NHL Rumor Mill – December 1, 2020
An update on Patrik Laine plus recent Blackhawks and Red Wings speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe prefaced his latest mailbag segment by wondering if the Winnipeg Jets could attempt to trade Patrik Laine to the Seattle Kraken if unable to sign him to a new contract. The 22-year-old winger becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer.
Wiebe believes few teams could afford to pay Laine a hefty long-term salary or the type of return the Jets would seek. The Kraken, however, enter the league next summer unencumbered by the salary-cap constraints faced by the other clubs. Laine could prove a tempting star to build around.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe is merely kicking around a theory here. We don’t know what the Jets will do with Laine or what Kraken GM Ron Francis might do if the winger hit the trade block next offseason. Nevertheless, it could be something worth monitoring as next summer’s expansion draft draws near.
Wiebe goes on to suggest there could be some unresolved issues between Laine and the Jets. However, there’s no concrete evidence suggesting the two sides have reached the point of no return and a trade becomes inevitable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those issues are likely Laine’s rumored unhappiness over his role with the Jets. His agent suggested weeks ago his client might be better off playing for a club that would provide him first-line minutes.
It’s believed the Jets brought back Paul Stastny to address that issue. However, that will depend upon whether those two can rekindle their offensive chemistry from Stastny’s brief appearance with the club in 2018.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: In a recent mailbag segment, Charlie Roumeliotis was asked how the Blackhawks will address a surplus of players on their roster if everyone is healthy to start the season.
If Dylan Strome is re-signed and Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith are medically cleared to play, the Blackhawks will have 15 forwards and only 12 spots available. A healthy Brent Seabrook will also result in a crowded blue line with prospects like Ian Mitchell and Wyatt Kalynuk hoping to crack the roster.
As of now, the Blackhawks intend to let training camp sort itself out. If a player gets squeezed out, that’s when a trade could be explored.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shaw (head) and Smith (back) appear headed for LTIR. Seabrook claims he’s fully recovered from shoulder and hip surgeries and intends to play. The Hawks have the option of demoting one or two lower-salaried players if they have a fully healthy roster. If they go the trade route they could seek a draft pick or prospect.
NHL.COM: Nicholas J. Cotsonika reports Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman will continue trying to find ways to improve his roster for 2020-21. He acknowledged his club’s restrictions in trying to improve each season, pointing out it’s not as simple as swinging trades for a bunch of good players and signing a bunch of free agents.
Yzerman, however, didn’t rule out making moves before the start of the season. He’s aiming to improve in the short term while maintaining flexibility for long-term growth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman proved last season he’s willing to use the trade market to bolster his rebuilding club. One of those moves netted Robby Fabbri, who become one of the few brights spots for the Wings amid an otherwise miserable season.
Cap Friendly indicates the Wings have over $9 million in cap space for 2020-21. If the right opportunity presents itself, Yzerman could use some of that cap room to perhaps add a player who could address some of their short and long-term needs.