NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2018
Reviewing NBC Sports’ listing of 10 pending UFAs who could be traded this season in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky top Adam Gretz’s list of 10 pending unrestricted free agents who could be traded this season. The pair are the Blue Jackets’ best players but it remains to be seen if they’ll stay in Columbus.
While the Jackets don’t want uncertainty about the pair’s status hanging over the club throughout this season, trading either guy could hurt their playoff hopes. Gretz doubts they’ll be traded but doesn’t rule out the possibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Jackets receive offer of comparable players, Panarin and Bobrovsky won’t be going anywhere this season as long as the club remains a postseason contender.
Ottawa Senators forwards Mark Stone and Matt Duchene are next on Gretz’s list. With the Senators in full rebuild, he believes there’s “virtually no chance” either guy remains with the team by season’s end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stone and Duchene are saying all the right things about how they’re open to signing new contracts with the Senators. However, I’m concur with Gretz’s take. I’ll be very surprised if they’re still with the Senators come the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.
New York Rangers forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are fifth and sixth on Gretz’s list. He feels the fact the Rangers didn’t try a little harder to get Hayes under a long-term contract this summer makes him “a pretty big trade candidate”.
Zuccarello, on the other hand, could still be a fit in the Rangers’ rebuild, as theirs isn’t a complete tear-down like the Senators. He also enjoys playing in New York.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayes’ one-year deal could be seen as a “show-me” contract, but I agree with Gretz that what you see with the big center is what you get. The 26-year-old is a reliable 40-plus point producer but there’s little indication he’s going to be better than that.
Zuccarello, 31, is older but has four 50-plus point campaigns under his belt. Perhaps he still has a future with the Rangers, but he could get dealt if they get a decent offer near the trade deadline.
Gretz considers New York Islanders center Brock Nelson the more likely of their noteworthy UFAs (Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle being the others) to get moved this season. He’s in a nearly identical situation as Hayes with the Rangers. Like Hayes, Gretz feels the Isles would’ve made a more serious effort to get Nelson under a longer-term contract this summer if they felt he had a future with them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nelson’s situation will be interesting to watch this summer as the Isles attempt to retool in their first post-John Tavares season. I agree that he’s the more likely to be moved compared to Lee and Eberle.
Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist is eighth on Gretz’s list. With the Wings still rebuilding, it doesn’t make much sense to re-sign Nyquist given where the team is going to be in the short term and their salary-cap situation. He could become a decent rental player for a postseason contender seeking scoring depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Wings have over $61 million invested in 15 players for 2019-20, with Nyquist, Thomas Vanek and Niklas Kronwall likely to be replaced. Kronwall will likely retire while Nyquist and Vanek probably don’t fit into the Wings’ long-term plans.
There’s also talk goalie Jimmy Howard could get a two-year extension. After years of bumping up against the cap ceiling, the Wings are likely to invest more in younger, affordable talent going forward.
Ninth on Gretz’s list is Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler, who could be helpful to a playoff contender this season. He still holds a full no-trade clause, which could complicate any potential efforts to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edler hasn’t ruled out re-signing with the Canucks but that’ll depend upon whether management believes he has a place in their future plans. A trade later this season remains possible.
Rounding out the list is forward Jeff Skinner, acquired this summer by the Buffalo Sabres. While Skinner is a skilled forward who could still be part of the Sabres’ future, a trade could be possible if he can’t be re-signed and the club struggles this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner seemed overjoyed to be traded to Buffalo. If he meshes well with first-line center Jack Eichel this season, I think the Sabres will open the vault to keep him.