds up the week’s Karlsson speculation, including rumors he could be dealt to a Western Conference team. The Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks are considered the most likely western destinations, with the Golden Knights and Stars possessing the salary-cap room and depth in promising assets to make a deal happen. Clinton doesn’t rule out the Tampa Bay Lightning as a suitor, though they’ll have to shed considerable cap space to take on Karlsson’s current $6.5-million cap hit for 2018-19.
Clinton also noted Benning’s denials regarding his club’s rumored interest in Karlsson, as well as the defenseman denying a report claiming he wouldn’t sign with a Canadian team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson’s apparent willingness to sign with a Canadian team opens up the possibility of inking a contract extension with the Senators or another Canadian club like the Canucks, though both scenarios seem unlikely at this point. Karlsson rejected an eight-year contract offer from the Senators in early-July. The Canucks appear unwilling to part with any of their good young players.
I believe the Golden Knights, Stars and Lightning remain the front-runners for Karlsson in the trade market. While I don’t doubt the Sharks’ interest in the Senators captain I don’t believe they have the depth in available assets and sufficient cap space to pry him out of Ottawa.
LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at several “interesting, prime-age” players whose futures with the New York Islanders remain unclear entering the coming season. Among them is winger Jordan Eberle, who might not want to be stuck on another rebuilding team. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and currently carries a $6-million cap hit.
Winger Anders Lee, center Brock Nelson and goaltender Robin Lehner are also due to become UFAs next summer. Lee has to demonstrate he can still be a prolific sniper without John Tavares, while Nelson and Lehner are on one-year “prove it” contracts.
O’Brien believes the Islanders will evaluate the performance of the team and where those players fit. He feels many of the aforementioned “could command some really nice trade assets”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Isles are well out of playoff contention when the calendar flips to January, general manager Lou Lamoriello will likely start quietly shopping some of those pending UFAs. Of course, it depends upon their performances. Any who play well and are willing to re-sign will likely be retained. Those who struggle or wish to test the free-agent market could be on the move by the February trade deadline. Lee and Eberle could have the most value as rental players for playoff contenders.