Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 11, 2021
An update on the Matthew Tkachuk speculation, the Sharks are reportedly open for business, and a look at possible Coyotes trade bait in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LATEST ON MATTHEW TKACHUK
THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian recently weighed in on the trade speculation swirling about Matthew Tkachuk this summer. One rumor linked the Calgary Flames winger was linked to St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.
The Flames firmly denied Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary and a return to his hometown of St. Louis. Salvian also cited colleague Jeremy Rutherford indicating sources saying the Blues had an interest in Tkachuk but it would take more than Tarasenko to pry him away from the Flames. That’s if Tarasenko would waive his no-trade clause to go to Calgary.
Tkachuk struggled through this season. However, Salvian attributed that performance to a combination of multiple injuries and his inability to train with Gary Roberts in Toronto during the offseason because of the border restrictions related to the pandemic. She anticipates a bounce-back effort by the 23-year-old winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors cited by Salvian would certainly account for Tkachuk’s difficulties throughout this season. Given his previous strong performances and his youth, the Flames would be understandably reluctant to part with him.
Tkachuk’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. Both sides could be waiting to see how this season shakes out before negotiating a long-term deal. He’s entering the third season of a three-year, $21 million contract. He’ll earn $9 million in actual salary this season, which could be what he’ll seek as an annual average value on his next deal.
SHARKS SHOPPING LEBANC
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports multiple sources said the San Jose Sharks are ramping up trade talks with other clubs. Kevin Labanc, Radim Simek and Dylan Gambrell are being dangled as the Sharks seek a “hockey trade” in which they get players in return. They’re also hoping to land draft picks. General manager Doug Wilson wants to upgrade his goaltending and add a third-line center.
Labanc would be their best trade chip in this group. Wilson felt he had 60-point potential but he got bumped out of the top six by head coach Bob Boughner. He tallied 28 points in 55 games this season and netted a career-high 56 points in 2018-19. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.725 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Lebanc’s production could be tied to the change in the Sharks’ system under Boughner. He tallied six points in 10 games for Team USA at this year’s World Championships. Perhaps playing with a deeper club or one with a more offensive style would be better suited to his type of game. His contract could be an issue with the cap remaining flattened for 2021-22.
POTENTIAL COYOTES TRADE BAIT
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recommends teams contact the Arizona Coyotes if they’re seeking a trade or free-agent bargain. He doesn’t anticipate they’ll be in buy mode this summer despite carrying $30 million in cap space due to reported money challenges.
Potential bargains could include restricted free agent winger Conor Garland. A June 23 report by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli indicated not much communication between Garland’s agent and management after they exchanged contract proposals. Center Christian Dvorak was mentioned by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman as a possible trade target. He’s signed for four more years at an annual cap hit of $4.45 million.
Pending UFA options include goaltender Antti Raanta and defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers. O’Brien also recommends teams avoid trading for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Phil Kessel, citing cap hit and declining performance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Bill Armstrong completed his first season on the job. He could be planning some significant changes after evaluating his club’s performance. We know they’re shopping Ekman-Larsson and it’s believed they could be willing to move Kessel. Finding suitable trade partners, however, could be difficult, especially if the Coyotes aren’t willing to retain salary.
Garland, 25, is completing a two-year, $1.55 million contract. Even if he gets a raise to $4 million annually it would be an affordable signing. The question is whether Armstrong sees Garland as a long-term part of the roster or if he’d prefer building up with younger players. The same applies to Dvorak.