NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2019
The Canucks and Sabres could have more moves in store, plus an update on Nikita Gusev in today’s NHL rumor mill.
IS A BIG MOVE COMING FOR THE SABRES?
THE BUFFALO NEWS: After the Sabres shipped Alexander Nylander to Chicago for Henri Jokiharju, Mike Harrington believes general manager Jason Botterill could have a bigger move in store. He speculates it could involve defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s been a frequent subject of media trade chatter. Harrington suggests it could even be a multi-player deal.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also believes the Sabres aren’t done dealing this summer. Given their depth on defense, Botterill could peddle Ristolainen for a top-six forward. One rumored suggestion is dangling him to the Winnipeg Jets for winger Nikolaj Ehlers, or perhaps a package of young forward Jack Roslovic and veteran Mathieu Perreault. O’Brien also wondered if the Edmonton Oilers would be open to a Ristolainen-for-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins swap.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill seems to be setting the table for a bigger move involving Ristolainen. Whether that goes down this summer or during the regular season remains to be seen.
Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got nine defensemen. Jokiharju is listed as a non-roster defenseman but it’s safe to assume he’ll be part of their lineup when the season begins. Zach Bogosian could miss the start of the season recovering from surgery, but I doubt that’ll prevent Botterill from pulling the trigger on the right deal.
Ehlers for Ristolainen could be a good move for the Jets. He’d replace the departed Jacob Trouba and his cap hit is cheaper than Ehlers. So far, however, there’s no indication out of Winnipeg that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is shopping Ehlers or seeking a replacement for Trouba.
Nugent-Hopkins has frequently popped up in Oilers trade conjecture for several years. However, I don’t think GM Ken Holland intends to move him. While it would bolster Edmonton’s defense it would hurt their scoring depth.
CANUCKS FACE COST-CUTTING MOVE
VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnston reports the Vancouver Canucks signing Micheal Ferland yesterday leaves them pressed for salary-cap space. Forwards Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin are restricted free agents in need of new contracts. Johnston suggests center Brandon Sutter or winger Loui Eriksson could become trade candidates.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton also believes the Canucks face a cost-cutting move after signing Ferland. They have around $5.1 million in salary-cap space. Unless Boeser accepts “an extraordinarily team-friendly bridge deal,” they’ll have to clear sufficient cap room for his new contract.
Clinton considers Eriksson the best choice but his $6-million annual average value could be difficult to move. Defenseman Chris Tanev has frequently surfaced in trade speculation but Clinton feels moving him could weaken their playoff chances next season. He also suggests Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, or Tanner Pearson as possible trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Boeser will be taking any team-friendly bridge deals. As one of the Canucks’ top forwards he’ll want to be paid as such. Even if Canucks GM Jim Benning can get him signed to around $5 million it’ll leave them no wiggle room to sign Goldobin or to make other moves during the regular season. I believe Benning will try to ship out a salaried player to make room for Boeser’s new contract.
Eriksson would be the best choice but that’s not going to be easy at this point in the offseason. There are clubs with sufficient cap room to take his contract off the Canucks’ hands but the remaining three years on his deal could be a deal breaker. Even including a sweetener won’t be enough unless the Canucks agree to pick up a big chunk of that cap hit.
Sutter’s popped up in recent trade speculation but he’s also a tough sell. Whlle his cap hit is lower ($4.375 million) and the term one year shorter than Eriksson’s, his injury history is cause for concern. Tanev ($4.45 million) is a UFA next summer and he’s also dealt with injuries in recent years. The pair also carry modified no-trade clauses. So does Beagle, who’s signed through 2021-22.
Roussel, meanwhile, is out until December recovering from knee surgery. Pearson netted nine goals and 12 points in 19 games after being acquired from Pittsburgh last season. Benning could be reluctant to part with him.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS NOT SEEKING MUCH FOR GUSEV
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger recently reported sources claim the Vegas Golden Knights seek a second-round draft pick and either a later-round pick or a lower-tier prospect for winger Nikita Gusev.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are pressed for salary-cap space. They’re reportedly offering Gusev a two-year deal worth $2 million annually while the winger’s camp seeks $4 million. HIs asking price could explain why Vegas hasn’t moved him yet.