NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2019
Check out some possible offseason moves by the Ducks and why other clubs might not emulate the Blue Jackets recent trade-deadline moves in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE DUCKS?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters recently weighed in on what the future might hold for the Anaheim Ducks. Bringing in a new full-time head coach will likely be atop GM Bob Murray’s agenda, with farm-team bench boss and former Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins the likely candidate.
Making room for youngsters such as Sam Steel, Max Jones, Daniel Sprong, and Max Comtois could also be an important factor. Determining the future of banged-up veteran center Ryan Kesler and his $6.875 million salary-cap hit through 2022 could also be on the agenda.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eakins has done a very good job with the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego and is considered the favorite to take over as their new head coach next season. Granted, he had his difficulties during his tenure in Edmonton but appears to have learned from the experience. He’ll also have more to work with in Anaheim than he did with the Oilers.
Murray is giving his youngsters more playing time down the stretch to evaluate their potential for next season. I expect we’ll see a lot more of them next season. There was some trade speculation swirling around forward Adam Henrique leading up to the deadline but he signed a five-year contract extension last summer so I’m not sure Murray is keen to move him. If Murray is willing to listen to offers he’ll have a limited window to do so, as that contract also comes with a 10-team no-trade list that begins on July 1.
As for Kesler, his nagging hip injuries could spell the end of his playing career. He could end up on long-term injury reserve to start the season, providing the Ducks with some cap relief if necessary.
BLUE JACKETS SEEING LITTLE RESULT FROM DEADLINE MOVES
THE HOCKEY NEWS: A month following the 2019 NHL trade deadline, Jared Clinton observed the Columbus Blue Jackets are still struggling to secure a playoff berth despite their bold moves leading up to the deadline. With left winger Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky expected to depart this summer via free agency, Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen decided to go all-in on a playoff run by acquiring forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from the Ottawa Senators and defenseman Adam McQuaid from the New York Rangers.
If successful, Kekalainen’s strategy could be used as a blueprint for other teams in the future whereby teams keep their pending UFAs and attempt to build up around them at the deadline. But if the Jackets miss the playoffs or get bounced from the opening round, Clinton believes we can kiss that template goodbye.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor but Kekalainen’s moves could have potential ramifications upon future NHL trade deadlines. As Clinton suggests, it could turn the trade deadline into a bigger free-for-all than ever before, as GMs on playoff contenders with notable UFAs decide to gamble rather than play it safe. But if Kekalainen’s gambit fails, his peers will likely remain cautious near the deadline.
So far, it’s not looking good. The Jackets barely cling to the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Should they squeak in, their first-round opponent would be the powerful Tampa Bay Lightning, who swept their season series with three lopsided victories of 8-2, 4-0 and 5-1. While upsets can happen I don’t believe the Jackets can defeat the Bolts in a playoff series.
Kekalainen gave up a lot to make those trades. If the Jackets fail to reach the playoffs or make another first-round exit and Duchene, Dzingel and McQuaid join Panarin and Bobrovsky in departing via free agency it will serve as an example of why it’s a mistake to gamble too much of your future on short-term deals.