NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2019
Rumors persist linking the Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen to the Jets, plus updates on Sonny Milano and Matt Benning in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPECULATION PERSISTS LINKING RISTOLANEN TO THE JETS
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports a recent hand injury to Brandon Montour could ensure Rasmus Ristolainen starts this season with the Sabres. Nevertheless, the 25-year-old defenseman remains a fixture in NHL trade rumors.
Harrington notes there’s no shortage of intrigue with the Winnipeg Jets after Dustin Byfuglien was suspended for not reporting to training camp. If Byfuglien retires, it’ll free up $7.6 million in salary-cap space for the Jets. However, they want him back and will quickly rescind the suspension if he returns for this season.
Byfuglien’s situation raises concerns over a Jets defense corps already depleted by trading Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers and the departure of Tyler Myers via free agency. “And while many observers quickly connect the Jets to the Sabres because Winnipeg pro scouting director Peter Ratchuk is a former St. Francis student often in the press box at Sabres games, the Jets have a complicated cap situation,” said Harrington. He points out the Jets still have to re-sign wingers Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Throughout the summer there was speculation suggesting the Sabres should ship Ristolainen to the Jets for winger Nikolaj Ehlers. However, he’s a left-winger and it’s believed the Sabres prefer a right-winger.
As long as Montour’s on the shelf I doubt Ristolainen’s going anywhere. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out once Montour’s back in the lineup and if the Jets pursue him in the trade market. The Anaheim Ducks reportedly inquired about Ristolainen after the Justin Faulk deal with Carolina fell through.
MILANO’S DAYS WITH THE BLUE JACKETS COULD BE NUMBERED
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports things could be coming to a head for winger Sonny Milano with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The former first-round pick (16th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft) has been passed by Alexandre Texier and Emil Bemstrom on the Jackets’ depth chart. They would prefer trading Milano rather than place him on waivers but the market for the 23-year-old winger is cold.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Milano’s recent off-ice escapades also hasn’t helped his trade value. He recently pleaded not guilty to an assault charge in connection to a dispute over a bar tab in Manhattan in July.
BENNING ON THE BLOCK?
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell suggests Edmonton Oilers defenseman Matt Benning could become a trade candidate as general manager Ken Holland tinkers with the roster. The Oilers have too many qualified defensemen based on preseason performance, which could prompt Holland to shop one of them.
Benning carries an affordable $1.9-million cap hit and is a restricted free agent next summer. If Holland is confident with his current blueline corps, Mitchell suggests perhaps Benning could be used to bring in a third-line center.