NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2019
Evgeni Malkin to the Panthers? What could the offseason hold for the Stars? What’s the latest on the Canucks? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PANTHERS INTERESTED IN MALKIN?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports sources within the Penguins organization and around the league said the Florida Panthers are interested in Evgeni Malkin. Penguins management wasn’t pleased with Malkin’s performance this season. They could seriously consider trading the 32-year-old center, who has a no-movement clause.
The Panthers could also be interested in Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin if he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Kingerski feels a Malkin-Panarin punch would go a long way toward making the Panthers competitive again and revive a struggling fan base. He believes the Penguins’ asking price is a high scoring forward (such as left wing Jonathan Huberdeau), a prospect, and a first-round draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Penguins are considering all their options short of trading Sidney Crosby and Matt Murray. If the Panthers are willing to part with Huberdeau, a top prospect, and a first-round pick, I daresay Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford will seriously consider it. Such a deal depends on whether Malkin waives his no-movement clause.
The Panthers had no trouble scoring goals this season, sitting ninth in goals for per game (3.22). It was keeping them out of their net that was the problem, as their 3.33 goals-against per game was the league’s fourth-highest. A Malkin-Panarin duo might add star power to the Florida lineup and help sell tickets. They won’t address the Panthers’ glaring need for a reliable starting goaltender and another top-four defenseman. If the Panthers do this deal, they might not have sufficient assets to address their defensive issues.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE DALLAS STARS?
ESPN.COM: Following the Dallas Stars elimination last night from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters speculated over the club’s offseason plans. They believe the Stars should attempt to re-sign winger Mats Zuccarello. He fit in well with his new teammates after coming to Dallas at the trade deadline.
Restricted free agent defenseman Julius Honka has fallen out of favor and it could be time to trade him or pass up qualifying his rights. The Stars lack salary-cap space and draft capital that could be used as trade bait, but they should attempt to add a scoring winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have over $60.7 million invested in 15 players. Zuccarello, who turns 32 in September, might be amenable toward a three-year contract for roughly the same annual average value ($4.5 million) as his current deal.
Lindell logged top-pairing minutes and netted a career-high 11 goals and 32 points this season. He’s got arbitration rights this summer and could be in line for a long-term deal worth over $5.5 million annually.
I expect they’ll shop Honka, who surfaced in trade speculation this season. Perhaps he’ll be packaged in a deal to add a scoring winger. The rise of Jason Dickenson and Roope Hintz this season could lead to RFA Brett Ritchie hitting the trade block.
LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Ryan Biech recently suggested the Vancouver Canucks leverage their salary-cap space this summer to acquire future assets from other clubs. He recommended targeting cap-strapped clubs like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, and Winnipeg Jets.
SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre recommended the Canucks clear out some clutter to improve their depth going forward. Buyout candidates could include forwards Tim Schaller and Ryan Spooner. He doesn’t see a trade market for Nikolay Goldobin or Markus Granlund.
Trading veteran Loui Eriksson ($6 million annually through 2020-21) is a long shot. If they retain part of Brandon Sutter’s $4.375-million cap hit, he could be a tradeable asset. However, it might be best to retain him in hope of a healthier season improving his trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $53 million invested in 20 players. RFA winger Brock Boeser and UFA defenseman Alex Edler are their only core players to be re-signed this summer. Assuming ownership is willing to spend to the projected $83 million salary cap for next season, there’s plenty of room to target teams looking to shed salary. It remains to be seen if GM Jim Benning intends to be that bold this summer.
Eriksson must agree to waive his no-trade clause and I daresay the Canucks will have to pick up part of his cap hit to move him. However, his age (33) and declining performance will make it difficult to drum up interest in the trade market. I concur with MacIntyre that they’ll need a healthier season from Sutter if they hope to move him.