NHL Rumor Mill – July 24, 2019
The latest on the Jets’ efforts to re-sign Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, an update on Ben Hutton, and the latest on the Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
JETS FACE COST-CUTTING MOVE
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe observes the two-year, $4.9-million arbitration award for forward Andrew Copp leaves the Jets roughly $15 million with wingers Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor to re-sign. He doesn’t consider a buyout of defenseman Dmitry Kulikov worthwhile as it would count as $1.4 million annually against their salary cap and further deplete their blueline.
Noting the Jets shipped out Joel Armia and Steve Mason last summer to free up cap space, Wiebe believes the Jets could make another cost-cutting deal. He also dismissed the notion of the Jets signing unrestricted free agent rearguard Jake Gardiner, “barring some major reconstructive roster surgery.”
Wiebe speculates negotiations to re-sign Laine and Connor could drag throughout the summer. He also believes they can’t afford to open the season without those two.
TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault addressed speculation linking Laine to the Montreal Canadiens. He doesn’t put much stock into the prospect of the Habs swinging a deal to land the 21-year-old winger.
If there are discussions between the two clubs, Pedneault doesn’t believe they involve Laine. If they did, he said he was told the Jets would want Max Domi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could surprise us by putting Laine or Connor on the trade block but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it. I consider a Laine-to-Montreal scenario to be wishful thinking by some Habs followers. They aren’t going to sign Laine to an offer sheet, and I’m not convinced the winger wants one.
Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $17 million remaining. Whatever the actual amount, there appears enough to re-sign Laine and Connor to deals worth a combined $15 million. That’s assuming, however, they can get both players to agree to accept around $7.5-million each per season.
Given their stats and upside, they could be seeking much more. They could also be watching to see what comparable players like Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser receive.
Jets forwards Nikolaj Ehlers ($6 million annual average value) and Mathieu Perreault ($4.125 million) have frequently surfaced in offseason trade speculation. I daresay they’ll remain fixtures in the rumor mill for the remainder of the summer. Depending on how much it costs to re-sign Laine and Connor, one of them could be shopped before the start of the season.
UPDATE ON BEN HUTTON
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently reported sources claim multiple teams have strong interest in former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton. Those clubs are dissatisfied with their current defense corps. Hutton is 26 and averaged over 22 minutes of ice time per game, more than Jake Gardiner. Fox said Hutton wants to stick in the NHL, preferably as a second-pairing rearguard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hutton is a left-shot defenseman who also netted 20 points in 69 games with the Canucks last season. I expect a team in need of a left-side, second-pairing blueliner will attempt to sign him to an affordable short-term deal.
LATEST ON THE PANTHERS
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards addressed several questions from Florida Panthers fans wondering what other moves the club might have in store. If the Panthers feel good enough about their current defensive depth, Richards agrees Mark Pysyk could become a cost-cutting trade option.
He doesn’t see them pursuing a UFA like Jake Gardiner or Patrick Marleau. Addressing trade rumors regarding winger Mike Hoffman, Richards expects he’ll stick around for the time being.