NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2018
Latest on the Islanders, Lightning and Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
NEWSDAY: The free-agent status of top-six forwards Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson are among Andrew Gross’ five things to watch for the New York Islanders this season. He believes they cannot allow those three to depart as UFAs without compensation as they did with John Tavares this summer. General manager Lou Lamoriello could face some tough decisions by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Player and team performance will determine the fates of those three. Of the trio, Nelson could be most likely to be shopped if he fails to impress as their second-line center.
Big seasons from Lee and Eberle could land them new contracts with the islanders, but that will also depend upon how much they’re seeking. Lee is earning $3.75 million annually on his current contract and could look to double that, while Eberle is earning $6 million per season and could try to stay in that neighborhood.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning have tried to move a defenseman, telling teams they’re open to trading Slater Koekkoek or Braydon Coburn. It remains to be seen if a deal will be made. For now, they’ve sent promising Erik Cernak to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Both blueliners still hold depth value for the Lightning. Of the two, Smith thinks Koekkoek could be more open to a change of scenery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Koekkoek is the most likely trade candidate, as he’s younger (24), lacks no-trade protection and carries an affordable $865K salary this season. That move might not happen right away but could take place later this season, especially if there’s a need to create more room on a crowded blueline. He could be an affordable blueline depth acquisition for a rival club as the season unfolds.
THE ATHLETIC: Jason Brough feels the Vancouver Canucks placing Sam Gagner on waivers could be a warning of more moves to come. He wonders if veterans Brandon Sutter and Alexander Edler become trade candidates later this season. He acknowledges Edler has a no-trade clause but perhaps he’d waive it if he were told in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t getting re-signed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gagner clears waivers today they could send him down to their AHL affiliate or attempt to trade him. He’s signed through 2019-20 with an annual cap hit of $3.15 million, which could make clubs leery of claiming him. Even via trade, the Canucks could be asked to absorb part of that cap hit.
Sutter will be a tough sell. Cap Friendly indicates he carries a $4.375-million cap hit through 2020-21 with a full no-trade clause this season. Edler, on the other hand, should attract plenty of interest near the trade deadline if he’s willing to waive his no-trade.