NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2018
Latest on the Oilers, Blue Jackets, Penguins, and Jeff Skinner in your NHL rumor mill.
CHANGES COMING FOR THE OILERS?
TSN: Darren Dreger reports there have probably been a few more senior management meetings for the Edmonton Oilers as their current slump continues. Going into last weekend the feeling was they would stay the course but back-to-back losses have made things white hot in Edmonton. Dreger said it’s not as simple as changing the coach, pointing to their inconsistent goaltending and sketchy transition play.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Insider Elliotte Friedman appeared on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing the Oilers’ current woes. He feels everyone in the organization is on pins and needles right now.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also wonders how much longer can the Oilers go on like this. He believes asset management is the biggest issue, pointing to the poor returns general manager Peter Chiarelli has received in his recent trades, specifically the deals that saw the departures of Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz, and Jordan Eberle.
“That points to an even bigger problem at the top — above even the head coach and general manager — because that has been the one constant in the organization. It also paints a disturbing picture for Oilers fans because it should be obvious that the current organizational structure is not working and that changes probably need to be made. But what faith do you have that the people in charge are going to make the right changes?”
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes it’s time for a coaching change as the Oilers seem to have tuned out Todd McLellan. He suggests they look into hiring former Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis considers Zach Kassian, Drake Caggiula, Matt Benning, and Al Montoya as plausible trade candidates. Depending on where the Oilers are in the standings near the Feb. 25, 2018 trade deadline, Cam Talbot or Mikko Koskinen could be available.
Willis also touched on struggling young winger Jesse Puljujarvi. “If we were to make a list of trade warning lights, “player who might not be happy with his handling” and “player who might be valued more by other teams than his own” would be near the top of the list and Puljujarvi is a good candidate for both descriptions.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no trade coming at this point in the season to save the Oilers. They’re top-heavy up front, they still have defensive issues and their goaltenders are struggling of late. Last week’s swap of Ryan Strome to the New York Rangers for Ryan Spooner did nothing to improve the situation. If things don’t soon improve, big changes could be coming behind the bench and in the front office.
**UPDATE** Soon after this was published, the Oilers announced McLellan was relieved of his duties and replaced by Ken Hitchcock. You can read my take on this here.
UPDATES ON BOBROVSKY AND PANARIN
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports on the status of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin, who are both slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. There’s been little change in Bobrovsky’s status but Panarin’s agent is set to meet with him following the holiday break to discuss their contract situation.
With Panarin apparently happy and scoring and the Blue Jackets in first place in the Metropolitan Division, GM Jarmo Kekalainen could keep trying to show that Columbus is a good place to be. LeBrun thinks the Jackets will make a contract offer to Panarin before the trade deadline and see if they can convince him to stay.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s all the Jackets can do at this point. Even if Panarin and Bobrovsky won’t commit to a new deal by the trade deadline, I think Kekalainen will retain them if they’re still in the thick of the playoff chase. Of course, he could listen to trade offers but it could take a substantial pitch to pry either guy out of Columbus.
MORE TRADE RUMBLINGS OUT OF PITTSBURGH
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is “very much open for business.” He’s already made one trade shipping Carl Hagelin last week to the LA Kings for Tanner Pearson. McKenzie believes it’s safe to say that the only untouchables are Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. “So open for business, but those big deals are hard to make. But, open for business nonetheless.”
TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden believes there’s no quick fix for the Penguins’ current problems, which includes poor play from starting goalie Matt Murray, a decline in their speed affecting their system, and a lack of energy and production from their bottom-six forwards. While Rutherford is working the phones, Madden cautions against attempting to over-fix the problems and risk putting the club into a deeper hole beyond this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because Crosby and Malkin are the only untouchables doesn’t necessarily mean stars like Phil Kessel and Kris Letang are hitting the trade block. Could Rutherford listen to offers for those two? Sure, but moving them isn’t likely to fetch a return that provides immediate help.
More likely options are players such as Daniel Sprong, Olli Maatta, Bryan Rust, and Riley Sheahan, who’ve frequently surfaced in recent trade speculation. Unless Rutherford is planning on blowing things up already, I think he’s looking more for tweaks than an overhaul.
Skinner looking for 8 years @ 9-9.5 million to keep him from going to the market.
— Jeremy White (@JeremyWGR) November 19, 2018