NHL Rumor Mill – June 21, 2021
HAMILTON CAMP TALKING TO OTHER NHL CLUBS
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reported Saturday it sounds like there’s a lot of conversations between agent J.P. Barry (who represents Dougie Hamilton) and other NHL clubs. The 28-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.
Hamilton and his agent have been granted permission by the Hurricanes to speak with other teams on a deal that could work into a sign-and-trade situation. However, Johnston gets the feeling this won’t be resolved quickly, suggesting it could take several weeks, perhaps close to the July 28 start date of free agency.
Luke Fox suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs should at least consider attempting to acquire Hamilton. Doing so, however, could mean trading away Morgan Rielly to free up sufficient salary-cap space to sign Hamilton to a long-term contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Next month’s NHL expansion draft (July 21) is probably a big reason why a possible sign-and-trade scenario for Hamilton would take weeks. The acquiring club would have to include him on their player protection list.
If the Leafs aren’t trading any of their high-priced forwards, trading Rielly seems the most logical way to clear cap space to sign Hamilton. Slated to become a UFA next summer, Rielly will seek a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.
That might not be the best move on the Leafs part. They would get deeper on the right side of their blueline by signing Hamilton, but moving out Rielly leaves a big gap on the left side.
THE LATEST ON EKMAN-LARSSON
AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan confirms reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes will explore trade options for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 29-year-old defenseman is also more open to that possibility compared to last fall when he was willing to waive his no-movement clause for only the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks.
Ekman-Larsson has six more seasons left on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.25 million. Morgan points out the blueliner’s performance has declined over the past several seasons. A change of scenery might do him good after years of losing in Arizona and carrying the burden of the captaincy.
Morgan indicated Ekman-Larsson has not provided the Coyotes with a list of preferred trade destinations. However, the plan is for the club to seek whatever trade option are available and present them to the defenseman’s camp to see what ones are acceptable. The Coyotes could look for comparable contracts that other clubs are trying to move. Perhaps some of those could have a little less term. They could also retain part of his salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Ekman-Larsson’s contract wouldn’t be easy under normal circumstances. It could be more difficult under a flattened salary cap this summer.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Coyotes can work something out. Retaining part of his salary could be more enticing for other clubs, but it still means the Coyotes would be carrying that portion for six more years.
COULD RISTOLAINEN BRING MORE PHYSICALITY TO PENGUINS BLUELINE?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski suggested Rasmus Ristolainen as a possible trade target for the Pittsburgh Penguins to add a physical defenseman to their blueline. The 26-year-old rearguard impressed Kingerski with his play against the Penguins this season, especially on Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.
Kingerski speculates offering up a second-round draft pick, plus more, could get it done, or perhaps a team could get away with a solid prospect. The New Jersey Devils are also said to be interested in Ristolainen, who wouldn’t object to getting traded.
The Penguins would need to clear some cap space for Ristolainen’s $5.4 million cap hit. However, they could get some relief from the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins management made it clear during the season and after the playoffs that they’re looking to add more size and grit to their lineup. Ristolainen could help but they could also have other options in mind.