NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2019
A look at the Islanders’ potential offseason plans, the latest Oilers GM speculation, and an update on Ryan Miller in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello faces “a massive amount of questions” this summer. They have “a gaggle of free agents” plus “a handful of attractive trade pieces”. He feels they must add some “high-end skills” to supplement their defensive style.
Cygalis’ colleague Larry Brooks expects changes are coming. Goaltender Robin Lehner, captain Anders Lee, center Brock Nelson, and winger Jordan Eberle are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Brooks believes Eberle is “essentially out the door”.
The Islanders could have up to $34 million in salary cap room this summer but Lamoriello might not spend all of it. Brooks wonders if the Isles GM will get into a bidding war with the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers for Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin. He also pondered the possibility of Lamoriello attempting to sign Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitch Marner to an offer sheet.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters expect Lee to be re-signed and recommend retaining Nelson. The contract term for Eberle could become a sticking point for Lamoriello. Lehner will command a big raise but Kaplan and Peters wonder if the Isles GM will instead attempt to sign Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
They also wonder if Lamoriello will pursue a high-end forward like Panarin or Matt Duchene.
Backup goaltender Thomas Greiss has a year remaining on his contract. He could be traded if promising Ilya Sorokin cracks the roster next season. Center Valtteri Filppula could return on another one-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have over $47 million invested in 16 players. They’ll have plenty of cap room to re-sign their key free agents and bring in a high-end player or two. Lamoriello has a reputation for frugalness but he’s also willing to pay big raises to deserving players.
As long as the Lehner camp doesn’t seek Carey Price money, I expect he’ll return with the Islanders. I can see Lamoriello offering big bucks to Lehner on a two-year deal with the promise of more money to come on his next deal if he maintains his Vezina-worthy form. The netminder could feel a sense of loyalty to the Isles for taking a chance on him and perhaps agree to such a deal. We’ll see.
Lee seems keen to stay with the Islanders and Lamoriello probably doesn’t want to lose another captain two years in a row. Dollars shouldn’t be an issue but I recall reading somewhere that Lamoriello won’t want to go beyond five years for Lee.
Eberle has probably played his final game with the Islanders while Nelson’s status appears hazy. He’s coming off a career regular season and played well in the opening round sweep of the Penguins. However, he didn’t have a good series against the Hurricanes. Time will tell if that affects his contract negotiations with Lamoriello.
I expect Lamoriello will attempt to land a skilled player or two via free agency or trades. He’s got the cap space to make a competitive bid via free agency. He’ll also have to sell his prospective UFA targets on why the Isles are worth joining. The club’s improvement this season and the presence of well-respected head coach Barry Trotz should help.
Speaking of trades, I expect winger Joshua Ho-Sang will be shopped this summer. He’s struggled to crack the Isles roster under two different GMs and head coaches. He won’t fetch much on his own but could be bundled into a package offer.
As for an offer sheet, you can’t rule anything out with Lamoriello. However, he’s never gone that route before and could remain unwilling to go down that path.
OILERS STILL WOOING HOLLAND FOR GM JOB?
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reported sources claim the Edmonton Oilers are going all-in trying to woo Detroit Red Wings senior VP Ken Holland into becoming their new general manager. The two sides have reportedly conducted extensive negotiations, with Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson offering Holland complete autonomy to hire and fire at will.
The two sides could reach an agreement over the weekend with an official announcement of the hiring to be made next week. If Holland doesn’t accept the job, Mark Hunter, Sean Burke, and Oilers interim GM Keith Gretzky would remain in the running.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: By the sound of things, Holland would take over full control of the Oilers’ hockey operations department. That would rule out the possibility of any meddling from the so-called “Old Boys Network” of former Oilers among the front-office staff. Indeed, it could mean some of those people would be replaced by Holland. It’s a tempting offer for the former Wings GM, who’s been shunted aside in Detroit since Steve Yzerman took over that job.
If Holland accepts he’ll bring a stellar resume with him. The Red Wings were among the league’s dominant teams for most of his 22-year tenure as general manager. During that period, they appeared in four Stanley Cup Finals and won three championships. He also has a solid reputation at the draft table, selecting such notables as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Dylan Larkin. Critics, however, point to his tendency to overpay in the free-agent market and the Wings decline during his final years as GM.
It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds.
Anaheim Ducks have interest in bringing goaltender Ryan Miller back for one more year. Up to Miller to decide if he wants to play. Likely a bonus incentive contract #letsgoducks
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) May 3, 2019