NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2019
Reaction to TSN’s latest “trade bait” board in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan, Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, and Nashville’s P.K. Subban are the top-five names on Frank Seravalli’s latest NHL trade bait board.
The Penguins were swept from the opening round of the 2019 playoffs, prompting general manager Jim Rutherford to suggest big changes could be coming. Seravalli cites friction with Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and linemate Evgeni Malkin as one reason why Kessel could be shopped this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel has three years remaining on his contract with the Penguins carrying $6.8 million of his $8 million annual average value. The Toronto Maple Leafs carry the other $1.2 million. Cap Friendly indicates he has a modified no-trade clause listing eight preferred trade destinations.
Moving him won’t be easy but it’s not impossible. Rutherford reportedly fielded trade inquiries about the 32-year-old right winger last summer. I daresay he’ll be open to offers this summer. The Arizona Coyotes are rumored as a possible destination.
Trouba is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status. Seravalli suggests the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche as trade partners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba’s contentious contract negotiation history with the Jets is fueling speculation he could be traded before July 1. He’s on a one-year, $5.5-million contract and lacks no-trade protection. Interested parties will want to speak to him about a contract extension before agreeing to a trade.
Callahan could be a cap casualty as the Lightning attempt to free up salary to re-sign restricted free agent Brayden Point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Callahan, 34, has a year remaining on his contract with a $5.8-million AAV and a 16-team trade list. The Lightning will have to include a sweetener (draft pick, prospect or young player) to draw interest in Callahan. If a trade isn’t possible, Callahan could be bought out.
Seravalli noted the Wild came close to moving Zucker at the trade deadline. He wonders if GM Paul Fenton will revisit a Zucker trade this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fenton already shipped out Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund for younger, cheaper talent. Zucker’s entering the second year of a five-year, $27.5-million contract with a modified no-trade clause that kicks in on July 1. The Flames were the team reportedly close to acquiring Zucker at the deadline. Don’t be surprised if Fenton calls them again.
Given the Predators early postseason exit, Seravalli wonders if GM David Poile might tinker with his blueline. He noted Subban no longer has no-trade protection, as that was voided after he was acquired from Montreal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile said changes were coming to his roster. That’s what’s given rise to the Subban trade speculation. The Predators need more scoring punch at forward. Subban would be their best bargaining chip to address that need. I don’t see Poile moving Josi, Mattias Ekholm, or Ryan Ellis, who signed a contract extension last summer. Trading Subban would be a bold move but Poile’s has a history of making such deals.
Calgary winger Michael Frolik, Toronto winger Connor Brown, Predators center Kyle Turris, Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and Columbus left winger Artemi Panarin are in spots six through 10 on Seravalli’s list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frolik was reportedly part of that aborted deal for Zucker at the trade deadline. I don’t think the Wild would be interested in him now. Nevertheless, the Flames could shop him in a cost-cutting move. He’s got a year left on his contract with a $4.3-million AAV and a 10-team no-trade list.
Brown, 25, has one year left on his deal with a $2.1-million cap hit. The Leafs must free up salary to re-sign Mitch Marner. Brown could be a cost-cutting option.
Turris is coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him net just 23 points in 55 games. He’s also entering the second year of a six-year, $36-million contract. Unless Poile agrees to pick up a healthy chunk of his contract (something he’s never done in previous trades), I don’t see Turris going anywhere.
Shattenkirk has two years left on his deal with a $6.65-million AAV and a 10-team no-trade list. The 30-year-old blueliner has a long injury history and his play has declined. The Rangers will either have to pick up part of that contract, take back a toxic deal, or include a significant sweetener to move him.
Panarin is headed to this summer’s UFA market. Seravalli suggests he could become a sign-and-trade candidate. He wonders if the New York Rangers might be a suitor. Failing that, the Blue Jackets could shop his rights to interested clubs for a conditional draft pick.
Calgary defenseman Travis Hamonic, Toronto blueliner Nikita Zaitsev, Penguins rearguard Olli Maatta, Vegas d-man Colin Miller, and Edmonton left wing Milan Lucic round out the rest of the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames could try to free up some cap room to re-sign winger Matthew Tkachuk. They could also be in the market for a scoring right wing. Most of the speculation out of Calgary suggests T.J. Brodie, not Hamonic, as the likely trade candidate.
Seravalli speculates Leafs GM Kyle Dubas could try to gauge the trade market for Zaitsev. He’s got five years left on his deal worth $4.5 million per season. I don’t see many takers for him unless the Leafs pick up part of that cap hit or include a decent draft pick or prospect.
Maatta’s come up a lot in Penguins trade speculation from Pittsburgh. He’s been in coach Mike Sullivan’s doghouse quite a bit and could benefit from a change of scenery. Maatta’s a 24-year-old puck-moving defenseman with a reasonable $4.083-million AAV through 2021-22. He also lacks no-trade protection. I can see him drawing interest in this summer’s trade market.
The Golden Knights must shed salary to re-sign William Karlsson this summer. Miller’s been mentioned as a cost-cutting option, as well as center Cody Eakin.
As for Lucic, the Oilers might be able to find a taker for him if they can take back a bad contract or retain half of his $6 million AAV. Still, that seems more like wishful thinking at this point. He’s also got a full no-movement clause. He could agree to waive it but he won’t do it for just any club.