NHL Rumor Mill – May 15, 2019
Latest on the Oilers and Avalanche plus an update on Rasmus Ristolainen in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT DOES HOLLAND HAVE IN STORE FOR THE OILERS?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson examined the roster options facing Ken Holland in his first summer as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers. He anticipates Holland will attempt to trade winger Milan Lucic, though he understands he’s dealing from a position of weakness.
Matheson doesn’t believe Lucic will be bought out. He notes that a buyout “would be $3.625 million next season, then $5.625 mil, then $4.125 mil, then $5.625 mil, with only the final four years ($625,000) making it worthwhile.” Holland could be forced to absorb part of Lucic’s $6-million annual average value, as well as include a young defenseman like Ethan Bear.
Matheson also mused over the future of struggling winger Jesse Puljujarvi. He wondered if Holland might look at moving him to Winnipeg or Carolina because he played with Patrik Laine and Sebastian Aho in junior. Matheson also suggested looking into acquiring winger Nikolaj Ehlers from the Jets. Ehlers will earn $6 million annually for six more years.
Matheson pondered what the future might hold for defenseman Adam Larsson. If the Toronto Maple Leafs were to come calling by offering up Andreas Johnsson, he wondered if Holland would listen. He suggested the Oilers GM should look at acquiring a “1A goaltender” and re-signing free-agent winger Alex Chiasson. He should also figure out where Andrej Sekera fits on their blueline and shop for depth via trade or free agency.
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently suggested Holland target the Tampa Bay Lightning for a scoring forward. The Lightning has too many forwards and can’t afford to retain them all. Tyler Johnson could be available. The Florida Panthers might make winger Mike Hoffman available if they sign Columbus Blue Jackets Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky via free agency. Affordable UFA options could include San Jose’s Joonas Donskoi or Vegas’ Brandon Pirri.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples suggested Lucic’s physical style could still prove tempting to a rival GM. Maybe a change of scenery will help him regain his scoring touch. Lucic has a no-movement clause but could waive it for the right club. Staples suggests it’s possible to make that move without having to absorb half of Lucic’s cap hit. He proposed the Vancouver Canucks as an option. They could take back a contract of an underperforming player like Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter.
Those scenarios would likely involve including a good young player, a top prospect, or a quality draft pick. Still, there’s no certainty the Canucks or any other club will bite. Holland will have to get creative and the return likely won’t provide immediate help for the Oilers.
Holland could be patient with Puljujarvi, hoping he recovers well from recent hip surgery and thrives under a new head coach. It wouldn’t be surprising, however, if he quietly gauges the young winger’s value in the trade market leading up to next month’s draft.
The Jets could be forced to shed salary to re-sign Laine, Kyle Connor, and either Jacob Trouba or Tyler Myers. They might be willing to move Ehlers as a cost-cutting measure. However, the Oilers would have to dump salary themselves before taking on Ehler’s contract. Larsson’s status could depend upon what Holland intends to do with Sekera.
As for potential trade targets, I don’t expect Johnson will be available because of his full no-trade clause. J.T. Miller seems a more likely option as he lacks no-trade protection until July 1. If the Panthers sign Panarin and Bobrovsky they could look at moving Hoffman, but he’s got a 10-team no-trade list and might veto a move to Edmonton.
BUSY SUMMER AHEAD FOR THE AVALANCHE
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers reported on the Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic’s season-ending press conference. Sakic prefers re-signing restricted free agent Mikko Rantanen to a long-term contract. However, he has no issue doing a short-term deal if that’s what the winger and his agent want. Sakic also plans to use his two first-round picks (fourth and 16th overall) in next month’s NHL Draft but would entertain offers to move up or down in the draft order.
Sakic expects veteran goaltender Semyon Varlamov will test this summer’s UFA market. He also intends to be “more aggressive” in this summer’s free-agent market. “We already have targeted players in mind if they become available that we’re going to want to talk to about joining our club, ” said Sakic.
Chambers believes the Avalanche could acquire a top-six forward by shopping defenseman Tyson Barrie, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. He notes the Avs have three promising young right-handed rearguards in Samuel Girard, Cale Makar, and Conor Timmons, though the latter missed this season with a concussion. Sakic spoke highly of Barrie, adding he’d be comfortable with Barrie, Girard, and Makar starting next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Avalanche have over $47.7 million invested in 14 players. Sakic has plenty of room to re-sign key free agents like Rantanen and make some additions via trades or free agency. I anticipate the Avs will be a better team next season.
Regardless of the length of Rantanen’s next contract, he’ll have the highest annual cap hit. He could get as much as $9 million per season.
If Varlamov departs, I expect Sakic will try to bring in an experienced backup for Philipp Grubauer. I don’t see Barrie getting traded. Makar and Timmons are promising but expecting them to immediately replace an experienced blueliner like Barrie would be folly.
With the promising young Avs on the rise, Sakic could entice a good second-line scorer via free agency to join them. He could also use one of his first-round picks to acquire a secondary scorer via trade, though I expect he’ll keep those.
So you have to figure no Bogosian and now no Pilut to start the season. If Botterill was seriously pondering a move of Ristolainen, can’t imagine how that happens now. #Sabres
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) May 13, 2019