NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2019
Updates on Jesse Puljujarvi and Jason Zucker plus a look at the notable players still available in the UFA market in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PULJUJARVI DOUBLES DOWN ON TRADE REQUEST
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Finnish newspaper Kaleva reporting Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi still wants to be traded. Unlike previous reports where Puljujarvi’s agent spoke for his client, this time it’s the winger personally making his intentions known. A restricted free agent, he said he’ll stay in Finland until he has a new contract.
‘I want a new start with some other team. Playing in North America is still my goal.” “I will stay on Oulu until I have a contract. I will find a place to play somewhere.’
Puljujarvi added he’s recovered from his recent hip surgery and feels much better. He’s hoping to be traded by the Oilers before training camp.
Staples, however, doubts Puljujarvi doubling down on his trade request will changes things much. The Oilers would need a solid trade offer to move him. That’s still possible but increasingly unlikely given clubs are now locking in their rosters “and finding ways to get out of the cap trouble that may have forced a trade.”
Staples feels the best option is for the Oilers to simply allow Puljujarvi to spend this season playing in Europe and regaining his confidence.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Puljujarvi isn’t re-signed or traded when training camp opens next month, he could be forced to swallow his pride and return to the Oilers if he wants to play in the NHL. If he thinks personally telling the press he wants a trade will force Holland to move him, he’s setting himself up for disappointment.
I don’t doubt Holland has looked into trade Puljujarvi but the youngster’s stock is probably so low right now that whatever offers the Oilers received doesn’t make moving him worthwhile. Holland won’t trade him for peanuts or for the sake of making a deal.
UPDATE ON ZUCKER
NHL.COM: Jesse Pierce reports Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker was told directly by team owner Craig Leipold that Paul Fenton was relieved of his duties as general manager. Zucker, 27, was the subject of trade rumors since the middle of last season as Fenton attempted to move him to Calgary and Pittsburgh since February.
“Names get floated out there all the time, and I’m glad the trades didn’t happen,” Zucker said. “It’s always something. If it happens once, it’s in the back of your mind for a bit; if it happens twice, it’s really in the back of your mind, and it was definitely something at the forefront of my life for the last while. But again, it’s hard for me to fault [Fenton] if he thought that’s what’s best for the organization.
“Whether you agree or disagree with it, he felt those were moves that would make the team better, and ultimately Craig disagreed and didn’t like what was happening and decided to go in another direction.”
Zucker added he’s unconcerned about having to prove himself to whoever becomes the next Wild general manager. However, he feels it’s up to him and his teammates “to prove to the GM who they are, why they should keep them, and why they should be centerpieces of the team and things of that’s sort.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Fenton out of the picture, I daresay Zucker won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. He also now has a 10-team no-trade list, which could complicate attempts by the future GM to move him.
NOTABLE PLAYERS REMAINING IN NHL UFA MARKET
NBC SPORTS: Sean Leahy recently recently looked at some of the noteworthy players still available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.
He expects veterans such as Joe Thornton, Justin Williams, and Nikla Kronwall will either return for another season with the clubs they played for in 2018-19 or retire. He also expects Patrick Marleau will sign with San Jose or hang up his skates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton and Marleau will likely get one-year, bonus-laden contracts with the San Jose Sharks. Williams is believed to be leaning toward another season with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kronwall hasn’t reached a decision yet but Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman indicated his willingness to bring back the blueliner for one more season.
Professional tryout offer candidates include goaltender Cam Ward and Scott Darling and defenseman Dion Phaneuf, Ben Lovejoy, and Marc Methot.
Age and/or injury have taken a toll on these players. They could indeed be forced to compete for jobs via tryout offers when training camps open next month. Methot is reportedly considering retirement.
Among the available forwards, Leahy lists (alphabetically) Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, Patrick Maroon, Jason Pominville, and Tobia Rieder as the best of the bunch. The 26-year-old Rieder is the youngest and Leahy suggests he could be a “real bounce-back candidate” this season.
Jake Gardiner remains the best available defenseman. Ben Hutton, 26, is also available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leahy published this listing before the New York Rangers bought out Kevin Shattenkirk. Despite his struggles with the Rangers, I expect some team will have interest in him.