NHL Rumor Mill – November 9, 2018
Latest on the Penguins, Kings, Hurricanes, and Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS AND KINGS
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could consider shaking up his struggling roster in hopes of improving their chemistry. He speculates Rutherford might start with a small move by shopping young winger Daniel Sprong, who is struggling to become a top-nine forward. Dreger believes there will be interest in Sprong.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton suggests Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin or Derick Brassard could become trade candidates. The three veterans aren’t playing well right now. Hornqvist carries a no-trade clause but if he’s willing to waive it, he could become an asset worth moving for the right return.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Los Angeles Kings winger Tanner Pearson “is very much out there in terms of trade speculation and has been for a while.” Pearson’s been held goalless in 14 games.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites Dreger’s appearance yesterday on Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing possible moves by the struggling Penguins. Noting the trade speculation swirling about Kings forward Tanner Pearson and defensemen Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin, he wondered if there might be a connection between the two clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Dreger isn’t saying the Penguins and Kings are discussing a trade, he’s just wondering if there’s a possible fit. Like the Penguins, the Kings are struggling to score this season.
It’s easy to propose a swap of Sprong for Pearson, as both players might benefit from a fresh start with new clubs. Sprong would address the Kings’ need to bring in younger, affordable talent. The worry for the Penguins, however, is Sprong blossoms into a scorer elsewhere while the player they acquire doesn’t improve their secondary scoring. Pearson’s difficulties this season suggest he won’t be on Rutherford’s radar.
HURRICANES SEEK A SCORER
Pierre LeBrun reports the Carolina Hurricanes are in the market for a scoring forward. He believes that’s a need they identified entering this season. Given their recent struggles following a hot start, there’s a little more pressure to address that issue. LeBrun said they’re monitoring William Nylander’s contract impasse with the Toronto Maple Leafs but they’re also looking elsewhere for help.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have been linked to Nylander for weeks. While they have the depth in defensemen to entice the Leafs and the salary-cap space (over $15 million in projected space, according to Cap Friendly), they could be unwilling to meet the rumored salary demands (over $8 million annually) of the Nylander camp.
They might also prefer finding a secondary scorer that won’t cost them one of the blueliners. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported they’re testing the market for Valentin Zykov. Perhaps they’ll package him with one of their second-round picks in the 2019 draft and target some short-term help by pursuing a pending UFA on a rebuilding club.
WHAT WILL THE OILERS DO WITH PULJUJARVI?
Dreger also reports there’s “more tension” between the Edmonton Oilers and struggling winger Jesse Puljujarvi. While he’s still in the lineup, there’s talk he could be demoted to their AHL affiliate. “If this does happen, this could, in fact, be a breaking point for a player who just wants to develop in his own way in the NHL, but at this point, it’s still a little too soon to say,” said Dreger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi is only 20 and could still blossom into a reliable NHL scorer but it remains to be seen if he’ll do that in Edmonton or elsewhere. The Oilers could be facing another Nail Yakupov situation with Puljujarvi. His current struggles could spark suggestions that they shop the youngster while he still has some value for a player who can provide immediate help.