NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2018
With the NHL holiday trade freeze commencing at 11:59 pm ET tonight, here’s the latest on Jeff Carter, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Patrik Berglund plus some Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CARTER HOPES TO REMAIN A KING
THE ATHLETIC: With the Los Angeles Kings floundering in the standings, center Jeff Carter has surfaced in recent trade speculation. However, Lisa Dillman reports Carter wants to stay put.
Carter lacks no-trade protection and has three years remaining on his contract with an annual $5.272-million cap hit, though in actual dollars he’ll earn a total of $7 million over those final three seasons. He missed most of last season with a cut ankle tendon and has just one goal in his last nine games and one even-strength goal since Oct. 11.
Dillman notes Carter and his family are “solidly entrenched in Southern California.” Still, if the Kings want to rebuild and if there’s interest in the veteran center, they would have to find a way to make it attractive for Carter to accept a move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings can send Carter anywhere they want without his permission. But if they do that, there’s speculation suggesting he could decide to retire. That would leave the Kings facing a $2.75-million annual salary-cap recapture penalty over the remaining term of his contract. He never hinted at that during his interview with Dillman but it’s clear he’s not warm to the idea of a trade.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During an interview Monday with Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, Elliotte Friedman talked about the recent trade speculation surrounding St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Citing Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit over the next four years, Friedman suggests that’s now a good contract for a player who can score as he can.
Friedman also cited a former Blue saying Tarasenko is a great player on the ice but he’s not a leader, which some people on the team use to deflect away from their own issues. Friedman said he could see a club in need of scoring, such as the Carolina Hurricanes, pursuing the winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko would help a team struggling to score, though it appears he’s not suited for a leadership role. However, moving players with hefty contracts like him usually doesn’t happen during the season.
The Blues will want a substantial return, probably comparable to what the Toronto Maple Leafs got from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade three years ago. They won’t just give him away.
Tarasenko’s no-trade clause kicks in next July. If the Blues trade him, they’ll likely do it in late-June, when teams have more cap space and a willingness to swing deals for expensive talent.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently examined some possible options for the Edmonton Oilers to replace sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom. He notes there’s plenty of internet proposals suggesting a deal involving St. Louis Blues rearguard Colton Parayko. Most involve swapping Darnell Nurse for Parayko but that won’t address the Oilers’ blueline needs. “A deal for Parayko could be made with a young forward (Jesse Puljujarvi?) and a pick (first rounder in 2019?) that might satisfy the Edmonton side, but there’s no evidence the Blues are entering a rebuild phase,” said Mitchell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mitchell advocates exploring all options, including a trade, but didn’t propose any trade targets. I agree with his take on a Parayko swap.
The Carolina Hurricanes are loaded with defensemen but they need a proven scoring forward. The Oilers don’t have much depth to offer up in that regard. Feel free to weigh in with your suggestions in the comments section, Oilers fans.
WILL THE SABRES MOVE BERGLUND?
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington took note of forward Patrik Berglund’s ongoing suspension by the Buffalo Sabres over his refusal to report. Berglund saw reduced playing time as the season progressed and was a healthy scratch at times for his poor play. Neither the Sabres or Berglund’s agent have shed any light on his situation.
If it’s a case of Berglund being unhappy with the Sabres, Harrington suggests Sabres GM Jason Botterill should attempt to trade him. However, he acknowledged Berglund’s contract ($3.85-million annual cap hit through 2021-22) and poor play probably has his trade value close to nil. “Skipping out on a winning team might force the Sabres to keep some of his money to get rid of him,” writes Harrington.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could become a difficult situation to sort out. Harrington also suggests the Sabre could attempt to void Berglund’s contract but notes the NHLPA is watching this closely and could step in on his behalf if needed. If they can’t trade him or void his contract, they could attempt to buy him out in June.