NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2022

by | Jan 4, 2022 | Rumors | 34 comments

The latest Oilers and Canadiens speculation plus updates on Jakob Chychrun and Ryan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers’ recent struggles prompted Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman to muse about whether it’s time for the club to make a trade to avoid falling out of postseason contention. Friedman believes missing the playoffs isn’t an option for them this season.

Goaltending is a concern with aging Mike Smith frequently sidelined. Their left-side defense and forward depth are also concerns. Friedman believes there will be sensible moves out there for the Oilers involving teams that aren’t that good looking to make moves that don’t have to involve parting with a first-round pick for a rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman believes Oilers general manager Ken Holland must move on from backup goalie Mikko Koskinen, either by recalling Stuart Skinner and giving him more starts or making a trade.

Finding a suitable option in the current trade market, however, is easier said than done. The pickings are very slim right now as clubs that could become sellers aren’t in any hurry to make moves right now.

The Dallas Stars attempted to move struggling Anton Khudobin last month but couldn’t find any takers and would up demoting him to the minors. There’s also no certainty the 35-year-old goalie will waive his no-trade clause to come to Edmonton.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (NHL Images).

Speaking of sellers, Marek and Friedman also pondered what moves could be in store for the Montreal Canadiens before the March 21 trade deadline. Defenseman Ben Chiarot is an unrestricted free agent this summer and could fetch a late first-round pick.

They wondered if management will approach Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher to determine if a parting of the ways is best for both sides if a rebuild is a plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of Canadiens executive VP of hockey ops Jeff Gorton and whoever he hires as the new general manager meeting with Price and Gallagher to discuss their futures. Trading either guy, however, probably won’t happen until the offseason.

Both players carry hefty contracts with several years remaining on them. Price has a full no-movement clause while Gallagher carries a six-team no-trade list.

Price has yet to play this season as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery and mental health issues that saw him spend a month in the NHL-NHLPA player assistance program at the start of the season. Gallagher, meanwhile, has had his own injury woes as he struggles through the worst season of his career.


Friedman believes the first big trade of 2022 will involve Jakob Chychrun. The 23-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman carries an affordable $4.6 million annual average value for three more seasons. He is usually the type of player a rebuilding club prefers to retain but he could fetch the Coyotes a significant return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors before Christmas suggested the Coyotes could seek four assets for Chychrun but interested parties weren’t put off by that high asking price. We’ll find out in the coming weeks if Friedman’s prediction comes true.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson will be interested to see what the New York Rangers do with Ryan Strome. The 27-year-old second-line center skates alongside winger Artemi Panarin but is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Matheson notes Strome currently makes $4.5 million annually, which is low for a second-line center. He draws a comparison to former Rangers center Kevin Hayes, who signed a seven-year deal for $7.1 million annually with the Philadelphia Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have reportedly held preliminary contract talks with Strome. If he uses Hayes as a comparable the Blueshirts could balk but that will leave them shopping around for a replacement in the offseason.


  1. IF (big IF) Price agrees to waive….IMHO It will be for a very short list of teams, and MUST have 50% retention (or even more via a to-through trade team)…… it’s not the $32 M he’s owed… it’s the $10.5 M per in Cap

    First he has to return, AND play up to his abilities, then there needs to be suitors with $5 + M (after retention) in space; that he’d agree to go to

    In a parallel quandary ….. Oil m IMVHO, must upgrade from Koskinen….. obviously the Flower would be great for them….. does he have Oil blocked; does Koski have BlackHawks blocked? What would be the ask from Hawks?

    As a Pens fan I would love for MAF to come back “home”…. But Pens would certainly be outbid by Oil

    • Pengy.
      I love MAF but we dont need yo keep revisiting a Fluery back to Pens.

      We need another Rhd and there are guys out there.

      Justin Holl. LEafs
      Josh Manson Ducks
      Colin Miller. SAbres
      Victor Mete. Senators good young skater passer not too physical still take him over rudwhedel..although rudwhedel has been pretty solid. But???

      A back up goalie.

      Just hope Malkin doesnt screw up the good team structure and team play with his selfish play

  2. Maybe Holland needs to threaten to waive Koskinen in order to trade him and his cap hit. Trading Koskinen + Kassian for MAF would match salaries, obviously a good pick or prospect would have to accompany K and K……..Not ideal.

    • Hi JZ

      Will cost a first for sure to flip Koski for MAF

  3. Pengy. Agree Price not going anywhere until he gets back in games. And teams will want full disclosure on the “mental health” issues. Gorton went through this with Lundqvist.

    • Good point re Gorton and King Hank

  4. As much as I dislike Strome, he’s had a couple of good games in a row with Panarin out of lineup. Still, I just can’t see him getting 6-7 mil per. Gorgiev has come back and raised his value. Great game vs Oilers last night. Hmmmm. Was Holland watching?

    • @Slick
      Center depth is not good. Chytil does everything except see the game.
      As a Ranger fan I have to hope Strome takes 3×6

      • He’s on pace for a 70 point season.

        He’s averaging .86 points per game right now, he’s averaged .84, .86 over the prior 2 seasons.

        What do you think is realistic?

        6-7 would be a bargain at that production.

        When they slap him in the mouth at 5 per, what’s the back up plan?

        Side note, does Strome run over Ranger fan kitties in his spare time?

      • Sorry, .875 per game last year. .84 prior year.

      • Ya Captain, not much love for the guy in NY. That trade makes Gorton look great, or Chiarelli look brutal. One of the more lopsided deals in the last decade.

        Not like he doesn’t come with high upside, was drafted 5th overall if I recall.

        Bruins could use him if Rags don’t need him.

      • ds. Rangers have bottom 6 center depth. If they lock into Strome for 3 years, there’ll be no space to upgrade in future if someone becomes available. Strome has never scored 20 goals, or hit 60 points. He’s hit 50 twice. He’ll be 29 this summer. Sure, if he’s a proven 70 point guy maybe he’d get 7m, but I don’t think anyone banks on that

      • To put things in perspective, Strome is 20th in the NHL for pts per game among C’s from the beginning of 19/20 until today. 2.3 seasons so not a small sample size. I removed the guys with only a few games, so everyone over 50 games played.

        Almost every good C has some decent winger(s). Bergy has Marchand and Pasta and is just above Strome in pts per game.

        Who you gonna get to upgrade that and what would it cost?

        I hope they let him go and he can play with Hall or Pasta in Boston.

      • Ray,

        The guy could score 7 goals, 6 assists and a cup clenching goal, win the hart, art Ross, Con Smythe and there will still be people cheering to trade him for a lesser / project player. Bizarre.

        He’s 29th in scoring over the last 3 years in the nhl among all players, yet you’d think he was a guy struggling in the AHL.


        The Rangers don’t have anything remotely close in centers within the organization. And who are they signing that puts out that production under 7-8 million?

        Similar production to Tavares, Nylander , M. Tkachuck,Point, Stamkos but not worth 6 per?

  5. I believe Montreal may hire a GM soon so that they can sell off a few players for futures. It is time to start the purge! LOL

  6. Maybe all that Holland can do is bury Koskinen in the minors and trade assets for a stop-gap goalie. Griess, Forsberg, and Elliott are rentals that could cost a 2nd or a 3rd….. If San Jose flounders, Reimer may be an option. And then there is Kudobin…… Driedger from the Krack.

    • Hi JZ

      Burying is a valid idea , but only $1.08 M can be buried (and one less roster spot… with league min Cap at $700 K…. True cap savings only $308 K)

      They need to trade him; just like Pens need to trade Zucker

    • Perhaps a trade of Koskinen to the Devils. Bernier can be put on LTIR for year, so almost flat salary move for Devs. Perhaps a second as a sweetener or something else?

  7. When Rask resign maybe there is a deal to be made for Linus Ullmark.

    I don’t see Rask signing just for this season and Swayman can do the backup.

    Ullmark has a nmc but might be willing to move it to be a number 1 and not a back up.

    • Ya Caper, not sure what Holland will do, but has a history of being patient. Methinks they recall Skinner and let him run with it playing 2 out of 3 to at very least buy some time and play Koskinen less and see what happens with Smith who is out again, so likely wasn’t ready to begin with.

      Right now he would over pay huge for a tender, unless you get another struggling one back, but what’s the point of that?

      Need to wait to closer to the TDL and teams understand that is the best they will get for the pending UFA.

      Heard an interesting Oiler stat this AM – 1st 22 games .918 SV%, last 12 games .867 sv %. Koskinen played most of the first 22, and most of the last 12. First in standings to clinging to a wildcard.

      Methinks Holland is watching very closely to how this team responds before spending valuable assets. They need to rally, and pretty darn quick.

    • Make that move ASAP,get out from underneath s 35 contract.Add Debrusk to it and make a meaningful trade.Throw in a high draft pick and ask for RNH back.

    • Can’t see them sending RNH back Steve plus he has a full NMC. As does Ullmark right now.

      Ullmark has been really good of late. Like real good. After a tough start to season.

      IMO it depends on what Rask will sign for and term. If he wants to go year to year, or BOS does with an older tender coming off a significant surgery, can’t see how you move Ullmark.

      We all think Swayman could be a good one, but send him down and let him play plenty of games, and see where this goes. And how Rask does coming back.

      If all looks good at TDL have the chat with Ullmark I suppose, but you just signed him and gave him a NMC, so not sure it happens, in fact pretty sure it doesn’t happen. But been wrong before.

  8. Maybe the Oilers should consider moving someone like a high paid forward for two good players to fortify offense and defense.
    The team cannot sucked with two or 3 players scoring and doing all the work.

  9. Succeed

    • you were right the first time …

      • Now that’s funny.

  10. Trouble in net, D and forward depth. That seems to cover everything wrong with the Oilers.

  11. Could SJ trade Reimer + Kane ($2M retained) for Koskinen + Kassian + 2023 3rd . Bad boy and bad player crossing in the night flight…LOL Kane could nix this but he might rather play in the NHL and this would put him there.

  12. Wouldn’t trade for Georgiev
    Ullmark for Koskinen straight up. Ullmark has been better than perception but if Rask signs for 2-3…..? Koskinen is UFA so bruins gets out of contract and oil gets a good goalie. Ullmark says no?

    • Koskinen’s a bum

  13. Some weeks ago, an Edmonton sportswriter devoted an article to Koskinen’s defense, citing numbers that showed his performance was close to the league average for goalies, despite the fact that the high-danger-zone chances the Oilers had allowed were well above the league average.

    As Ray mentions above, Koskinen’s numbers may have changed somewhat since then, but the barrage of opponent’s shots doesn’t seem to have. One has to wonder if Carey Price would look good under such duress.

    Perhaps, the Oilers need a change in philosophy more than a change of players. There are teams more disadvantaged than the Oilers that are above the Oilers in the league standings. Has anyone noticed that Nashville has moved up to ninth in the league?

    • Then the Oilers should be hot and heavy on a LD upgrade. Chariot would be the obvious choice as Chychrun is too expensive. Give Montreal a 2023 1st + Yamamoto for Chariot and a 2023 2nd and have a deal with Big Ben for a 3 x 3.75M contract before trading.

      • Good choice, I think!

        If Chiarot were an Oiler now. he’d be first among their defensemen in blocked shots, and second to Nurse in hits–both things that limit opponent high-danger-zone scores.

        I’s be nervous over your price tag, though.

  14. Gallagher for Koskinen if Edmonton would trade draft picks, I would even get into Chairot added for Ceci/Barrie/Kassian salary if Edmonton wants to get deeper into picks/prospects to help in a few areas this year. Perrault could also go to Edmonton as an add in as cheap contract depth. There may be a few other forwards for Edmonton to consider instead of Gallagher but Montreal might be a team to talk with if Montreal can retain some salary and Edmonton risks trading some good picks.