NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2019
Check out the latest Oilers, Kings, and Coyotes speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT SHOULD THE OILERS DO THIS SUMMER?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples disagrees with Sportnet’s Brian Burke over how the Oilers should rebuild their roster. Burke recently suggested the Oilers should bundle young winger Jesse Puljujarvi with either Andrej Sekera or Kris Russell to free up some salary-cap space to pursue a No.2 defenseman. He also advocated finding a scoring winger and a character bottom-six forward.
Staples, however, doesn’t believe the Oilers should try to build via free agency, pointing out they have a rather spotty history of free-agent signings. He also doesn’t see Edmonton as a prime destination for this summer’s top free-agent talent.
Staples doesn’t reject the notion of moving players (except for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) if the return improves the Oilers. Still, he recommends the club should build “by properly identifying young talent, drafting it and grooming it”, pointing out they’ve already made improvement in that area. He also encourages being patient with Puljujarvi, citing his age (20), upside and current limited trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Staples’ take. There’s no easy way for the next Oilers general manager to dig his club out of the hole dug by previous management. Building with youth and exploring a savvy trade or two seems the best route at this point.
With over $71 million invested in 16 players, they should still try to shed some salary, preferably those of underachievers. Easier said than done, of course, but they should at least look into it.
If they can find a way to shed Lucic’s $6-million cap hit, even if it means absorbing part of it or packaging him with a draft pick or a prospect, it should be done. They could go the buyout route but, as Cap Friendly indicates, they won’t get much in the way of cap savings in the first four years, though it’ll drop significantly to $625K per season over the final four years.
SHOULD THE KINGS MOVE QUICK AND KOVALCHUK?
ESPN.COM: Finding a new head coach, trading goaltender Jonathan Quick, and determining Ilya Kovalchuk’s future are among Greg Wyshynski’s offseason keys for the Los Angeles Kings.
He doesn’t expect interim bench boss Willie Desjardins will return as their full-time coach. Trading Quick won’t be easy because of his age, injury history and $5.8-million cap hit, but he lacks no-trade protection and the Kings could use the younger assets he might fetch in a trade. He wonders if Kovalchuk is willing to stay or if the Kings believe he might improve under a new head coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick could be the best trade chip the Kings have this summer, or at least, the best one they’re willing to part with. I think a younger player like Tyler Toffoli would attract more interest but the Kings want to keep him as part of their rebuild. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Colorado Avalanche could be among the clubs with interest in Quick this summer.
As for Kovalchuk, he turns 36 next month and his best seasons are well behind him. If a team show interest and he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause they should trade him, even if it means picking up part of his $6.25-million cap hit.
COYOTES NOT PURSUING YAKUPOV
TSN: A report out of Russia yesterday claimed the Arizona Coyotes were one of three Western Conference clubs with interest in former NHL winger Nail Yakupov, who’s playing for KHL club St. Petersburg. However, The Athletic’s Craig Morgan cited a league source calling that rumor “completely inaccurate.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, who are the other two Western clubs supposedly interested in Yakupov? Who do you think they might be? Feel free to make your best guess in the comments section below.