NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2018
Trade speculation building around William Nylander plus the latest on Matt Duchene in your NHL rumor mill.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ early offensive onslaught without William Nylander might make the 22-year-old restricted free agent expendable. He suggests Nylander’s absence has done general manager Kyle Dubas a favor as it’s allowed him to assess the roster’s performance without the young forward.
Larkin observes the Leafs have until Dec. 1 to get Nylander re-signed or he becomes ineligible for the remainder of the season. He also suggests they’ll have a difficult time making the salary-cap dollars work with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner expected to be expensive re-signings next year. He feels it might make sense to move Nylander for a right-shot defenseman to shore up the sagging right side of their blueline.
TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos lists eight possible trade destinations for Nylander and what the Leafs could seek in return.
Arizona Coyotes: Nylander could bolster their weak offense. Defenseman Jakob Chychrun’s size and skating ability give him top-pairing potential.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun’s limited NHL experience and back-to-back knee injuries make him a risky acquisition at this point. Don’t see this one happening.
Carolina Hurricanes: Nylander could replace the departed Jeff Skinner’s offense. Blueline Justin Faulk seems the obvious return but the Leafs might focus on Brett Pesce.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This one seems plausible though the Hurricanes would probably prefer parting with Faulk. However, the Canes’ offense has been better than expected thus far. If that trend continues they won’t have to go shopping for a scoring forward.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Nylander could replace Artemi Panarin, who’s likely to depart next summer via free agency. Rearguard Zach Werenski would be most attractive to the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion. The Jackets could then use Panarin as trade bait to replace Werenski. However, I doubt the Jackets will part with the young puck-moving d-man. Forget about Seth Jones too. Maybe they would offer up David Savard, Markus Nutivaara or Ryan Murray.
Edmonton Oilers: They need a winger to skate alongside superstar Connor McDavid. It would be funny if the Oilers offered up defenseman Adam Larsson considering they traded winger Taylor Hall to get him. Darnell Nurse might be a better fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be funnier if they parted with Nurse. I don’t see the Oilers as a trade destination for Nylander. They simply cannot afford to draw upon their already thin blueline depth for trade bait.
Nashville Predators: They could use some help at forward as no one scored 30 goals last season and no one ranked in the top-50 in points. Right-shot Ryan Ellis would be a nice fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators would’ve had a forward with 30 goals and in the top 50 last season had Filip Forsberg not been sidelined 15 games. He’s a two-time 30-goal scorer. Viktor Arvidsson also tallied 30 in 2016-17. Those two and Ryan Johansen are entering their prime playing years and all could exceed their previous career bests this season. So no, the Predators won’t be trading one of their blueliners for Nylander.
New York Islanders: Nylander’s best suited as a winger but he could slot into the second-line center role. The Isles have some promising defense prospects but the ideal return for the Leafs would be blueliner Ryan Pulock.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not happening. Yes, the Isles could use some scoring depth but improving their blueline is their biggest need right now. They’re not trading Pulock and I don’t see them parting with one of their promising prospects.
New York Rangers: The rebuilding Blueshirts could use all the help they can get. They would want to unload Kevin Shattenkirk’s contract but that’s not happening. Brady Skjei would be a better choice.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander would be a good addition to the Rangers but they aren’t parting with Skjei, who is a key component of their rebuild. Besides, they’re expected to pursue Artemi Panarin via free agency next summer.
Vancouver Canucks: Pairing Nylander with promising Elias Pettersson could be like the second coming of the Sedin twins in Vancouver. Traikos wonders if the Leafs would take a chance on Olli Juolevi, or would Erik Gudbranson be a good starting point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander and Pettersson could be dynamite together, but Juolevi or Gudbranson won’t get this done.
And for those of you who feel all I do is just shoot down trade proposals, here are mine: Nylander to the Winnipeg Jets for Jacob Trouba, or Nylander to the Anaheim Ducks for Brandon Montour or Josh Manson. Discuss!
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston recently reported Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene isn’t keen about getting involved in contract discussions during the season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Johnson said Duchene told his agent “only to involve him if any potential talks reach a stage where it’s necessary to loop him in.”
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman recently said he believes Duchene will be attractive to playoff contenders near the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. He could top the list for clubs seeking a center to help them in the postseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene’s critics might dispute the notion of teams queuing up for him at the trade deadline given his limited playoff experience. Still, if he performs well over the course of this season, there will be contenders looking at him in February if he’s still unsigned by that point.