NHL Rumor Mill – February 16, 2019
The Oilers are reportedly open to trading Jesse Puljujarvi, updates on Mark Stone and Wayne Simmonds, plus the latest on the Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE OILERS MOVE PULJUJARVI?
TSN: Ryan Rishaug yesterday reported the Edmonton Oilers are open to trading winger Jesse Puljujarvi, provided the right return can be found. It would have to be quite high, as Puljujarvi was the fourth-overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft. Rishaug also said the club is considering sending the 20-year-old back to the minors to bolster his confidence.
The day earlier, Rishaug’s colleague Darren Dreger speculated Puljujarvi won’t be moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline as the asking price is too high. While Dreger doesn’t know what that is, he thinks it starts with either a first-round pick or a top prospect plus something else.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Puljujarvi’s agent Markus Lehto believes his client would benefit from a change of scenery. He suggests his client has doubts over what the Oilers think of him and his role with the club. “It’s like when the player isn’t trusting anymore. ‘Do these guys really want me here? Do they really trust me to be a top-six guy? A top-nine guy? An offensive player?’ The player is uncertain.”
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson warns against trading Puljujarvi, suggesting the move could blow up in the Oilers’ faces. As an example, he points to center Dylan Strome’s improvement with the Chicago Blackhawks after struggling with the Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers already ruined a top draft pick in Nail Yakupov and seem to be doing the same to Puljujarvi. He’s a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract so the Oilers aren’t under pressure to move him before the upcoming trade deadline. Still, they’re in a bind here over what to do with the struggling but still-promising youngster.
It might be best to retain Puljujarvi and see if he improves under new management and coaching, as changes are coming in the Oilers’ front office and behind the bench this summer. Then again, it was the revolving door of coaches that contributed to Yakupov’s decline following his promising rookie campaign. If the Oilers maintain a high asking price for Puljujarvi, he’s probably not going anywhere before the deadline.
JETS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS INTERESTED IN STONE?
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing yesterday on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590, Elliotte Friedman suggested the Winnipeg Jets are the top contender for Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone. The Jets have a lot of prospects that could interest the Senators, including Jack Roslovic and Sami Niku. Friedman isn’t sure how willing the Jets are to give up those guys, but he noted Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and his assistants recently scouted the Jets and their AHL affiliate.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Chris Stevenson believes the Senators and Jets are perfect trade partners. One director of player personnel Stevenson spoke to regarding a Stone-to-Winnipeg scenario suggested the Senators should push for Roslovic or winger Nikolaj Ehlers as part of the return. He also noted Stone is from Winnipeg and perhaps would be willing to re-sign with the Jets after this season.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Vegas Golden Knights have also shown considerable interest in Stone.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch didn’t say what the Golden Knights would be willing to offer up for Stone. It’s believed the Senators seek a player, a first-round pick and a prospect for Stone or Matt Duchene. The Jets are apparently willing to part with their 2019 first-round pick and have depth in prospects, though GM Kevin Cheveldayoff reportedly doesn’t want to mortgage the future on a rental player.
Of course, if Cheveldayoff can convince Stone to re-sign, that would be a different story. That would mean, however, moving out a salaried player to clear sufficient salary-cap room. That explains the mention of Ehlers, who’s carrying an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million through 2024-25 and lacks no-trade protection. That’s assuming the Senators want to take on that cap hit.
STARS SHOPPING FOR OFFENSE
NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill hopes to add some scoring before the trade deadline. He said he’s open to almost anything, though his plans could change if his club loses its grip on a playoff spot. “We’re very open to making a hockey trade if it’s going to make us better. If we stay in the hunt the way we are, we’re open to adding to our team.”
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing yesterday on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590, Elliotte Friedman included the Stars among the clubs that could pursue Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin, especially if they free up some cap space by placing some injured players on long-term injured reserve.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien suggests Nill shouldn’t make any panic trades. They’ll have over $13 million coming off their books this summer (Jason Spezza, Marc Methot, and the salary retention of departed goaltender Antti Niemi) and Martin Hanzal’s $4.5 million will be gone in 2020. He cautions against short-term gains when they could have more money this summer to pursue potentially available talent like Panarin or Ottawa’s Matt Duchene or Mark Stone.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill has to boost his scoring before the deadline. The Stars are among the league’s lowest-scoring teams and hold the first wild-card spot (63 points) in the Western Conference. Even if they reach the playoffs, their pop-gun offense likely makes them a first-round-and-out club.
Going after Panarin will also mean parting with a good young forward along with a first-round pick and perhaps a top prospect. More affordable options include the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist or maybe Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds.
UPDATE ON SIMMONDS
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports it appears winger Wayne Simmonds remains likely to be moved by the Philadelphia Flyers before the trade deadline. It’s believed GM Chuck Fletcher hasn’t made a contract extension offer to Simmonds, though he could circle back with a last-minute pitch if the trade offers he’s received aren’t to his liking.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, and Boston Bruins are said to be interested. Seravalli believes Simmonds would be a good fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs, though Leafs GM Kyle Dubas apparently isn’t keen on rental players.