NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2019
Updates on the Oilers, Flames, Canucks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
RECENT OILERS SPECULATION
ILTALEHTI: Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi said he intends on playing in the NHL. However, he admits his time with the Oilers could be short as trade rumors swirl. He’s resumed skating in Edmonton following recent hip surgery under the guidance of their skating coach. Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent on July 1 and is completing his entry-level contract.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: If the Oilers intend to trade Puljujarvi, Jim Matheson suggests packaging him to the Winnipeg Jets for winger Nikolaj Ehlers. He points out the Jets face a potential salary-cap crunch re-signing wingers Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor and defenseman Jacob Trouba. “(Offer) them Puljujarvi (Laine’s buddy), your second-round pick (38th overall) and defenceman Ethan Bear for Nik Ehlers,” suggests Matheson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have salary cap issues of their own this summer. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $73 million invested in 18 players next season. Unless general manager Ken Holland sheds salary, Matheson’s trade suggestion won’t leave much room to fill out the remainder of their roster. Besides, there’s no indication the Jets are considering an Ehlers trade at this time.
LATEST ON THE FLAMES
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported hearing the Oilers “kicked the tires” on Calgary Flames right wing James Neal. Friedman feels the Flames have two options with Neal. Either bring him back and hope he bounces back from this season’s sub-par performance or trade him and take another contract in return.
Bob Stauffer asked Friedman if Oilers winger Milan Lucic would go to Calgary. He doesn’t see that happening and also doesn’t see Neal to Edmonton as a fit. He was asked about a possible three-way deal involving the Vancouver Canucks and Loui Eriksson. Under that scenario, Lucic goes to Vancouver, Eriksson to Calgary, and Neal to Edmonton. Friedman responded by saying he believed Neal isn’t as bad as he was this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Flames are considering their options with Neal. If the right deal came along they’ll act on it. A three-way swap that sends Neal to Edmonton and Eriksson to Calgary isn’t it.
THE ATHLETIC: Kent Wilson points out the Flames’ need to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and two goaltenders. They must also restock their prospect cupboard.
He speculates Flames GM Brad Treliving could dangle a right-side defenseman like T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic. Potential trade partners could include the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, and Philadelphia Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have over $68.5 million committed to 19 players for 2019-20. Tkachuk’s new contract could eat up $9 million of their projected $14.4 million cap space. That won’t leave much for Bennett and two goalies.
Moving Neal’s $5.75-million annual salary-cap hit would address that issue. Failing that, Treliving could be forced to shop Brodie ($4.65 million, modified no-trade clause) or Hamonic ($3.875 million) to free up some room.
LATEST CANUCKS CHATTER
VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnston believes it’s a good idea for the Vancouver Canucks to pursue Jason Zucker. Recent rumors have the Canucks tabling several offers to the Minnesota Wild for the 27-year-old winger.
Johnston considers Zucker the type of scoring winger GM Jim Benning is looking for. If Wild GM Paul Fenton is looking to reshape his roster, Johnston suggested offering up two-way forward Jake Virtanen as part of the return.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs let defenseman Jake Gardiner depart via free agency on July 1, Johnston thinks he could be a good addition to the Canucks’ blueline. However, he wonders if Gardiner will want to trade the fish-bowl existence of Toronto for that of Vancouver’s.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: if the Canucks can land Zucker by giving up Virtanen and a good prospect or draft pick, go for it. However, I doubt that’s the type of offer Fenton will accept, considering his original asking price was Brock Boeser. I agree Gardiner could be a good fit with the Canucks, but he could be looking at a less-stressful market for his next destination.
Friedman can see the Canucks, Devils and Lightning having interest in Nikita Zaitsev. RHD are hard to find, another appealing thing for teams, he’s locked in and you know what his AAV will be for the foreseeable future.
— NHL Prospects Watcher (@Prospects_Watch) June 4, 2019
Hearing Nashville is choice No. 1. I’m not hearing Montreal, but EF is the gold standard. https://t.co/4PVQsGa9Ya
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 5, 2019