NHL Rumor Mill – April 12, 2019
Latest Oilers speculation and an update on Sergei Bobrovsky in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell suggested this summer might be the last one for the Oilers to maximize defenseman Adam Larsson’s trade value. Larsson has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.16 million. As an example, Mitchell suggested peddling Larsson for a scoring winger and then acquire someone like Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche, who are awash in puck-moving blueliners.
Mitchell feels Larsson and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could be trade chips because of their contract lengths, as shopping them next summer when they have a year remaining would make them rental players. The Oilers’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft could be in play. In addition to Larsson, Mitchell thinks blueliners like Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Andrej Sekera, and Kris Russell could be available depending on the ask.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Mitchell isn’t saying those players will be moved but is simply musing over which ones could become trade candidates when the new Oilers general manager takes over. Larsson, who lacks no-trade protection, could have value for clubs with plenty of scoring forward looking to bolster their defense. It might make more sense to shop him than Nugent-Hopkins, given the Oilers need for secondary scoring punch.
Mitchell’s suggestion of pursuing someone like Barrie might not be far-fetched. Barrie is a year away from UFA status and some in the Denver media feel he could be moved to make way for promising youngsters like Cale Makar in the system. That’s assuming, of course, Avs GM Joe Sakic believes Barrie to be too expensive to retain.
Nurse would certainly attract interest if the Oilers were willing to move him. However, I think Larsson would be the more likely trade candidate of the two. Still, the next Oilers GM might not be willing to move Larsson or Nurse this summer. At this stage, it’s just spitballing.
Given the depth in promising youngsters within the Oilers’ system, it would be worthwhile to see what their first rounder in this year’s draft might fetch in the trade market. Maybe it can be packaged with a player or prospect to bring in that scorer without having to part with Larsson or Nurse.
CAN BOBROVSKY’S FREE-AGENT VALUE IMPROVE?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes a strong playoff performance could improve the free-agent value of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. There’s a lot riding on this opening-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Bobrovsky, who’s never a playoff series in his NHL career.
Bobrovsky’s expected to test this summer’s free-agent market. In talking with several “front-office types” around the league, LeBrun gets the feeling the two-time Vezina Trophy winner is already guaranteed a big payday this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some general managers will balk at Bobrovsky’s lousy playoff record and inconsistent performance this season. Others, however, will gamble on him being the final piece of the playoff puzzle (hello there, Florida Panthers). He’ll get his money this summer, but backstopping the Blue Jackets to a first-round upset of the Lightning will almost certainly silence his critics.