NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2019
Latest on Connor McDavid and Joe Pavelski plus an update on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.
DON’T EXPECT MCDAVID TO REQUEST A TRADE
TSN: Asked if Connor McDavid might request a trade if the Edmonton Oilers miss the playoffs, Pierre LeBrun said he doesn’t expect that to happen. McDavid is fully invested in reversing the fortunes of the club, which will be hiring a new general manager and head coach this summer. “But I will say this and this is just my own opinion. If this is still the way things are in Edmonton in three years, who knows,” said LeBrun. He pointed out McDavid is on a long-term contract and it would be silly at this point to believe he wants out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the Oilers struggled through this season, a few pundits were wondering how much longer McDavid will put up with playing for a franchise mired in mediocrity. I’m guessing that’s what was behind that question. If anyone gets traded by the Oilers this summer, it could be someone like defenseman Matt Benning, who was the subject of rumors leading up to last month’s NHL trade deadline.
I believe McDavid is determined to help the Oilers turn things around, but I’m with LeBrun in wondering if he might change his mind in three or four years time if this club hasn’t significantly improved by then.
PAVELSKI FACING UNCERTAIN FUTURE IN SAN JOSE?
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski is enjoying a resurgent performance this season, on pace to reach 40 goals this season. However, Kevin Kurz suggests the 34-year-old center’s future with the Sharks is hazy.
Pavelski is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Kurz feels the Sharks will likely wait and see if they can re-sign defenseman Erik Karlsson before deciding what, if anything, they’ll offer Pavelski, whose preference is to stay in San Jose.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $57.5 million invested in 14 players for 2019-20. Assuming the salary cap reaches the projected $83 million, they’ll have over $25 million in cap room. Karlsson, however, will likely cost over $11 million annually to re-sign, which will take a big bite out of that cap room. Like Pavelski and Karlsson, Joe Thornton, Gustav Nyquist, and Joonas Donskoi are unrestricted free agents. Restricted free agents like Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc will be seeking substantial raises.
Karlsson’s been sidelined by injury since late-February and missed a month from mid-January to mid-February. The Sharks, meanwhile, played well in his absence. If management decides to part ways with Karlsson, there will be more than enough money to re-sign Pavelski and their other noteworthy free agents.
LATEST ON THE COYOTES
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked if the Arizona Coyotes might consider shopping goaltender Darcy Kuemper this summer while his value is high. Morgan believes they’ll listen to offers but the health of starting goalie Antti Raanta could give them pause. He doesn’t think they’re at the point where Adin Hill is ready to be a reliable NHL backup or that Raanta will be healthy enough to trade Kuemper.
Morgan doesn’t expect the Coyotes to re-sign pending UFAs Calvin Pickard and Richard Panik. He thinks they’ll re-sign all their restricted free agents but doesn’t know if they’ll be active in this summer’s UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuemper’s performance this season is among the biggest factors behind the Coyotes’ second-half surge into a Western Conference wild-card spot. The 28-year-old has been stellar, sporting a record of 25-16-5 with a 2.48 goals-against average. a .921 save percentage and three shutouts. He’d undoubtedly attract some interest this summer but I concur with Morgan that Raanta’s injury history could make them reluctant to move their backup.