NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2019
Can the Oilers ship Milan Lucic to the Canucks? Will Pavel Datsyuk return to the Red Wings? What’s the latest on the Golden Knights and the Leafs efforts to re-sign Andreas Johnsson? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Oilers left wing Milan Lucic telling Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650 he doesn’t rule out finishing his NHL career with the Canucks. Lucic, a Vancouver native, admitted things haven’t gone well for him with the Oilers. The club is set to hire a new general manager and head coach this summer.
Lucic believes the Canucks are a growing, exciting team and praises Vancouver GM Jim Benning and coach Travis Green. Staples suggests the Oilers would have to take back a bad contract, such as that of Canucks winger Loui Eriksson, to facilitate a Lucic swap with Vancouver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While anything’s possible, I don’t think Lucic-for-Eriksson is a winner for the Oilers. While Eriksson has less time left on his contract (three years) than Lucic (four), he’s also three years older. Taking him on simply to shed Lucic is just swapping one problem for another and won’t improve the Oilers. The same applied to the Canucks.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector suggests the Oilers package defenseman Adam Larsson with a draft pick or prospect for Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen, or swapping blueliner Kris Russell for a solid, penalty-killing third-line winger. He then proposes signing a veteran shutdown defenseman like Montreal’s Jordie Benn, Toronto’s Ron Hainsey, or Winnipeg’s Ben Chiarot to a short-term deal via free agency. That blueliner would fill the gap until the younger rearguards within their system are ready to go.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larsson would certainly fetch a quality scoring winger for the Oilers but his departure would leave a big hole on their blueline in the short term. It’ll be interesting to see what the next Oilers GM has in store for their roster this summer. Trading Larsson might not be in his plans.
COULD DATSYUK RETURN TO THE RED WINGS?
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports former Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk is visiting Detroit with his family. That’s sparking speculation about a possible NHL comeback with the Wings. His agent, Dan Milstein, said he’s had no discussions with Wings GM Steve Yzerman regarding his client. He spent the past three seasons playing for St. Petersburg in the KHL.
In 2016, the Wings traded Datsyuk’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes, who own his rights until his contract expires on June 30. He’ll become an NHL UFA on July 1. If Datsyuk desires an NHL return, Milstein said the Wings are the only club he’ll want to play for.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In his prime, Datsyuk was a great player who helped the Wings reach three Stanley Cup finals (2002, 2008, 2009) and win two championships. But he’s 41 now, and his play was obviously in decline during his final two NHL campaigns. The Wings are rebuilding with youth and I doubt he’d fit into their plans.
JOHNSSON REJECTED LEAFS EXTENSION AT TRADE DEADLINE
TSN: During an appearance earlier this week on Toronto’s TSN 1050, Darren Dreger indicated Maple Leafs winger Andreas Johnsson rejected two contract extension proposals at the trade deadline. The Leafs reportedly offered a two-year. $4.2-million contract and a four-year, $10.4-million deal. Johnsson, 24, is eligible for salary arbitration this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coming off a one-year, $787K contract, Johnsson is due for a significant raise following a 20-goal, 43-point performance. The Leafs, meanwhile, have over $74 million tied up in 17 players with Johnsson, Mitch Marner, and Kasperi Kapanen due for new contracts as restricted free agents while pending UFAs Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey must be re-signed or replaced.
Marner, of course, will be getting an expensive new deal from the Leafs, pushing them over next season’s projected salary cap of $83 million. They’ll get some cap relief by placing Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) on long-term injury reserve, but not enough to re-sign the others without cutting more costs via trades. Even then, there might not be enough for everybody they want to keep.
Johnsson could price himself out of the Leafs market, though we don’t know yet how much he’s seeking. Suffice to stay it’s not within $2.4 – $2.6 million, which is what he would’ve received had he accepted one of the Leafs offers back in February.
POSSIBLE OFFSEASON MOVES FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson lists Cody Eakin, Colin Miller, Ryan Reaves, and Nick Holden as possible cost-cutting trade candidates for the Vegas Golden Knights. The club is bumping against next season’s projected $83-million salary cap and they must shed salary to free up room to re-sign restricted free agent William Karlsson.
Of the four, Emerson believes Eakin and Miller are the likely trade candidates. Eakin has a year remaining on his contract with a $3.85-million cap hit. Miller has two years left and is Vegas’s third-highest paid defenseman at $3.875-million annually. He doesn’t expect unrestricted free agents Brandon Pirri or Ryan Carpenter to be re-signed but doesn’t rule out Deryk Engelland or Pierre-Marc Bellemare returning next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have no choice but to shed salary this summer. Can’t disagree with Emerson’s take on the likely trade candidates. They could try to bring back Engelland or Bellemare but that’ll depend on how much cap space they can free up and how much it costs to re-sign Karlsson.