NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2021
Could the struggling Blackhawks trade Marc-Andre Fleury to the Oilers? What other moves should they make this season? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill
YARDBARKER: TSN’s Chris Johnston and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have speculated over whether Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury could become a trade candidate at some point during the season.
Fleury was at the top of Friedman’s list of potential Blackhawks trade assets. He hinted Edmonton could be a trade destination during an appearance on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.
Johnston, meanwhile, expressed his view that it’s reasonable to link the 36-year-old goaltender to the Oilers during a recent podcast. “I think that they (Oilers) understand what this season means. I see them trading for a (defenseman) before the deadline and I see them getting another goaltender and that goaltender might be the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.”
Acknowledging the Oilers aren’t the only team that could use a goaltender and has a chance to be competitive, Johnston wondered if Fleury would like the idea of playing for a team as good as the Oilers look thus far this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Blackhawks looking to move Fleury at some point before the March 21 trade deadline. Whether the Oilers can land him, however, is another matter.
Fleury’s contract will be a problem for the Oilers. Cap Friendly shows them sitting over $5 million above the salary cap with Oscar Klefbom, Josh Archibald and Alex Stalock on long-term injury reserve. He carries a $7 million cap hit this season and a 10-team no-trade clause. They’ll have to shed salary or convince the Blackhawks to retain part of his cap hit to make this work.
The Oilers are already carrying Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen as their current goalie tandem. One of them will have to go to make room for Fleury. The automatic assumption would be Koskinen but he has a 15-team no-trade and a $4.5 million cap hit. He’s been playing well thus far this season but he still has a history of inconsistent performance.
The possibility of playing for the Oilers could be enticing but there’s no certainty they’re among his choice of preferred trade destinations. If they’re not, there’s no certainty he’ll waive his no-trade clause to go to Edmonton.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski suggested the Blackhawks should approach Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to determine if they wish to finish their careers in Chicago if the club goes into a full rebuild. A former NHL general manager told Wyshynski the Blackhawks should attempt to move them to a club with Stanley Cup aspirations in hope of reaping a return that can help the rebuilding process.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski duly noted both players are signed through 2022-23 with identical $10.5 million cap hits and full no-movement clauses. Nevertheless, it would be worthwhile to find out whether they’re on board with being part of a full-fledged roster rebuild. If they’re not, then they need to give management a list of preferred trade destinations.
Wyshynski believes the Blackhawks should retain Dominik Kubalik. The 26-year-old forward is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights but could be part of the solution along with young players like Alex DeBrincat and a few others. He recommends trying to move the rest of their pending free agents, including perhaps trying to ship Fleury back to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Blackhawks must also make a decision about recently acquired defenseman Seth Jones, whose eight-year, $76 million contract kicks in next season. There’s no chance they’ll recoup what they gave up to the Columbus Blue Jackets (two first-rounders, defenseman Adam Boqvist and a second-rounder). Wyshynski wondered if they could find a taker for Jones if they opt to go into a full rebuild or if he’ll become a pillar for the Blackhawks to rebuild around.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be easier to find a trade partner for Jones if he were playing as well as he did prior to last season. The ongoing decline in his performance coupled with that big contract could make him almost impossible to move.
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers report the Blackhawks aren’t in any rush to find a full-time replacement for recently fire head coach Jeremy Colliton. Derek King has taken over the role on an interim basis. Interim general manager Kyle Davidson said the club will conduct that search during the offseason.