Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 31, 2019
Check out the latest on the Canucks and Oilers in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANUCKS?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe the Vancouver Canucks must invest in secondary scoring and bolster the right side of their blueline this summer. There’s talk they could trade for a young right-handed defenseman but it remains to be seen who they’ll pursue and how much it’ll cost.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks’ defense is indeed quite thin on the right side, which is currently filled by Alex Biega, Troy Stecher and Luke Schenn. A skilled young top-four rearguard is desperately needed there but finding one won’t be easy via trade or free agency.
Ottawa Senators defenseman Cody Ceci was a frequent fixture in the rumor mill leading up to the trade deadline but the questions about his play that sparked those rumors won’t help the Canucks. Salary-cap constraints could force the Winnipeg Jets to trade Jacob Trouba or let Tyler Myers depart via free agency but there’s no certainty either guy will want to go to a rebuilding club. Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen has also popped up in recent media trade chatter but it could cost the Canucks one of their good young forwards to get him.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Harman Dayal examines the performance of Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton, who’s coming off a two-year, $5.6-million contract and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Dayal notes Hutton’s agent could seek a new deal worth in the range of $4 million per season because he’s been deployed as a top-pairing rearguard. Despite the positive buzz over Hutton’s play this season, Dayal concludes he’s actually struggling as a top-four defenseman and recommends the Canucks try to move Hutton while his trade value is high.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The question is, does Canucks general manager Jim Benning also believe Hutton lacks the stuff to become a reliable top-four defenseman? If it appears the Hutton camp will seek more than the Canucks are willing to pay this summer, perhaps that’ll prompt Benning to shop him.
VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnston wonders if Thatcher Demko is the Canucks goalie of the future or if he’ll better serve the club as a trade chip. Given Jacob Markstrom‘s emergence as a reliable starting goalie this season and with promising Mike DiPietro waiting in the wings, Demko could fetch a solid return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks don’t have to rush into a decision regarding their goaltending this summer. Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, Demko will be an affordable re-signing coming out of his entry-level contract and DiPietro could use at least one season in the minors.
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like there’s some discussion between the Canucks and defenseman Luke Schenn regarding a one-year contract extension. Schenn has played well for the Canucks since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in mid-January.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schenn is on a one-year, $800K contract so he won’t be expensive to retain.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allen Mitchell recently examined some affordable options for the Edmonton Oilers to bolster their roster this summer. His proposed goalie targets are Carolina’s Petr Mrazek, Ottawa’s Anders Nilsson or Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott. San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist, Carolina’s Micheal Ferland, Vegas’ Brandon Pirri and the Islanders (and former Oiler) Jordan Eberle are among his suggested forward choices.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71.7 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20, the Oilers won’t have much room if the cap is set for $83 million as projected. Unless they can shed salary they’ll have little choice but to pursue affordable depth via trades or free agency.
Elliott is more consistent than Mrazek and Nilsson but his age (33) and injury history are a concern. Not sure how keen Eberle would be to return to Edmonton. Ferland is a solid physical presence but his spate of injuries this season sends up warning flags plus he reportedly seeks Tom Wilson money. Nyquist will likely cost over $5 million annually to sign plus he could prefer signing with a contender. Ultimately, the Oilers could be going into the bargain bin for guys like Pirri this summer.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Oilers should resist trading or buying out defenseman Andrej Sekera. He points out Sekera’s improvement since returning to action from injury this season and also notes the Oilers need his puck-moving skills. Sekera also has two years left on his deal with a $5.5 million AAV, a modified no-trade clause starting July 1, and has suffered two serious injuries in as many seasons, which would hamper the Oilers efforts to trade him and would also hurt his value in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Staples. Moving Sekera would free up invaluable cap room but their defense is better when he’s healthy and in the lineup. Giving the hindrance of his contract and injury history, the Oilers probably won’t find many takers in the trade market.