NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2018
Latest on the Blue Jackets, Wild and Ducks in your NHL rumor mill.
BLUE JACKETS BEING PATIENT WITH PANARIN, BOBROVSKY
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites NHL insider Bob McKenzie discussing with Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 how the Columbus Blue Jackets are addressing the uncertain futures of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. Both are eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer and neither seem likely to re-sign with the club.
McKenzie believes Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen must continue to keep taking this difficult situation a day at a time “and not throw any gas on the fire.” He believes Kekalainen has “got to listen if he gets trade action on any of these guys, and I’m sure he will on Panarin.”
Given the Panarin is the Jackets’ top offensive player and Bobrovsky a two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender, McKenzie believes both are key to the Blue Jackets’ performance this season. He feels Kekalainen will let the season play out and let the chips fall where they may.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Jackets are serious playoff contenders this season they won’t trade Panarin or Bobrovsky. If they fall out of the playoff chase by February, one or both could be dealt to the highest bidder before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.
WHAT WILL THE WILD DO WITH ERIC STAAL?
THE ATHLETIC: Tony Abbott recently examined the pros and cons for the Minnesota Wild in attempting to re-sign center Eric Staal, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
On the one hand, Staal will turn 35 in the first season of his next contract. However, letting him walk next summer potentially robs the Wild of an invaluable offensive player, leader and proven first-line center. While Staal’s been impressive over the past two seasons with the Wild, his 39 points in 2015-16 with the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers suggests he might not age gracefully.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal’s been reborn with the Wild, who got him on a three-year deal for a bargain price of $3.5-million annually. While there is risk re-signing aging stars to new contracts, I think the Wild will happily invest in him for another two-or-three years, especially if he comes close to matching last season’s 42-goal performance.
The sticking point, however, will be the cap hit. Staal won’t get anything close to the $8.25-million cap hit of his previous deal but could seek something around $6 million per. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $68 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20. While all their other core players are under contract beyond next season and they can afford a raise for Staal, they might not want to spend too much on an aging asset.
TIME FOR THE DUCKS TO MAKE CHANGES?
NBC SPORTS: Nothing the Anaheim Ducks will be without Corey Perry (knee surgery) for five months, James O’Brien wonders if it’s time for them to consider making significant changes to their roster. He points out some of their veterans (Perry, Ryan Kesler) are banged up while Ryan Getzlaf is approaching the stage in his career when he should be seeing fewer minutes. Other Pacific Division teams, meanwhile, made significant offseason additions.
While they’ve got a good young blueline, a quality goalie in John Gibson and an emerging star in Rickard Rakell, this season might be a good time for a budget team whose general manager doesn’t see himself as a buyer to perhaps shed some salary via trades.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Ducks are out of playoff contention by February, I expect GM Bob Murray will trim some payroll before the trade deadline. He’s not going to break up that talented young defense corps, he re-signed Gibson and forward Adam Henrique to long-term contract extensions and Rakell is now an invaluable core player. If Jakob Silfverberg plays well in his contract year, he could also get an extension.
Trading some of those aging veterans won’t be easy. With Perry sidelined and Kesler still recovering from hip surgery they’re obviously not going anywhere for the time being. Getzlaf still has plenty of trade value but he (like Perry and Kesler) carries a full no-movement clause and could be unwilling to leave Anaheim. His $8.25-million annual cap hit through 2020-21 could also be tough to move.
Veteran forwards Patrick Eaves and Andrew Cogliano could attract some interest in the trade market if they play well this season. Both have modified no-trade clauses but could be easier to trade than Getzlaf in that regard.