NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2018
Latest on Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Max Pacioretty and Taylor Hall in your NHL Rumor Mill.
NO CERTAINTY PANARIN, BOBROVSKY BEGIN SEASON WITH BLUE JACKETS
NHL.COM: In an interview with Tom Gulitti, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t guarantee left wing Artemi Panarin or goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will still be with the club when the regular season opens next month.
“I can’t,” Kekalainen said. “In this business, there’s always talks between the general managers whether you’ve got pending free agents or not. We talk regularly. Sometimes there’s trades. So I’m not speculating on them. I’m just saying we talk all the time, so I wouldn’t say about any player whether they’re a pending free agent or not that they’ll be on our team in October because anything can happen between now and Oct. 3.”
Panarin and Bobrovsky are both eligible to become unrestricted free agents next July. Gulitti believes it’s likely the duo “will remain unsigned beyond this season when Columbus opens training camp Sept. 14.” Kekalainen declined to say how long the club is willing to wait if there’s no progress in contract talks.
TVA SPORTS: Panarin’s agent, Dan Milstein, told The Athletic he expects his client will start this season with the Blue Jackets despite his unwillingness to talk contract when training camp opens on Sept. 14.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s possible one or both could be traded before the start of the season but I doubt that’s going to happen. The Jackets hope to become Stanley Cup contenders this season. To do that, they need their leading scorer (Panarin) and their top goaltender (Bobrovsky). If Kekalainen were to move one of them, Panarin is the more likely candidate. However, I think the Jackets GM could wait and see how this season unfolds.
PACIORETTY DENIES TRADE REQUEST
TSN: Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty told Off the Cuff with Chris Nilan on TSN 690 that he never requested a trade last February. “And I can confidently say that. Things come out in Montreal, especially in the summer. There’s going to be stories and it is what it is and we can’t control that.” Pacioretty also said he has no intention of negotiating a contract extension once the season opens next month, though he reiterated that he loves living and working in Montreal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the intent of those who told the Montreal media that Pacioretty requested a trade was to make him look bad, their efforts failed. He is now seen in more of a sympathetic light by fans and media than he was before those reports came out. Meanwhile, speculation grows over whether the Canadiens will move him before the season begins.
COULD HALL ONE DAY RETURN TO THE OILERS?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Oilers insider Bob Stauffer musing over the possibility of New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall one day returning to Edmonton. The Oilers dealt Hall to the Devils two years ago for defenseman Adam Larsson. He will become eligible for UFA status in July 2020. Staples feels Stauffer “is having some fun here with the kind of speculative talk that makes for good radio” and doesn’t put much weight behind the notion of Hall returning to the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree that we should “never say never,” but I doubt we’ll see Hall signing with the Oilers in two years time. Staples puts it best: “It’s hard to imagine that with $21 million tied up in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the next seven years that the Edmonton Oilers could afford a $9 million winger per year under the cap, let alone an $11 million per winger.”