NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2019
Looking ahead for the Blue Jackets, plus the latest on the Islanders and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUE JACKETS?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters believe the Columbus Blue Jackets should make a push to re-sign Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. Failing that, they’ll have to find suitable replacements this summer. Panarin and Bobrovsky are expected to test this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. Rumors link Panarin to the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers. There’s a sliver of hope that Bobrovsky could have a change of heart and re-sign with the Jackets.
Forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel are also slated to become UFAs this summer. Both were acquired from the Ottawa Senators before the trade deadline. Duchene fit in well with the Jackets but Dzingel saw diminished ice time during the playoffs.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline said Panarin, Bobrovsky, Duchene, Dzingel, and Adam McQuaid are all expected to depart via free agency this summer. President of hockey operations John Davidson could depart to take on a similar role with the New York Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Panarin, Dzingel, and McQuaid won’t be back. Bobrovsky could stay if the Jackets are willing to open the vault. However, he could get some tempting offers from rival clubs looking for an established starting goaltender. I also think Duchene would be willing to return for the right price, perhaps over $8 million per season on a long-term deal.
Cap Friendly indicates the Jackets have over $52.3 million invested in 16 players. Assuming an $83 million cap and provided ownership is willing to spend, they’ll have over $30 million to re-sign some of those UFA or find replacements via trade or free agency. The Jackets won’t be able to draw upon their draft picks as trade bait. They have just two picks in this year’s draft and five in next year’s.
LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports the New York Islanders will face decisions with pending UFAs Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, and Robin Lehner. General manager Lou Lamoriello expressed interest in re-signing all of them. Cyrgalis believes Lamoriello would love to bring in a high-impact forward such as Columbus’s Artemi Panarin. Adding more offensive skill might allow head coach Barry Trotz to loosen the reins on his tight-checking defensive system.
Cygalis notes Lee is interested in returning. Over the weekend, however, Cyrgalis suggested Mark Stone’s new eight-year, $76-million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights could be used as a starting point. He also feels Eberle is the most likely to depart while Lehner and Nelson are toss-ups.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lee’s representative could use Stone’s contract as a comparable but I doubt he’ll get that much from the Isles or anyone else. He earned $3.75-million per season on his current contract. Lee turns 29 in July and I expect Lamoriello will offer up something between $6 – $6.5 million per season on a five-year deal.
I also expect Lamoriello will do all he can to keep Lehner in the fold. As a Vezina finalist, he will be expensive to retain. His reps could seek something in the neighborhood of $7 million per season. I agree that Nelson’s a toss-up and Eberle is probably a goner.
UPDATES ON THE WILD
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently listed Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin among his list of Minnesota Wild player who could be on the move this summer.
Spurgeon is a year away from UFA eligibility. If it appears a contract extension is impossible to reach this summer, Russo suggested the defenseman’s trade value could be high at this year’s draft. He pointed out the Toronto Maple Leafs need a right-shot blueliner.
Zucker is coming off a down year and was nearly shipped to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. With GM Paul Fenton committed to a roster rebuild, the winger could be a prime trade candidate. Russo wouldn’t be surprised if Fenton explored Brodin’s trade value. However, moving him out could be a risk because veteran blueliner Ryan Suter isn’t getting any younger.
During a recent mailbag segment, Russo was asked which impact players the Wild should pursue this summer. He suggested Columbus center Matt Duchene and Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner. He also thinks one of the Islanders UFA forwards (Eberle, Nelson or Lee) would be a good fit.
Russo wondered if Fenton looks into Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen or revisits his interest in William Nylander. If Spurgeon is traded, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers might be a good replacement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Fenton will be among this summer’s busiest general managers. He already shook things up during the regular season, swapping Nino Niederreiter for Viktor Rask, Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato, and Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala. Zucker could be next.
If Fenton decides to move Spurgeon I can see the Leafs expressing interest, though finding sufficient cap space to re-sign him will be difficult. If Spurgeon is re-signed, maybe he’ll look at shopping Brodin.
The Wild have over $62.4 million invested in 14 players, with all their core players under contract. Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek are restricted free agents and should be affordable re-signings. If Fenton ships out Zucker and either Spurgeon or Brodin, he’ll want affordable young NHL-ready players in return. If he goes shopping for UFA help, I expect he’ll look for twenty-something talent.