NHL Rumor Mill – July 18, 2019
Will the Oilers find any takers for Milan Lucic or Jesse Puljujarvi? Could the Jets have interest in Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen? What’s the latest on Patrik Laine? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON LUCIC AND PULJUJARVI
THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman doubts the Edmonton Oilers will get much of a return for Milan Lucic or Jesse Puljujarvi. Still, dealing either guy could be addition by subtraction and bring something back to the lineup.
Despite Lucic’s bloated contract and declining production, Nugent-Bowman said he was told several team looked into acquiring the left winger. Lucic is only owed $16 million in actual salary of the remaining $24 million against the salary cap.
Trading Puljujarvi won’t be easy as the previous management mishandled the winger’s development that adversely affected his play. Oilers general manager Ken Holland could try to trade Puljujarvi for a comparable young player or for an older, established top-nine forward.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples lists 10 reasons why an NHL club should trade for Lucic. Among them are Lucic’s physical game, his strong possession numbers, durability, leadership and experience.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors Staples listed about Lucic haven’t improved the Oilers. Combined with his $6-million annual average value through 2022-23 and the drop in his scoring and you’ve got a tough sell.
Puljujarvi would be easier to move but interested clubs could attempt to squeeze Holland by asking for something else in the deal. They could also be reluctant to give up anything worthwhile for the young Oilers winger.
LATEST JETS SPECULATION
WGR 550: Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press discussed recent rumors linking Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Winnipeg Jets. He acknowledged there’s speculation suggesting Ristolainen or unrestricted free agent blueliner Jake Gardiner could be a good addition to the Jets blueline. Hamilton said Neal Pionk, recently acquired by the Jets from the New York Rangers, is still a bit of an unproven commodity. He also feels Sami Niku isn’t ready yet to be a top-four blueliner.
Jets left-winger Nikolaj Ehlers has come up in trade rumors. Hamilton doesn’t think he’s a fit in Buffalo, pointing out the Sabres are already deep at left wing. He suggests perhaps a package of promising Jack Roslovic and veteran center Mathieu Perreault.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could use an experience top-four, right-side rearguard. It remains to be seen if they’re seriously eyeing Ristolainen and if they can come up with an enticing trade package to get him.
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck reports none of the recent rumors surrounding Patrik Laine are substantiated. The restricted free agent winger is said to be seeking a short-term contract amid whispers of his supposed unhappiness over his role with the Jets. Billeck believes just because Laine wants to consider his options doesn’t mean he wants to leave Winnipeg. Both sides have a lot to consider regarding their contract negotiations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Billeck points out, Laine isn’t the only RFA star still without a new contract. The notables include Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser.
The Laine rumors likely had to do with reports of some discord in the Jets dressing room last season. Winnipeg’s small-market status, Evander Kane’s tumultuous departure several years ago, and Jacob Trouba’s trade request three years ago also factor into the Laine conjecture. Unless we hear otherwise, expect the Jets to re-sign Laine.