NHL Rumor Mill – May 31, 2021
Will the Blue Jackets trade Seth Jones this summer? Could the Blues leave Vladimir Tarasenko unprotected in the expansion draft? Will the Canucks consider shopping Nate Schmidt? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
JACKETS COULD TRADE JONES BY NHL DRAFT
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports sources said the Columbus Blue Jackets are likely to trade Seth Jones this summer, perhaps by the NHL Draft in late July. The 26-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Jones informed the Jackets he intends to test the market.
Portzline reports John Davidson, the Jackets president of hockey operations, declined to confirm Friedman’s report. However, Davidson indicated the club won’t take the same approach with Jones as they did two years ago with winger Artemi Panarin.
Panarin was due to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2018-19 season. The Jackets, however, opted to keep him throughout the season. Davidson said the club felt at that time felt they had a chance to make a run for the Stanley Cup. That’s not the case this time around.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones changes his mind, it’s clear he feels his future isn’t with the Blue Jackets. That leaves them little option but to move him this summer, rather than have his free-agent status hover over the club throughout next season.
Jones will draw plenty of interest in this summer’s trade market. Portzline expects the return will be loaded with draft picks and prospects. Rather than a reload for next season, he feels the Jackets could be heading for a rebuild.
The Jackets have witnessed a steady departure of talent over the past three years. Fairly or not, it’s given the team and the city of Columbus a reputation as a place players want to avoid. It’s up to Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to change that culture.
WILL THE BLUES EXPOSE TARASENKO IN THE EXPANSION DRAFT?
STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas recently wondered what the St. Louis Blues will do with Vladimir Tarasenko in this summer’s expansion draft. Injuries hampered the 29-year-old winger over the last two seasons, hurting his offensive production. He has two years left on his contract worth an annual average value of $7.5 million.
Tarasenko’s recent injury history and offensive struggles generated speculation outside the organization over whether they’ll expose him in the expansion draft. If the Seattle Kraken claims him, the Blues could use the salary cap savings on re-signing other key players. However, there’s the risk would regain his high-scoring form in Seattle. If he’s exposed and not claimed, it could create a rift between the winger and Blues management.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leaving Tarasenko unprotected in the expansion draft would be a bold move. According to Thomas, however, GM Doug Armstrong’s comments on the subject suggest he’s not considering that tactic.
The preference is for Tarasenko to rest and prepare for next season. If he’s healthy in 2021-22 he should return to this 30-goal form.
Blues management still believes their championship window remains open. They stand a better chance of winning the Cup with a healthy Tarasenko in the lineup.
COULD THE CANUCKS TRADE SCHMIDT?
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston suggested Nate Schmidt could become a trade candidate this summer. The 29-year-old defenseman struggled in his first season with the Vancouver Canucks. He noted there’s been trade speculation about Schmidt of late.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schmidt’s contract could make him difficult to move this summer. He has four years remaining with an annual cap hit of $5.95 million, plus a 10-team no-trade list.
However, the Golden Knights were able to trade Schmidt to the Canucks last fall in a cost-cutting move. Perhaps another club would be interested in him. While his production was down this season with the Canucks, he had three straight 30-plus point seasons in Vegas.