NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2019
Should the Rangers try to acquire Evgeni Malkin? Could Jason Spezza return to the Senators? What’s next for the Hurricanes? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if the Rangers will attempt to accelerate their rebuild by pursuing Columbus’ Artemi Panarin via free agency or Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin via trade. He notes the Penguins require clearing salary-cap space and an organizational rebuild. However, he doesn’t see Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford parting with Malkin without getting a prime young asset or two in return. Brooks proposed perhaps offering “a Ryan Strome, a Jimmy Vesey, a Ryan Lindgren; a Yegor Rykov; a Pavel Buchnevich?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks is just spitballing here. He’s not saying the Rangers will pursue Malkin. Quite frankly, I don’t think the Penguins center will be traded. If he was, I believe Rutherford will want more than what Brooks is proposing.
THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi recently looked at possible Penguins trade candidates. He doesn’t think much will be gained by trading Malkin, noting the center hasn’t been asked to provide a list of trade destinations. Rossi said he’s heard Penguins captain Sidney Crosby wasn’t pleased with the Malkin trade chatter.
Rossi also said Rutherford hasn’t solicited offers for defenseman Kris Letang and right winger Phil Kessel. He acknowledged Letang’s injury history and $7.25-million annual average value hurt his trade value. There’s an expectation Rutherford will try moving Kessel, perhaps during the draft weekend or in early-July. Blueliner Justin Schultz could also become a trade candidate as he’s due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Again, it’ll take one hell of an offer to pry Malkin away from the Penguins. I also don’t see Letang going anywhere, in part because of the issues noted by Rossi. Kessel appears the most likely trade candidate, though Rutherford will want a quality return for the 32-year-old winger. As Rossi pointed out, Rutherford will seek a hockey trade, meaning a return that keeps the Penguins in Cup contention. Same goes for Schultz.
UPDATE ON THE STARS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza will be departing the Dallas Stars as a UFA this summer. The 36-year-old wants to continue his NHL playing career. He isn’t ruling out a possible return to the Ottawa Senators, where he spent the bulk of his career and enjoyed his best seasons.
Spezza parted the organization on good terms and still has good relationships with several people within the club. LeBrun notes Spezza won’t get another $7.5-million per season contract, but he’d accept a modest payday to continue his career in a third-line role.
SPORTSDAY: Matthew DeFranks wonders if young defenseman Julius Honka has a future with the Stars. The 23-year-old is a restricted free agent whose career appears stalled in Dallas. DeFranks believes Honka is “young and talented enough to draw at least marginal interest from other teams.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With only $45.1 million invested in 14 players, the Senators will have to spend to reach what could be a $60 million salary-cap minimum for 2019-20. Maybe they’ll entertain bringing back Spezza on a one-year deal worth $3 million?
As for Honka, the former first-round pick (14th overall in 2014) needs to move on. He’s struggling to crack the Stars roster. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE HURRICANES?
ESPN.COM: With the Carolina Hurricanes swept from the Eastern Conference Final, Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters examined what could be in store this offseason.
Goaltenders Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek are UFAs this summer but both are affordable and could return. Center Sebastian Aho is a restricted free agent. They recommend re-signing him to a deal comparable to that of Toronto’s William Nylander.
The pair also suggest shopping a defenseman for a forward, noting Justin Faulk and Dougie Hamilton were subjects of trade speculation this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s not much of a market for quality goaltenders this summer. The Hurricanes could have no choice but to keep their present tandem intact.
If they can get Aho signed to a long-term deal worth around $7 million annually it could prove a worthwhile move. The 21-year-old center is a rising star who led the Hurricanes in scoring in each of the last two seasons and their points lead in the 2019 playoffs.
Shopping a defenseman for a forward would be a good idea. However, the addition of Nino Niederreiter and the potential of rookie Andrei Svechnikov means there’s less urgency to make that move compared to a year ago.