NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2019

by | May 7, 2019 | Rumors | 31 comments

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. 

Has Artemi Panarin played his final game with the Columbus Blue Jackets? (Photo via NHL Images)

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. 







31 Comments

  1. I said it before – but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Duchene re-sign with Ottawa.

    • You could be right, George, but I’ll take the field over Ottawa in the Duchene sweepstakes. Don’t you think he will look for an immediate contender for his next contract?

      • As these playoffs have shown, trying to choose an “immediate contender” can be a fool’s errand.

    • George, I’d be surprised. Duchene did nothing in playoffs to hurt his value and Ottawa already showed they weren’t willing to pay him. I don’t see Panarin staying in Columbus. I think he made it pretty clear he wanted to go somewhere else. IMO, Jackets need to keep Duchene. They went all in this year and it would be a disaster to lose both those guys.

      • Hold on there – where do you get the idea that Ottawa wasn’t “willing to pay him?” Duchene said the day of the trade that Dorion’s offer of $64 million over 8 years was more than fair … but that he just wanted one good kick at the can now for a Cup chance.

        https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/senators-make-matt-duchene-long-term-contract-offer/

        And how many would-be contenders heading into next season can offer him $8 mil (now 7 years as a UFA) without doing some serious cap juggling?

        I’m not predicting he will sign back in Ottawa – just that, based on his comments after leaving the team, that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. At some point an athlete has to stop chasing his tail looking for the gold and think about the long-term future.

      • Maybe Sens offer was fair, but for whatever reason Duchene didn’t commit. I’m sure he can get same money elsewhere on a team closer to contention. With the other departures I don’t see him going back to a rebuilding club. Wonder if Columbus loses Panarin could they pursue Skinner?

      • @Slick
        Duchene finally got a playoff taste. If he did not have a good playoff Id say back to Ottawa. But he will have a few good offers from teams that can make the playoffs next season

      • And if Duchene is, in fact, still seeking to hook on with a potential “winner” Columbus had better re-sign Bobrovsky and Panarin first because, without them heading into next season, Duchene might just think “here we go again” comparing those losses to what Ottawa just went through.

        And if both Panarin and Bobrovsky DO re-up in Columbus, could they afford to then offer Duchene the $8 mil he passed up in in Ottawa (which, by the way, was for 8 years). Right now they have $51,466,665 committed to 15 players with roughly $31,533,335 in cap space (IF it goes to $83 mil). Panarin ($6 mil) and Bobrosvky ($7,425,000) would account for almost half of that if their salaries remained the same – but that isn’t going to happen.

        They also have UFAs Dzingel, McQuad and Kincaid to consider (currently accounting for $8.5 mil – if retained, at what increase?) along with RFAs Robinson ($825,000), Hannikainen ($675,000), Werenski ($925,000), Clendenning ($1.7 mil), Harrington ($675,000) and Merzikins ($1,844,000) – if retained, at what overall increase?)

      • Oh, and just to be clear, in order for Duchene to get the same money offered by Ottawa elsewhere, said team would have to offer him just over $9 mil per because the max he could sign for is 7 years. Ottawa’s offer was $8 over 8 years. Do you see any “contending” team going as high as $9 mil per for 7 years for Duchene?

  2. DId a good finish & two rounds of spirited playoffs change any attitudes in Columbus? I think Bob is a priority & build out from there…the fans finally saw him win in the playoffs so he’s not tending with that monkey on his back any more. If they have to restructure elsewhere, they have cash and a new enthusiasm — Duchene might relish the leadership role & they can pay him. Torts can keep the club competitive with some mid-tier FA’s while the farm system is rebuilt…I think the fans believe in ownership again.

    • Duchene did seem to be a good fit in Columbus. One thing to consider though, if they do resign him I believe that will cost them a first round pick going to Ottawa. They just dealt away a lot of their future at the deadline; they will think long and hard before losing another first rounder.

      Not to say they don’t resign him, but I think it reduces the odds.

      • Another very good point which I failed to include in my remarks above.

    • Richard i agree..i think they will try to sign Bob…. I think Panarin & Duchense are gone and Dzingel is 50/50?

  3. Good points, George, the next Head Coach of the Sens might be a factor for Duchene and I could see Columbus putting on the full-court press to get him re-signed but you could be right. He’d fit in with a lot of teams, that’s for sure, but Ottawa might be his choice.

  4. Verbeek to Detroit, but the Lightning continue to believe the the front office is important & promote the scouting staff with three new asst GM’s from within. Not sure what was missing in the playoffs ( Columbus used all it’s puck luck in round 1, had none in round 2?) but a consistant level of talent depth should allow them to knock on the door a few more times going forward. Biggest challenge may be to clear everybody’s heads from last year, which may dominate next until some large immediate issue arrives. Until then every reg season win is a yeah but….

    • Step # 1 for Master Yzerman-
      many many more 2 come-

  5. Zucker to Calgary at the draft

    Lee comparable to Stone is absurd. They both have heart but that is where it ends. You are paying Stone for goals and he leads the league in takeaways .

    Interesting off season for the Jackets. Anything could happen and probably will.
    They won the Calder in 2016. Sonny Milano should get a shot now.

  6. Brodin would seem to be a good fit for the Habs, who are seeking a Top 4 LHD

    • Jake Gardiner, Paddy?

      • @BCLeaf Fan: I think Gardiner ends up in Edmonton as Jake needs a break from Toronto media and he’s a right handed D and can run a PP and skate which something the Oilers do need

  7. I thought the best Columbus players in the series were Jenner and Anderson. Panarin plays scared and Duchene was invisible most of the time. Columbus needs to find players who will get their nose dirty and grind.

    • Panarin had 6 points in 6 games vs Boston. Pretty much a point per game guy for his career in playoffs. Not sure what playing scared means, but I think you get from him exactly what you expect.

    • for me Seth Jones was CLB’s best player, then Bob , then Jenner . I do like Anderson , reminds me of Tom Wilson , a bit less vicious.

  8. Watching the Flyers hire Vigneault, Therrien and Yeo must be like watching the finals of The Biggest Loser.

    Fletcher is not instilling a lot of confidence in his thought processing.

    Brutal hires, just brutal.

    • Ya…I would have looked at Boughner and Housley as assistants.

    • Thankfully that removes both from the mind of Pierre Dorion – assuming Therrien or Yea were on his list to replace Boucher.

  9. I don’t know what Bob wants. Rumors was around 10M for 8 years. That is way too much he is 30 now. I can see the CBJ offering him 10M for 4 years and scaling that down over the next 4. If it comes down to Panarin or Duchene I take Duchene. As for lost draft picks? You can always get some back but they have a heck of a lot of good youngs ready to break in all is not lost. Texier is 19 and is a stud to name one.

    • @ Fred:Bob To Florida. No state tax..he will take less because of that very thing and Bobby Lou gets to retire

  10. Slick- Panarin is a perimeter player on the outside waiting for puck to come to him. I think he is a great regular season guy but not the best playoff performer. Jones was also good I agree he is a stud but Jenner and Anderson were in Boston’s face all series.

    • I don’t disagree with your praise of other players, just saying Panarin is paid to score and he has in playoffs.

  11. I like Vigneault with a veteran team . The rest no thanks. Isn’t about time that Therein step behind the Hab’s bench again or is it too soon ?