NHL Rumor Mill – March 13, 2019

by | Mar 13, 2019 | Rumors | 16 comments

Latest on Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Ristolainen, Chris Kreider, and Mats Zuccarello in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Asked about possible offseason moves by the Sabres in a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski believes their offseason will begin by re-signing left wing Jeff Skinner, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Only then will general manager Jason Botterill know how much he’ll have to spend this summer.

Could the Buffalo Sabres shop defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Lysowski doesn’t anticipate Botterill spending much beyond Skinner, suggesting he could trade some assets, particularly prospects, for immediate roster help. He also speculated they could draw upon their blueline depth by perhaps shopping someone like Rasmus Ristolainen, whose upside and contract (signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $5.4 million) would make him attractive in the trade market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Lysowski that the Sabres will likely re-sign Skinner, who’s enjoying terrific chemistry with center Jack Eichel. As per Cap Friendly, they have over $55.3 million invested in 17 players. A new contract for Skinner could push that to $$65 million, leaving enough cap space to re-sign or replace Jason Pominville, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Evan Rodrigues, Jake McCabe, and Linus Ullmark. Of course, if they don’t re-sign Skinner, I expect Botterill will seek a replacement via trade or free agency.

The Sabres’ acquisition of Brandon Montour before the trade deadline sparked speculation that Ristolainen might be on the move. There was some chatter linking him to the Tampa Bay Lightning but nothing came of it. Years of losing could be weighing on Ristolainen, but unless he asks to be moved, I don’t think the Sabres will go that route. Their blueline depth isn’t that good beyond Ristolainen, Montour and rookie sensation Rasmus Dahlin. Moving Ristolainen without suitably replacing him would only weaken them. 


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks noted the recent decline of Rangers winger Chris Kreider. He’s bounced around the lineup, including a stint on the fourth line. Kreider managed just two assists in his last seven games, a stretch in which the Rangers won just once. Brooks wonders if that might factor into whether they’ll re-sign the winger this summer to a long-term contract extension or trade him at the NHL Draft in June. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks noted Kreider isn’t the only notable Rangers forward struggling of late (hello there, Mika Zibanejad) but his status as a UFA in July 2020 raises questions about his long-term future in New York. His name could resurface in the trade-rumor mill following the playoffs. The longer he goes through the offseason without a new contract, the more frequently he’ll be mentioned as a possible trade candidate. 


DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports Stars GM Jim Nill said he won’t begin contract extension discussions with recently acquired winger Mats Zuccarello until the end of the season. He wants to see how the team and Zuccarello perform over the remainder of the season and in the playoffs. Zuccarello is currently sidelined with a broken arm but could return before the end of the month. 


  1. I believe where there is smoke there is fire and trading Ristolainen is a trade reserved for the summer at the draft. Tampa has 4 D-men that will be UFA’s with 3 ranging from 32-34 presently so Ristolainen makes sense for them…he’s younger and signed to a reasonable contract for 3 yrs after this year. Maybe Johnson and Cernak come back in a trade. Edmonton is looking for D-men would RNH for Risto work? Johnson or RNH would give the Sabres their second line center and take pressure off Mittelstadt as he was not ready to assume second line center duty. If Duchene goes to free agency would Botterill be willing to spend the money to get him as his second line center?

    These are players that should not be in a Buffalo uniform next year Pominville, Girgensons, Larsson, Scandella and Sobotka. I’d include Okposo but that contract is hard to get rid of unless Ottawa needs salary to get to the cap floor lol Yes, Larsson and Girgensons kill penalties but a healthy Wilson makes one expendable. Maybe you sign a Filppula to a 1yr contract as your 4th line center and he makes the other expendable. It’s time the Sabres make a decision on Nylander, let him sink or swim next year or trade him this summer. If they keep him let Mittelstadt center him on the third line and if they trade him put Olofsson as the third line LW’er.

    Considering that Skinner will resign with the Sabres, they will need to address the second line LW position…mattering who goes to market go after one of Lee, Ferland, Simmonds or Dzingel or do you count on Sheary having a bounce back year. I tend to think you go outside the organization to fill the position.

    Botterill got completely hosed in the ROR trade as both Berglund and Sobotka proved to be worthless. Thompson should have been demoted to the AHL after the first month and hasn’t contributed much of anything. Still would like to know the whole ROR story because they were desperate to move him and with Pegulas money that 7.5 mil bonus shouldn’t have been a factor. With the term remaining on his contract they should have waited til the right deal came along whether it be at the trade deadline or try again this summer.

    I think with losing the contracts of Moulson, Pominville and Berglund, Botterill now has money to work with and if he can shed Sobotka and Okposo it can be a defining time for him as a GM because patience is wearing thin with the fan base.

    • Ottawa doesn’t need to take on bad contracts to get to the cap floor. They’ll make it with room to spare within their own roster and perhaps a deal at the draft and/or from the UFA heap.

    • Olfsson is great I watch him live in Rochester. Nylander is a bust, guy has zero heart or effort, unless he goes to see the wizard and he gets a heart he will playing in ECHL ROLLER hockey league soon.

    • Edmonton is looking for D-men would RNH for Risto work?

      Peter Chiarelli is no longer with the oilers. There is zero chance this happens.

    • totally agree with you

  2. I can see Ottawa taking on a toxic contract that is 1-2 years in term max. Perhaps Buff, Edm, Van get together to discuss Lucic, Okposo, Eriksson changing teams? going to be hard to move dead weight with more than 2 yrs term left unless a big chunk of salary is retained.

    • Won’t happen Fergy. They already have a couple in Gaborik ($4,875,000 to 2020-21) and MacArthur ($4,650,000 to 2019-20) plus $1,750,000 of Phaneuf’s contract to 2020-21. Granted, those are different compared to a Lucic, Okposo or Eriksson, but there’s just no Dorion nor Melnyk) would want to see any of those stiffs occupying a roster spot among all those kids.

      Besides, over the next couple of years they already have a boatload of picks to go along with a deep prospect pool, and with the fan base more or less resigned to a 2-3 year span away from contention again, finishing high in the lottery pool next season gives them a good shot at Alexis Lafrenière.

      • George I wasn’t implying any of the 3 I named would be moved to Ottawa …..perhaps someone like Andrew MacDonald from Philly, a vet d-man with 1 yr term left would fit the bill? The Sens desperately need a solid vet d-man to help the younger players. Ceci needs to move on and Boro is a 5-6-7 defenceman.

      • With the assets/draft picks they own this is the kind of trade they can make at the draft for a mid-range veteran stay-at-home D. Taking a MacDonald and his $5 mil cap hit next season off Philly’s hands, however, would be doing them more of a favour than it would be of any help to them. His best-before date has long since passed and is someone who is injured a lot, including the first big chunk of this season.

        They have enough good young prospects that one can be combined with one or two of those multiple draft picks to entice another team in the re-build stage to relinquish a mid-range veteran stay-at-home D.

      • the reason I zeroed in on MacDonald was because of reference this week in one of Lyle’s posts that there is a likelihood of the Flyers moving a D-man . No favors involved if Ottawa were to take on MacDonald , the return going the other way would be minimal + some kind of sweetener from Phil unless substantial cap was retained. I am however liking your proposal to package a young D with a pick for veteran presence.
        With Branstrom added to the organization I cannot see a future for Lajoie and he could be peddled along with a pick.

      • As an aside, I just heard over Team 1200 radio that Nick Paul, of all people, is finally demonstrating the skill he was supposed to have when they made that Spezza deal, after being placed on a line with Batherson and Logan Brown in Belleville – the hottest team in the AHL for the past month. Apparently, like Brown, he is finally using his size and speed to advantage and as one of the commentators said, if he and other two get a good shot this fall, it has to be with a coach who has patience with youngsters and doesn’t bench them following one mistake (as Boucher was wont to do much too often – Ben Harpur being a classic example – to the point where they play “nervous” and get away from their strengths. Dorion needs to get it right this time when selecting a coach. It won’t be Crawford.

      • maybe Paul is a late bloomer…. there are many players who are and were very good minor pro players but just never cut it in their NHL time. You take a guy who plays 1st or 2nd line minutes in the minors and then stick him on the 4th line @ 10 minutes a game ,with no PP and playing with less talented players, it is tough to shine. Plus as mentioned Boucher had little patience for young guys making mistakes. Hopefully Belleville makes the playoffs and has a good run.

    • as a sabres fan, what I would do is this.

      1. Offer sheet and give up four first round picks for Marner, Point or another top young star, offer over what McDavid makes making it hard for the team to match..
      2. Trade Risto for a first round pick and prospect(gives you back a pick you lost in offer sheet)
      3. Re-sign Skinner
      4. Dump every slow player on team and only replace them with guys fast enough to play for 1980s Oilers, no more sloths.
      5. Dump Okposo in AHL and make him drive the team bus and do wind sprints until he quits like Berglund.

  3. Both Kreider ideas bad. Don’t sell low and don’t buy long term. Keep him and flip at deadline if he is out of the plans

  4. The Rangers traded away 4 of their 18 main skaters and Brooks is somehow surprised it made the team worse…

    • You take a guy like Zuccarello off Zibanejad and Kreiders line, shuffle different players on and off the top line…and the production dips?

      How could that be?! Kreider is the 1st NHL player to go through a bad stretch of 7 games.

      The sky is falling!!!! Trade away Kreider and Zibanejad now while you can still get a 3rd-4th rounder for both combined!!!!! Retain 50% salary on both and throw in Kravtov and 3-1st rounders to rid them of these toxic no show players!!!!