NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2019

by | Apr 23, 2019 | Rumors | 26 comments

Changes could be coming for the Winnipeg Jets this summer plus the latest on Robin Lehner and Mats Zuccarello in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

SUMMER OF CHANGE FOR THE JETS?

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports the Jets head into the offseason amidst speculation of a fractured dressing room. He notes coach Paul Maurice claiming there were a few “ruffled feathers” that must be “flattened out” while general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff seemed to hint changes could be coming to the club’s leadership group, which includes captain Blake Wheeler and assistants Mark Scheifele and Dustin Byfuglien. He suggests young blueliner Josh Morrissey be named an assistant captain.

Has Jacob Trouba played his final game with the Winnipeg Jets? (Photo via NHL Images)

McIntyre also noted the Jets’ players-only, closed-door meeting late in the season as an indicator things weren’t well in the dressing room. He doesn’t believe Maurice will be replaced as head coach but the club’s defensive struggles could result in a shakeup of his assistants. 

Trade-deadline acquisition Kevin Hayes was a disappointment and McIntyre doesn’t expect the unrestricted free agent to be re-signed. He also speculates pending UFAs Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot, and Brandon Tanev could price themselves out of Winnipeg.

Patrick Laine, Kyle Connor, and Jacob Trouba are their notable restricted free agents. Laine and Connor are expected to receive hefty raises while Trouba’s contentious contract negotiation history casts uncertainty over his long-term future in Winnipeg. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe notes Trouba’s evasiveness to discuss his contract situation will generate speculation he’s played his final game for the Jets. Trouba has arbitration rights and is a year away from UFA status.

“Same answer as always. I’ll figure it out once things get going in the summer, what’s best and move forward from there,” said Trouba. “We’ve got to sit down and kind of have a meeting and figure out what to do moving forward, so I haven’t really thought about it. I tried to put it in the back of my mind as much as I could this year and just forget about it and we’ll deal with it when the time comes.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton observes the Jets could have around $26 million in salary-cap space should the cap reach $83 million for 2019-20. He suggests an “incredibly conservative estimate” would see Laine and Connor take up half of that.

Trouba’s performance this season is in line for a raise to between $6-$7 million per season, which isn’t likely to fit into their cap structure. If they trade Trouba, it could leave sufficient space to re-sign Myers if he’s willing to accept less than $6 million annually. Mathieu Perreault and Dmitry Kulikov may have played their final games with the Jets. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently noted the Jets could be forced to shop Trouba this summer. He expects the 25-year-old defenseman could command $7 million per season and believes the New York Rangers could be among the clubs willing to pay him that much. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler, Schiefele, and Byfuglien aren’t going anywhere but there could be a shakeup among their leadership group to smooth out those ruffled feathers Maurice referred to. Scheifele or Byfuglien could be stripped of their assistant captain duties. Byfuglien, who has the shortest tenure (two years) remaining on his contract, is a likely candidate. 

The Jets have over $55.6 million invested in 12 players. I’m assuming the Jets will re-sign Laine and Connor re-signed for a combined $15 million, pushing their cap payroll to over $70 million. If they also re-sign Trouba to $7 million annually, that climbs to over $77 million, leaving considerably less room to fill out the remainder of the lineup. Even if they part ways with Trouba and re-sign Myers for under $6 million per season, they’ll still have to shed some salary. 

Trouba’s history of difficult contract discussions with Jets management will ensure his name remains in the rumor mill. He could become an invaluable trade chip that can bring back some affordable young assets.

If they re-sign Trouba, they’ll have to ship out a contract or two to free up sufficient cap space for other signings or additions. Perreault ($4.125 million annually through 2020-21) and Kulikov ($4.33 million for 2019-20) could become trade candidates but they also carry modified no-trade clauses and their respective injury histories could affect their trade value.

Winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be another option. He’s in the first year of a seven-year, $42-million contract ($6 million AAV), lacks no-trade protection for 2019-20, and has received some criticism for his poor playoff numbers. While some clubs could balk at his cap hit, his youth (23), speed and offensive abilities could draw interest in the trade market. 

UPDATES ON LEHNER AND ZUCCARELLO

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks notes there’s been little speculation over goaltender Robin Lehner’s future with the New York Islanders compared to fellow Isles UFAs Anders Lee (expected to stay), Jordan Eberle (expected to depart) and Brock Nelson (expected to stay but could have potential open-market prominence thanks to a strong playoff performance). There was early-season speculation linking the Islanders to Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky but Lehner’s Vezina Trophy finalist status squashes that notion. Lehner’s incredible turnaround this season will cause his price to skyrocket over his current one-year, $1.5-million contract.

With around $35 million in projected cap space for 2019-20, the Isles can afford to keep him. Even if Lehner were to test the market, the limited number of suitors (Florida? Ottawa?) could ensure he stays put. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Provided the Lehner camp doesn’t get crazy and try to make their client the NHL’s highest-paid goalie, I believe he and the Islanders will reach an agreement on a multi-year deal. It’ll be interesting to see what their asking price will be. It could reach between $6-$7 million annually. A potential lack of suitable free-agent destinations could also affect what he gets. 

Mats Zuccarello’s immediate positive effect upon the Dallas Stars could lead to them re-signing the 31-year-old pending UFA winger. The Stars acquired Zuccarello from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline. If they re-sign him, they’ll have to cede their 2020 first-round pick to the Rangers. Brooks thinks Zuccarello could seek a no-movement clause to ensure he’s protected in the 2021 NHL expansion draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zuccarello, who turns 32 in September, could get a three- or four-year deal from the Stars for around the same annual cap hit ($4.5 million) as his current contract. 







26 Comments

  1. 2 years in a row, they bring in a good center and they pay dearly for them and it has backfired. Perhaps its too little time for guys to gel?

    Perhaps its a coaching change that needs to happen? They’ve got alot of young horses and they are hitting their peak. Time for a fresh voice with fresh ideas

    • Kevin Hayes was getting 3rd line minutes. Curious what his contract demands will be now.

      Does the Jets 1st round pick stay @ 22 or drop with their early exit? I get confused about the draft order-it still shows Colorado picking 16th

  2. Ghost and Prospect Wade Allison & a draft pick to the Jets with Trouba coming back to the Flyers

    • If they do decide to peddle Trouba, Cheveldayoff will get a LOT better than a one-dimensional 5′ 11 180 lb -20 D and a college RW taken in the 2nd round 3 years ago who hasn’t proven squat at the pro level.

      • That’s more than Ottawa received for Erik Karlson.

      • Well, that’s all in the eye of the beholder. You said “a pick” which could be anywhere from the first to the seventh round.

        For Karlsson Ottawa got C Chris Tierney, D Dylan DeMelo, prospect Josh Norris, ranked well up in the Top 100 by the Hockey News consensus poll and prospect Rudolfs Balcers who did very well in the AHL and named by some, such as Bob MacKenzie, as possible the steal of the trade, along with a 2020 1st round and a 2nd round pick in 2019.

        If you think Ghostisbehere, a 2nd round college pick and a “draft pick” are better than that, well c’est la vie.

    • Why would Trouba have any interest in Philly? He has some teams in mind, And Philly isn’t one of them.

      • I think Detroit is the likely destination if the return is right.

  3. I thought Trouba’s arbitration last year was one year 7m . He will go through the same process this year but he has more points due to Byfuglien injury and more pp time so he may get 8m . Long term I wonder the number or team for that matter that will make him happy.

  4. I don’t think a dman should get $7m or more if he’s not a Norris candidate.

    I’d pass on Trouba if he’s asking that much.

    I think the Jets needed someone like Zuccarello, not Hayes. I know they were looking for a center, but character is key.

    I think the Leafs will take a good look at Trouba.

    • And give up what in return? Or are you saying when he becomes a UFA?

    • I agree that Trouba isn’t worth that much. His agent of course will think otherwise. IMO he’s gone at the draft for someone’s first round pick plus.

    • Yes, plain trouba did nothing the last two playoff years, he’s not a top two way D man…I can’t stand players who have bad playoffs then think they deserve to be paid like a game changer

  5. Calgary and Carolina are good teams that might look to upgrade in goal, but it seems pretty obvious that Columbus will be looking for a goalie after they lose Bob to FLA.

    • I believe that Carolina will resign Mrazek to a multi year contract so they won’t be shopping for a new net minder.

  6. Can’t help but wonder if the Leafs and Jets talk trade this summer. I wonder if a transaction involving Trouba and Nylander takes place, perhaps a sign and trade with Trouba. Although he would have to want to go to Toronto to make such happen.

    I think Maurice is a good choice, but his team seemed to really lack any organization in their zone breakouts and the forecheck was not generating near enough offensive opportunities to make up for their lack of offensive zone time which their 2nd and 3rd lines simply couldn’t generate.

    Just as Ducharmes in Montreal helped Julien and the Habs with some offensive creativity, perhaps it is the forwards/offense Asst. Coach in Wpg that needs to be replaced.

    • Trouba all but stated that he has no desire to play in a Canadian market. No way he signs long term with Toronto. And they couldn’t afford him any ways.

    • Nylander? That guy isn’t worth it. Don’t him in Winnipeg.

  7. Trouba is done in Winnipeg, never wanted to be here and doesn’t want to stay, this is quite obvious in the Winnipeg Market. Now it becomes who is the best trade partner is it Detroit, NYR or someone else. Trouba has mentioned in the pass he doesn’t want to play in a Canadian market and Chevy is best off listening to that message as said teams wouldn’t be willing to give as much for a one year player who doesn’t plan on signing there.

    • Trouba to NJ Devil’s possibly. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sheri made a hard push for him, and also went hard after Myers in free agency. Myers in particular is a type of player the NJ blue line is lacking and could be a big puzzle piece to them taking things to another level. Not saying he would make them a cup contender at all, but he would definitely stabilize that blueline.

    • Caper you have been consistent on Trouba all along and live there, so I think you know more than I do about it. So, if that is the case they need to sign Myers or get a quality RD in return for Trouba or big hole on the blue line with only Buff as a proven top 4 guy. His contract expires in 2 years.
      Bottom line they need to get this sorted out with Trouba soon.

    • Given that Trouba wore a DETROIT Tigers hat during the final press conference, it seems pretty clear where he wants to go.

      • Yeah i’ve noticed that as well, Hopefully it means he’s coming home to Detroit this summer.

      • Good! I hope Trouba signs in Detroit and is a bust. Happens all the time a guy has one good season then signs huge deal and falls apart. Playoff bust

  8. I’d take Myers all day over Trouba. Myers is a Chara “light” and I disagree with the comment on that Karlsson deal. The more time that passes the better it looks.

  9. Trouba is a punk, did zero last two playoff years, he was crazy money, I wouldn’t pay him more than 6 million.

    Blake Wheeler, that was such a great contract, give a guy who will be 34 soon a 5 year deal LOL