NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2022
Should the Islanders pursue Johnny Gaudreau? What’s the latest on Jakob Chychrun? Could the Blackhawks have an interest in Petr Mrazek or Matt Murray? What’s the latest on the Oilers, Golden Knights and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD ISLANDERS TRY TO SIGN GAUDREAU?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks made the case for the New York Islanders to sign Johnny Gaudreau if the Calgary Flames left winger hits the open market on July 13. He acknowledged it would be an expensive undertaking but suggested general manager Lou Lamoriello should shed a combination of Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier to do it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need a high-scoring winger to skate alongside playmaking center Mathew Barzal. However, it’s unlikely Lamoriello will set his sights on such an expensive target as Gaudreau.
Lamoriello seems unwilling to move Varlamov. Bailey could be a cost-cutting candidate while Beauvillier becomes a trade chip to add a forward or defenseman. However, I don’t see them being part of a grand plan to land a blue-chip free agent like Gaudreau.
CHYCHRUN STAYING IN ARIZONA?
GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said not much has changed on the Jakob Chychrun trade front. He’s still willing to entertain offers but for now, he expects the 24-year-old defenseman will be returning with the Coyotes for 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, no one’s made an offer that would entice Armstrong to part with Chychrun. That could change this week leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal on Thursday and Friday.
If not, Armstrong seems content to have Chychrun in the lineup for the ’22-’23 campaign. The blueliner is under contract through 2024-25 with an affordable $4.6 million annual average value and lacks no-trade protection for the coming season.
COULD THE BLACKHAWKS TAKE ON MRAZEK OR MURRAY?
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers believe the Chicago Blackhawks could begin to address their goaltending this week. They anticipate GM Kyle Davidson could contact the Toronto Maple Leafs about Petr Mrazek or the Ottawa Senators regarding Matt Murray. He might be willing to take on one of them in exchange for draft picks and/or prospects.
Mrazek carries a $3.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two seasons. Murray is signed through 2023-24 with an AAV of $6.25 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Davidson will likely ask for a sweetener like a draft pick and/or prospect to be packaged with Mrazek or Murray. He also won’t part with a high draft pick or prospect to do this favor for the Leafs or Senators.
LATEST ON THE OILERS, CANUCKS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS AND SABRES
THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports the Edmonton Oilers are still awaiting answers from Mike Smith and Duncan Keith before free agency begins next week. Both players have a year remaining on their contracts and there’s talk they could retire. Given Smith’s injuries, it appears more likely he’ll go on long-term injury reserve for next season than retire.
Nugent-Bowman also reports winger Jesse Puljujarvi hasn’t requested a trade. It sounds as though he’d like to return with the Oilers as a top-six winger. The Oilers could ask the restricted free agent to start the season on their third line and see if he can work his way higher in the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is Smith goes on LTIR, Keith returns to finish his contract, and Puljujarvi gets traded.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps acknowledged recent trade speculation swirling about Golden Knights defenseman Nic Hague. He believes it wouldn’t be a bad thing to move him in a cost-cutting deal given their blueline depth, allowing the Golden Knights to recoup some assets in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most pundits I’ve read on the subject believe moving Hague isn’t an option at this point. However, the Golden Knights might not have much choice if they can’t find other ways to reduce their payroll before 2022-23.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Sabres signing goaltender Craig Anderson last week to a one-year deal doesn’t mean they’re done seeking help between the pipes. He anticipates they’ll sign or trade for a netminder while allowing Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen more time to develop.
Harrington doesn’t expect they’ll pursue notable UFAs such as St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Toronto’s Jack Campbell. Free-agent targets could include Dallas’ Braden Holtby, Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith or Winnipeg’s Eric Comrie. Trade options could be the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, San Jose’s James Reimer or the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted earlier, the Isles seem unwilling to move Varlamov. I think the Sharks intend to retain Reimer for the coming season. Georgiev could be a good addition if they’re looking beyond 2022-23.