NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2022
LASTEST OILERS AND CANADIENS SPECULATION
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.
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.
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.
UPDATES ON CHYCHRUN AND STROME
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.