NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2019
Five players who could be traded this summer and a brief note on Mitch Marner in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE SCORE: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris are among Josh Wegman’s list of five NHL players who could still be traded this summer. New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker, and Vegas Golden Knights forward Nikita Gusev round out the list.
The Sabres’ acquisitions of right-side blueliners Brandon Montour, Colin Miller, and Henri Jokiharju is stoking the Ristolainen trade speculation. Wegman suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, and Edmonton Oilers as possible trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs and Lightning cannot afford Ristolainen’s $5.4-million cap hit. The Leafs must re-sign Mitch Marner while the Bolts need to re-up Brayden Point. Cap Friendly indicates the Stars are bumping against the $81.5 million cap and recently added right-side rearguard Andrej Sekera.
The Jets could use Ristolainen to replace the departed Jacob Trouba but they’ve also got to re-sign Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Andrew Copp, among others. They’d have to move a significant salary (Nikolaj Ehlers?) to make it work. Some observers suggest the Oilers offer up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Ristolainen but that move would deplete their secondary scoring.
The Predators addition of Matt Duchene makes Turris, who’s earning an annual average value of $6 million, an expensive third-line center. His contract could prove difficult to move. Possible fits are the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres and Jackets have the cap space to take on Turris’ contract. Whether they want to is another matter. Turris could have a bounce-back performance but there might not be anyone in the trade market willing to take that risk right now.
The Rangers need to free up cap space to re-sign Jacob Trouba (among others). Kreider is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, and St. Louis Blues could be destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers decide to part ways with Kreider they could prefer doing so this summer. Otherwise, the uncertainty over his status will be an unnecessary distraction throughout the season. The Avs can afford him but I think general manager Joe Sakic is done making additions and is now focused on re-signing his remaining RFAs, including Mikko Rantanen.
The Bruins are trying to re-sign defenseman Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. With around $8 million in cap room, they can’t afford Kreider unless they shed a salaried player. If they can find a taker for David Backes, perhaps this could work. The Blues, meanwhile, seem focused on trying to keep their championship roster intact.
Wegman notes Wild GM Paul Fenton made failed attempts to trade Zucker to the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s unclear what direction Fenton is taking with the Wild and what he wants in return for Zucker. Wegman suggests the Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, and San Jose Sharks as possible trade partners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames were reportedly going to ship winger Michael Frolik and a draft pick to the Wild while Phil Kessel was supposed to be going to Minnesota from the Penguins. Fenton seems to be shaking up the younger players who were considered part of the Wild’s core. Last season, he shipped out Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund. It appears the Wild GM intends to retain Zucker for now but I think he remains open to offers.
The Avs and Devils can afford Zucker’s $5.5-million AAV but I believe they’ve already made their moves to boost their forward lines. The Sharks have over $4.6 million remaining in cap space and are expected to bring back Joe Thornton and perhaps Patrick Marleau for a last hurrah. That leaves no room for Zucker unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap.
The cap-strapped Golden Knights can’t afford Gusev’s demand for a two-year, $4-million per season contract. The Sabres, Devils, and Blues are possible fits.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gusev is a KHL star but he’s never played in the NHL. His contract asking price could explain why the Golden Knights haven’t moved him yet. They’re reportedly seeking a second-round pick and another pick or a prospect in return.
As for Marner, my view from afar is that it’s probably close to or at the point where TOR hopes an offer sheet is tendered. That would allow/force closure, one way or the other. Match the offer sheet or take the compensation, but it would be done.
— Bobby Margarita (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 15, 2019