NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2018
What next for the Flyers? Are the Leafs concerned about offer sheets for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner? Will the Capitals trade Andre Burakovsky. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MORE CHANGES COMING FOR THE FLYERS?
ESPN.COM: In the wake of the Philadelphia Flyers replacing head coach Dave Hakstol yesterday with Scott Gordon on an interim basis, Greg Wyshynski offers up some suggestions to improve their fortunes. While noting Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher saying he hasn’t spoken with the Chicago Blackhawks about former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, Wyshynski believes it’s time to do so.
Among his other suggestions: trading pending free agent Wayne Simmonds for a “bounty of assets”, target St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo or bring in Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Anton Stralman, and perhaps attempt to offer sheet Lightning center Brayden Point next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher may not have spoken to the Blackhawks about Quenneville but there’s ongoing speculation that he could at some point. The question, of course, is whether Quenneville sees the Flyers as a fit. Given his long, successful coaching career, the Flyers wouldn’t be the only club interested in his services.
Simmonds could be shopped by the February trade deadline if he and Fletcher can’t reach agreement on a new contract. He might fetch a couple of draft picks (perhaps a first-rounder) and a quality prospect.
Targeting Pietrangelo is one thing, coming up with the Blues’ hefty asking price is another, assuming he’s even willing to waive his no-trade clause. An easier target could be Stralman if the Lightning decides to stick with youngster Erik Cernak this season. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait until Stralman becomes a UFA in July.
Pitching an offer sheet to Point assumes he’s willing to sign one. He could be content to stick with the Lightning, even if they have to shed some salary to make room for the hefty pay raise he’s likely to seek. Perhaps GM Julien BriseBois can weave the same magic Steve Yzerman used to use to convince Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman to accept less than market value to stay in Tampa Bay.
LEAFS UNCONCERNED ABOUT POTENTIAL OFFER SHEETS FOR MATTHEWS, MARNER
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas isn’t worried about Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner becoming possible offer-sheet targets this summer. “Our salary cap situation is set up that we could defend any of those threats with no worry at all,” Dubas said after Monday’s practice. “I spend zero percent of my time having any worry about that.”
The high compensation price of four first-round picks and the threat of future retaliation have made general managers reluctant to employ offer sheets in recent years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs currently have just over $56.275 million invested in 12 players for next season. Assuming the salary cap for 2019-20 rises to $83 million as recently projected by league commissioner Gary Bettman, the Leafs will have around $26.8 million available. That’s more than enough to match offers for either guy, assuming they haven’t used up too much of that cap space beforehand signing other players.
While it’s possible a notable player could receive an offer sheet next summer, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is skeptical. “I’ll believe it when I see it”, he told Toronto’s TSN 1050 yesterday. He said he gave up on the notion of offer sheets this past summer when Ottawa Senators winger Mark Stone didn’t receive one.
McKenzie felt the Stone situation was tailor-made for an offer sheet. “Because you could have given a one-year offer sheet on Mark Stone and the Ottawa Senators would not – if they matched it – they would not have been able to trade him this year. They would have had to let him walk to free agency,” he said. While McKenzie said it’s his understanding some teams considered that option, no one went for it.
LATEST ON BURAKOVSKY
THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan noted this weekend’s Sportsnet report claiming the Capitals were fielding calls on Andre Burakovsky, who’s seen his ice time reduced this season and was a healthy scratch from the club’s last three games. While they’re listening to offers, Khurshudyan said they’re not in a rush to move the 23-year-old winger and aren’t actively shopping him. The Capitals remain hopeful Burakovsky can pick up his play whenever he gets back in the lineup and performs well enough to earn himself a new contract. He’s slated to become a restricted free agent next summer.
There’s speculation Burakovsky could be a trade chip to bring in a defenseman in the wake of Christian Djoos absence due to thigh surgery. Khurshudyan notes the Capitals’ top-two defense pairings are set and the third one is playing well as Brooks Orpik recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. She considers it unlikely they’ll trade Burakovsky for someone who can’t play significant minutes for them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks were reportedly among the clubs interested in Burakovsky. It appears this isn’t a move the Capitals are in a hurry to make. Perhaps that will change as the season progresses. If Burakovsky’s performance improves it’ll bolster his trade value but will also be a good reason for the Capitals to retain him.
UPDATES ON THE ISLANDER AND BLUE JACKETS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello would like to be active in the trade market but can’t find a dance partner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word from Garrioch as to what Lamoriello could be seeking. It’s worth remembering he’s the most secretive of NHL GMs.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is said to be working the phones but isn’t getting much interest on center Alexander Wennberg. “That makes sense because he’s got a deal that runs through 2022-23 with a cap hit of $4.9 million.”