Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 14, 2019
Latest on the Rangers, Islanders, and Sharks in today’s Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
UPDATE ON TROUBA
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks is not so sure the Rangers can reach a contract agreement with Jacob Trouba before the defenseman’s arbitration hearing on July 25. He still expects Trouba and the Rangers will eventually hammer out a seven-year, bonus-heavy deal worth between $7.5 million to $7.8 million per season. However, the longer things drag out, Brooks suggests the blueliner could turn this into a nine-year committment.
Brooks envisions Trouba opting for a one-year deal via arbitration and then signing an eight-year extension late in the season or before next July. Going that route could make Trouba’s tenure on Broadway a short one, as there’s no guarantee general manager Jeff Gorton wouldn’t flip him to another club before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both sides apparently continue to have cordial contract discussions They could reach an agreement on a new contract before then. However, the longer this drags on, the more questions will arise over Trouba’s future in New York as his arbitraiton hearing looms.
ISLES TO MOVE LEDDY?
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis briefly mentioned the possibility of the New York Islanders trading defenseman Nick Leddy before training camp. However, he doesn’t expect Leddy will fetch an impact player he feels the Isles need to contend next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy’s frequently popped up in the rumor mill since May. While he could be traded come September, I agree with Cyrgalis that the Isles won’t get an impact player in return.
It’s been a weird off-season for the Isles. On the plus side, they re-signed Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle. On the down side, they let goaltender Robin Lehner (their MVP last season) depart via free agency. His replacement is an inconsistent, brittle veteran in Semyon Varlamov, considered a mentor to promising Ilya Sorokin whenever he’s ready to leave the KHL. They also lost a major bidding war for Artemi Panarin, leading some observers to suggest the winger merely used the Isles to leverage a massive new contract with the Rangers.
MORE MOVES IN STORE FOR THE SHARKS?
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked if the San Jose Sharks will pursue another top-nine winger via free agency. That question came following their surprisingly cheap re-signing (one-year, $1 million) of winger Kevin Labanc. Depending on the cost of bringing back Joe Thornton, Kurz doubts the Sharks can afford to chase the remaining UFA wingers unless they’re willing to ink a low-cost one-year deal. Otherwise, the Sharks would have to shed salary via trade.
Kurz doesn’t rule out a possible return of Patrick Marleau. However, if the 40-year-old winger expects more than a one-year, $1 million contract, Kurz thinks GM Doug Wilson could seek other options. Asked about the trade status of goalie Aaron Dell, his $1.9-million cap hit probably isn’t easy to move after coming off a rough season. Kurz also downplays trade rumors regarding winger Melker Karlsson, considering him a valuable depth player.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also noted Labanc’s new contract. “We trust the NHL will keep a close eye on this when — that should be, if — he signs a multi-year extension soon after he is eligible to do so on Jan. 1.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: More than a few eyebrows shot up last week after Labanc, coming off a 56-point season, agreed to a one-year deal worth well below market value. The league hasn’t stepped in to void the contract so we must assume they’re fine with it. But as Brooks suggests, if he signs a lucrative new deal early in the new year, that one-year contract could be construed as salary-cap circumvention.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson, however, seems too shrewd to fall into that trap. It wouldn’t surprise me if he and the Labanc camp have a “handshake agreement” ensuring the winger gets a hefty pay raise on his next deal.
Labanc will be a restricted free agent next July 1. If he and the Sharks wait until then to sign that next contract, I believe there’s nothing legally the league can do about it under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. It’ll be interesting to see if this type of maneuver is addressed in the next CBA.