NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021
Are big offseason moves in store for the Flames and Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently looked at some key offseason questions facing the Calgary Flames following a disappointing season. He wondered if Brad Treliving will return as general manager. While Treliving isn’t afraid to make big decisions, the Flames under his watch have proven incapable of winning when it matters most.
Francis feels they need an overhaul more than a roster teardown. That could involve winger Johnny Gaudreau, who is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. They cannot afford to lose him for next to nothing the way they did when they gave away Jarome Iginla.
The Flames won’t have any limitations on trading Gaudreau until July 28, when his modified no-trade clause kicks in. It won’t be easy trading him in a flat-cap era when his stock has declined.
Francis wondered if the Flames will leave defenseman Mark Giordano exposed in the expansion draft. He also downplayed the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, pointing out the Flames lack sufficient depth in star players and top prospects to make a competitive pitch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Changes are coming for the Flames. They have to. They cannot return with the same roster and expect better results.
They could replace Treliving though I suspect if they were thinking of doing so it would’ve happened by now. He’s got two more years left on his contract. They could give him at least one more year to dig his way out of this mess.
Whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer will have to make one or two moves to shake things up. Moving Gaudreau seems the most obvious move but only if there’s a decent return to be had this summer. Otherwise, it might be best to keep him for next season and see if his trade value improves.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, Flames fans, feel free to offer up your views in the comments section below.
LATEST ON THE KINGS
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott believes Kings GM Rob Blake is on the clock to transform his club into a playoff team. He’s under pressure to use his $20 million in salary-cap space and the young talent he’s accumulated and turn the Kings into a Stanley Cup contender.
Team captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty last week expressed their hope that Blake will add impact players this summer. Elliott feels he has several paths toward doing so, either via free agency, leveraging assets in trades, or targeting cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.
Blake acknowledged Doughty’s comments, adding that making the playoffs next season is a must. He also said this season provided a better understanding of where certain holes in the roster may be and the progression of some of their younger players.
THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman believes adding one or two top-six wingers for Kopitar’s line should be among the Kings’ priorities this summer. They should target clubs that risk losing a quality player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Given their prospect depth, Dillman proposed they consider shopping their first-round pick if it remains at eighth overall following the draft lottery.
They could also use some help on the left side of their defense. She suggested checking into the availability of Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm or the Carolina Hurricanes’ Jake Bean. Perhaps Vegas Golden Knights pending UFA Alec Martinez might be willing to return to the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is sitting in a good position to make a couple of significant additions. The Kings GM has five picks in the first three rounds in this year’s draft plus plenty of promising prospects to draw upon for trade bait. He can also put his cap space to good use in the trade and/or free-agent market.
The trade market could include forwards like Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and defensemen such as Ekholm, Bean or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. Free agency could feature Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston’s Taylor Hall, Colorado’s Brandon Saad and Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman.
Finding the right players, however, will be the challenge. The nightmare is wasting assets and valuable long-term cap space on players who fail to move the needle.