NHL Rumor Mill – August 16, 2019
Updates on the Kings and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
POSSIBLE MOVES BY THE KINGS IN 2019-20
NBC SPORTS: Scott Billeck recently examined possible options for Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake to rebuild his roster. Several players, including Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, and Derek Forbort, will be seeking new contracts next season and it’s unlikely they’ll get them in Los Angeles. Billeck suggests those players could be shipped out at the trade deadline for assets.
James O’Brien believes goaltender Jonathan Quick’s trade window will be after this season. He feels teams will find Quick’s $5.8 million annual average value more palatable because his actual salary steadily declines to $3.5 million in 2020-21, $3 million in 2021-22, and $2.5 million in 2022-23.
O’Brien suggests Toffoli and defenseman Alec Martinez would attract plenty of interest in the trade market. The big contracts of Jeff Carter, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Dustin Brown make them unlikely to be moved this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake could take a “wait-and-see” approach to allow new head coach Todd McLellan a chance to turn things around this season. If Quick stays healthy and returns to form, if Kovalchuk regains his scoring touch, and if players in their contract years (like Toffoli) have strong performances, the Kings could sneak into the playoffs next spring.
But if the Kings remain outside the postseason picture, Blake could start shipping out some veterans for younger assets by the February trade deadline.
The decline in Quick’s actual salary in the final three years of his contract won’t matter if he has another injury-shortened campaign. Toffoli will certainly draw interest as a rental player. With a year left on his contract, Martinez will be enticing to clubs seeking blueline depth beyond this season.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE OILERS?
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz notes the same old questions remain for the Edmonton Oilers entering this season. He points to the lack of scoring punch beyond Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the still-thin defense, and questionable goaltending in Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith.
Gretz believes it’s only a matter of time until unhappy winger Jesse Puljujarvi is traded. He also wonders if forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or defenseman Oscar Klefbom hit the trade block this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since taking over as general manager this spring, Ken Holland earned positive marks for his moves thus far. That includes shipping fading power forward Milan Lucic to Calgary for less expensive winger James Neal.
Nevertheless, Gretz makes valid points about the Oilers’ ongoing problem areas. If there’s no significant improvement this season, Nugent-Hopkins or Klefbom could resurface in the rumor mill.
Puljujarvi could also be moved, provided Holland gets a decent return. Otherwise, Holland could call the youngster’s bluff, let him play in Finland this season, and revisit contract discussions or the trade market next summer.