NHL Rumor Mill – April 5, 2019
Latest on Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Torey Krug plus what could be in store for the Wild this summer in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples was dismissive of The Athletic’s Justin Bourne’s opinion that Oilers captain Connor McDavid wants out of Edmonton. Bourne made the comments during a recent appearance on Sportsnet’s 590 The Fan in Toronto, taking note of McDavid’s recent interview where he voiced his frustration over the club’s poor performance this season and the need for improvement soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no denying McDavid’s obvious unhappiness in the Oilers’ direction over the last two years. However, that doesn’t mean he wants to be traded or intends to approach management to request a move. That won’t stop some folks from trying to decipher the soft-spoken McDavid’s intentions based on his emotions from one day to the next.
Staples also noted Hockey Night in Canada analyst Craig Simpson’s suggestion that the Oilers should shop center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a top player in return. Staples acknowledged Nugent-Hopkins trade value is high right now. If the Oilers were to move him, Staples suggests packaging him with a defenseman like Matt Benning or Kris Russell for a “strong-to-outstanding defenseman”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Oilers lose their minds and put McDavid or Leon Draisaitl on the block, Nugent-Hopkins is probably their best trade chip. He’s signed through 2020-21 earning $6 million per season and lacking no-trade protection.
Some might consider his salary too expensive for a second-line center but I’d argue the rising cap combined with RNH’s career-best 67-point performance this season would make him quite enticing in the trade market. However, moving RNH for a defenseman will only further deplete the Oilers’ already thin secondary scoring depth. I don’t think that’s an option the next Oilers GM will seriously entertain.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WILD:
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe big changes could be coming for the Minnesota Wild this summer after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They wonder if head coach Bruce Boudreau will be back next season and believe the roster must get younger, faster and improve their scoring depth. They suggest general manager Paul Fenton should look for more trades comparable to their recent swap of Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo also wonders what the future could hold for Boudreau, who has one year remaining on his contract. He said every indication is team owner Craig Leipold doesn’t want to fire Boudreau. Russo also recommends Fenton find a true goal scorer. While he recommends proceeding with caution in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market, he also thinks Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner could be an intriguing option assuming they have no shot at Columbus’ Artemi Panarin.
Russo also wonders if Fenton will try to shop players like Jason Zucker, Jonas Brodin or Jared Spurgeon for other assets. He pointed out Fenton was interested in Toronto winger William Nylander before he re-signed with the Leafs and could circle back with the Leafs this summer. Russo also wondered if the Wild GM will target restricted free agents on cap-strapped clubs. The Wild could use a true No.1 center and some right-shot forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fenton already started overhauling the Wild roster this year by swapping Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask, Ryan Donato for Charlie Coyle and Granlund for Fiala. Those moves have had mixed results. Donato’s tallied 16 points in 21 games with the Wild but has cooled of late. Rask hasn’t panned out as hoped thus far while the jury’s still out on Fiala.
I expect he’ll continue making moves with an eye on short- and long-term improvement. Zucker, Brodin, and Spurgeon frequently surfaced as possible trade candidates this season and I daresay we’ll see them pop up again once the playoffs are over.
COULD KRUG PRICE HIMSELF OUT OF BOSTON?
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Fluto Shinzawa recently observed Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug will be due for a hefty pay raise when his current contract expires next summer. Cap Friendly indicates his annual salary-cap hit is $5.25-million and he carries an eight-team no-trade list. Should the Bruins feel he’ll be too expensive to retain, Shinzawa believes this summer will likely be their final opportunity to move him, as he doesn’t see them peddling Krug near the trade deadline while in the thick of the playoff race.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug frequently popped up in trade speculation last summer. His future with the Bruins could depend upon how much it costs to get restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo re-signed this summer. Both are coming off entry-level contract and both will be looking for significant pay raises. Winger Danton Heinen is also completing his ELC and in line for a raise, while Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk will be RFAs next summer.
Krug will be 29 when his current contract expires and the Bruins could be reluctant to invest too much for too long in a defenseman pushing 30. Could be interesting to see how this plays out.