NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2019
The latest on Nikolaj Ehlers, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Andrei Markov in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE JETS TRADE EHLERS?
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck notes Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers became a fixture in offseason trade speculation. He believes the Jets would come to regret moving him, pointing to Ehlers’ positive impact on the Jets’ shot attempts, controlling possession out fo the defensive zone, and into the opposition zone.
Billeck acknowledged Ehlers’ poor postseason numbers and that he can sometimes be unpredictable. His critics would like to see him be stronger on the puck.
Ehlers was linked to the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres. While some suggest swapping him for Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, Billeck believes the Jets would lose in that deal. He consider it folly to trade him unless the return is a “young, top-pairing defenseman with a high ceiling.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Billeck notes the Jets could draw upon their depth on the wings for trade bait, making Ehlers a prime candidate to swap for a blueliner. Finding the right fit, however, could be difficult.
The Sabres loaded up with defensemen this summer, making Ristolainen a potential trade candidate. I don’t share Billecks’ low assessment of Ristolainen but Ehlers probably isn’t a fit with the Sabres because they’re deep enough at left wing.
Hurricanes veteran Justin Faulk is eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer and could be shopped if an agreement on a contract extension can’t be worked out. However, he won’t fit that requirement for a young top-pairing rearguard with upside.
ANOTHER PULJUJARVI UPDATE
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson weighed in on his thoughts regarding Jesse Puljujarvi opting to play in Finland while awaiting a trade by the Oilers. The winger’s poor stats (37 points in 139 games) resulted in tepid trade interest, though if he were placed on waivers, the other 30 NHL teams would put in a claim for him.
Unless a club offers up a good, young prospect and a draft pick, he doesn’t see the Oilers moving Puljujarvi. Matheson wonders if the winger’s value might improve while he plays in Finland or if other clubs get into injury problems.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much else to say about Puljujarvi’s situation that hasn’t already been said. Barring an unexpected rise of interest in the former first-round pick in the coming weeks, it could take a while before the Oilers receive a decent offer.
POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR MARKOV
THE HOCKEY NEWS: With Andrei Markov hiring agent Allan Walsh in hopes of making an NHL comeback, Jared Clinton looks at possible destinations for the 40-year-old defenseman.
Markov spent his entire NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens and would prefer a return with the Habs. With Victor Mete, Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak, and Mike Reilly on the left side, Markov might not be a fit with the Canadiens. Clinton wondered if a reunion with former Habs defense partner P.K. Subban might be possible on the New Jersey Devils.
The Calgary Flames could seek a replacement for sidelined defenseman Juuso Valimaki. Age and money, however, could work against Markov heading to the Stampede City. The Colorado Avalanche could use a little more experienced blueline depth, as could the Edmonton Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out Markov returning to Montreal but that depends on general manager Marc Bergevin. I daresay he’ll assess his blueline during training camp and preseason play before deciding if his defense corps needs help. Even then, Markov might not be on his list of options.
As for the other clubs, Markov’s age and his two-year absence from the NHL work against him. He could be forced to accept a professional tryout offer.