NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2022
Could the Rangers and Canadiens pursue Pierre-Luc Dubois? What’s the latest on J.T. Miller and Filip Forsberg? Are the Oilers poised to trade Jesse Puljujarvi? Who could the Senators buy out? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
RANGERS OR CANADIENS INTERESTED IN DUBOIS?
SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe cites a report by Francois Gagnon of RDS linking the New York Rangers to Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 23-year-old restricted free agent center has told the Winnipeg Jets of his intention to test the unrestricted free agent market when he becomes eligible in 2024.
The Rangers and Jets have reportedly held conversations about Dubois. Rangers general manager Chris Drury is said to be very interested in him. They were also believed to have an interest in Jets center Mark Scheifele to give them a solid one-two punch at center with Mika Zibanejad.
Wiebe believes any deal would have to include discussions regarding young Rangers such as Filip Chytil, wingers Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko and defenseman Braden Schneider. He also indicated the Montreal Canadiens as also having an interest in Dubois.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To be clear, Wiebe isn’t saying the Rangers must ship all those players to the Jets for Dubois. He means at least one of them will have to be part of the trade package.
Wiebe isn’t suggesting a deal is imminent, suggesting this could be simply to stoke a bidding war for Dubois. He said the Jets’ primary objective remains signing the center to a one-year contract and then attempting to convince him to rethink his long-term plans. Still, it doesn’t hurt to investigate Dubois’ value in the trade market for future reference if he remains adamant about moving on in 2024.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is against the Rangers pursuing Dubois, suggesting it may have been the Jets calling the Rangers to check into their interest given their trade history. He believes Dubois will command a substantial raise (seven years, $50 million) on the open market, casting doubt over how the Blueshirts can squeeze him into their already tight salary-cap payroll. Brooks also doesn’t want to see them part with Chytil following his promising performance in the recent postseason.
As for the Canadiens, maybe they surprise us by offering up a package of draft picks (excluding the first-overall pick), one or two prospects or a prospect and a good young NHL player not named Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield to the Jets. Dubois is rumored to be eager to join the Canadiens as a free agent in two years’ time. If so, it would be worthwhile for the Habs to simply remain patient and wait for Dubois’ availability in 2024. Then it’s only costing money and not assets as well.
LATEST ON J.T. MILLER
CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported a source told him there are reports the Vancouver Canucks are listening to trade offers for J.T. Miller. The 29-year-old center is a year away from UFA eligibility. He also indicated Miller’s representatives aren’t surprised by those reports.
Dhaliwal said the two sides remain far apart in contract talks. He cited one source claiming the Canucks have been entertaining offers for Miller since February.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal suggested a contract comparable for Miller is the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad, who’s starting an eight-year, $68 million deal ($8.5 million annual average value) in 2022-23. That could prove too expensive for the Canucks, which would explain the growing chatter about Miller in the rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox suggests Miller could be the “optimal big-splash target for the Toronto Maple Leafs” if they’re willing to go for it. He acknowledged it would be a risky move, especially with Leafs GM Kyle Dubas being reluctant to acquire players without term. Still, he thinks the Leafs have the trade assets to tempt the Canucks. Fox believes it would be worthwhile to acquire a forward such as Miller to address their needs right now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see them pursuing Miller. The Leafs already have enough depth on the top-two lines. Their biggest need is a reliable starting goaltender if Jack Campbell departs via free agency.
UPDATE ON FILIP FORSBERG
Dollars might be the holdup as the Forsberg camp is reportedly seeking an annual average value somewhere in the low $8 million range as reported by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. Estes also speculates another snag could be a no-trade clause as Poile as a rule doesn’t hand those out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal cited Forsberg’s agent acknowledging they’re not there yet on the money but both sides continue to grind away at it. There’s a reasonable chance Forsberg remains with the Predators as long as those negotiations continue over the next two weeks.
OILERS CLOSE TO TRADING PULJUJARVI?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Oilers insider Tom Gazzola reporting he’s been told Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi is on his way out of Edmonton. It appears both sides are comfortable with the idea that it’s time to move on.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He has shown flashes of offensive talent over the past couple of seasons but it just seems that things aren’t getting better after five seasons with the Oilers.
Maybe Puljujarvi can reach his offensive potential with another club. If there’s a decent return to be had, the Oilers should consider it.
POTENTIAL SENATORS BUYOUT CANDIDATES
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch observed the first buyout window opens on July 1 until 5 pm ET on July 12. It’s believed Senators management is considering going that route. He believes forward Colin White is their top buyout candidate. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto is another. Goaltender Matt Murray has been mentioned but Garrioch doesn’t think that’s going to happen.
The Senators are still listening to offers regarding their first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft. GM Pierre Dorion is in the market for a top-four defenseman and a high-end winger.
Garrioch said the Montreal Canadiens have been calling teams with picks in the top-10 to see what it would take to nab one. There’s also talk the Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks are willing to take on contracts if a draft pick is added as a sweetener. He thinks it wouldn’t be surprising if Senators defenseman Nikita Zaitsev was moved that way.