NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2019
The latest on Phil Kessel, Corey Perry, and Shayne Gostisbehere, plus updates on the Islanders and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS NOW UNLIKELY TO TRADE KESSEL
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford now considers trading Phil Kessel “unlikely”. An attempt to Kessel to the Minnesota Wild was rejected by the winger, who holds an eight-team trade list. Rutherford now expects Kessel “will probably play for Pittsburgh next season.” He wouldn’t say if other teams had inquired about the veteran forward. The Penguins GM praised Kessel’s play, adding he’s fine with him staying in Pittsburgh.
Rutherford admitted he still has to move “a couple of players, probably” to free up salary-cap room. Kessel has three years remaining on his contract with the Penguins carrying $6.8 million per season of his $8 million annual average value.
TSN: Darren Dreger said “there’s some speculation” Kris Letang could be “potentially in play.” Like Kessel, the 32-year-old defenseman has three years left on his contract with a significant cap hit ($7.25 million AAV) and a modified no-trade clause. Except for Sidney Crosby, Dreger believes Rutherford is willing to listen to offers “on just about everyone” on his roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Letang has an 18-team trade list, which is much wider than Kessel’s. His big cap hit and long injury history could make him difficult to move. Other trade possibilities could include Patric Hornqvist, Justin Schultz, and Olli Maatta.
Earlier this spring, Evgeni Malkin was also mentioned as a possible trade candidate. However, Yohe claims he and Crosby aren’t going anywhere. I’d also add starting goaltender Matt Murray to that list.
WOULD THE OILERS HAVE INTEREST IN PERRY?
TSN 690 MONTREAL: Darren Dreger discussed possible destinations for Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry if he’s bought out of his contract later this month. The Ducks reportedly will try to trade him before month’s end. However, they could buy out the remaining two years of his contract if a trade isn’t possible.
Dreger feels there would be a market for Perry via the UFA market this summer. He suggests the Edmonton Oilers could perhaps use him to help captain Connor McDavid on the leadership side.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s veteran leadership would be helpful but the Oilers need a speedy scoring right wing. He can’t address that issue for them.
CANADIENS AND FLYERS TALKING ABOUT GOSTISBEHERE?
TVA SPORTS: cites NHL Network collaborators Dennis Bernstein and Anthony Di Marco claiming the Montreal Canadiens have been linked to Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. There’s no deal pending between the two clubs.
Di Marco said the Flyers are interested in rugged Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw. Bernstein added Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher is also looking at speedy left wing Paul Byron.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere to Montreal for Shaw and Byron? I don’t see that one happening. Too lopsided in the Canadiens’ favor.
“The Ghost Bear” is a former Calder Trophy finalist (2016) who is a year removed from a career-high 65-point performance. While his production dropped to 37 points this season, I attribute that to the fact the Flyers were a mess this season. He would certainly address the Habs’ need for a skilled left-side blueliner.
Shaw is a physical player who can play center or wing and has a decent scoring touch. He also has a long history of injuries and takes too many undisciplined penalties. Losing Byron would rob the Canadiens of a fast-skating 20-goal scorer. That could be offset, however, via free agency or with one of their promising youngsters within their system.
LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS AND RANGERS
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple provides an update on the New York Islanders’ contract negotiations with pending UFAs Anders Lee, Robin Lehner, and Jordan Eberle. While discussions between management and Lee remain cordial, the contract term is believed the sticking point. The Isles captain could seek between seven-to-eight years while the Isles prefer something around five or six years. The annual average value could be $6.5 million to $7 million.
Staple feels Lehner would like to stay put for the right price and term but the Islanders might not be at that point yet. If Lehner departs, GM Lou Lamoriello could sign a veteran to a one-year deal as a stopgap until promising Ilya Sorokin is ready to join them in 2020. If he seeks a longer-term option, Staple suggests pursuing Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.
Unless Eberle is willing to accept a short-term deal, it’s expected he’ll depart via free agency on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Isles will get Lee and Lehner re-signed. I think they can get a reasonable deal done with Lehner. I don’t see Eberle returning.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers aren’t ruling out going the contract buyout route later this month. Brendan Smith is the most likely buyout candidate. He’s got two years left on his contract with a $4.35 million AAV. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (two years, $6.65-million AAV) could be another, though the caps savings of over $5.1 million in 2019-20 would drop to just $56K the following year.