NHL Rumor Mill – October 16, 2020
The Patrik Laine trade speculation persists, an update on Zdeno Chara and the latest on the Blue Jackets and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the agents for Patrik Laine denied speculation suggesting the 22-year-old winger wouldn’t report to Winnipeg Jets training camp if he’s not traded before then. However, Laine knows he’s been in trade discussion. Given his lack of first-line minutes over the last two years, his agents believe it would be mutually beneficial to the player and the team if he’s dealt before training camp. They added there’s been clear communication with Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.
LeBrun spoke to Cheveldayoff, who maintains he’s considering all trade options and insists Laine remains a big part of the Jets organization. However, he feels the Winnipeg GM isn’t going to trade the winger just for the sake of it and would want a return that makes sense for the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I thought the return of Paul Stastny might quell the Laine trade chatter but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Jets addressed their need for a second-line center by reacquiring Stastny but they still need a right-side defenseman to skate alongside Josh Morrissey on their top blueline pairing. That’s probably Cheveldayoff’s asking price for Laine.
The question is, which team needs scoring and has the defensive depth to make that move? Some observers suggest the Carolina Hurricanes and Brett Pesce, but I don’t think he’s enough on his own to pry Laine away from the Jets. Another suggestion was the Florida Panthers and Aaron Ekblad. However, defense was a big problem last season for the Panthers, one that would be exacerbated by trading Ekblad.
The Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba is thought to be available, but they need a first-line center, not a scoring winger. The New Jersey Devils could use Laine, but I don’t see the Jets asking for P.K. Subban following his sub-par performance over the last two years. The Columbus Blue Jackets could be a suitor, but the Jets will likely prefer Seth Jones over David Savard and that’s a deal-breaker for the Jackets.
LeBrun also reports Zdeno Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, suggests his client’s return for another season with the Boston Bruins isn’t a slam dunk. LeBrun feels the Bruins remain the front-runner but other clubs have called. Keator said Chara intends to take his time. The schedule format for next season also interests the veteran defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara could be keeping all his options open. Nevertheless, some of this could simply be posturing to squeeze the Bruins for the best deal possible.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Porzline recently wondered if Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was done dealing after clearing salary-cap space while adding Max Domi and Mikko Koivu. He speculates Kekalainen could target one of the remaining scoring forwards in the UFA market if their asking prices drop the longer they’re available, if Pierre-Luc Dubois signs a new contract or if any team looking to target Dubois for an offer sheet makes a different move.
Portzline also mused about the possibility of the Jackets GM targeting a cap-strapped club for a forward. He proposed Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson as one option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jackets have $13.625 million in cap space. That’s not including placing Brandon Dubinsky ($5.85 million) on long-term injury reserve if necessary. If ownership is willing to spend to the cap, they’ll have no problem matching an offer sheet for Dubois.
While an offer sheet is a concern, I don’t think it’s going to happen because the Jackets have the space to match. In the meantime, there could be enough room to pursue a scoring forward for the right price via free agency or trade.
David Poile when asked if he is finished in free agency: “I think we’re open, and we have cap space. I think we’re going to look for opportunities.”
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) October 15, 2020