NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2022
Could the Jets have traded Mark Scheifele if they had signed Pierre-Luc Dubois to a long-term contract? Did they attempt to move Blake Wheeler? Find out plus the latest on Jake Virtanen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST JETS SPECULATION
Dubois, 24, was a restricted free agent earlier this summer with arbitration rights. He agreed to accept a one-year, $6 million offer from the Jets.
Ates observed Scheifele “looked disengaged defensively” and “sounded deeply frustrated” by season’s end. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024 and will be 31 by that point. Dubois is also eligible to become a UFA in 2024.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois became a fixture in the rumor mill for several weeks earlier in the offseason after his agent suggested his client might one day hope to join his hometown Montreal Canadiens. Dubois also attended the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal back in July, sparking speculation suggesting he was going to be traded to the Canadiens but the deal fell through.
Dubois denied all of this in the press conference on July 25 announcing his new one-year contract, stressing that if he wanted out of Winnipeg he would’ve asked for a trade but that thought never crossed his mind. His name hasn’t surfaced in the rumor mill since then but it’s probably only a matter of time if the Jets struggle again this season.
Scheifele downplayed his remarks several weeks following the end of the regular season as did general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. Perhaps playing under new head coach Rick Bowness will provide Scheifele with the spark that seemed to be missing last season. Another sub-par effort on his part, however, will bring the trade rumors roaring back.
Meanwhile, Ates said it was his understanding the Jets looked into trading Blake Wheeler. However, his $8.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 proved too cumbersome to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler is another forward worth watching under Bowness’ coaching this season. The 36-year-old Jets captain struggled with consistency last season and is at the stage in his career where a decline in skills is inevitable.
His age as much as his hefty cap hit makes him very tough to move in the trade market. The Jets would have to retain a big chunk of his contract to make him more enticing to rival clubs.
UPDATE ON JAKE VIRTANEN
YAHOO! SPORTS: Thomas Hall cited Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer reporting the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals are believed to have expressed an interest in signing Jake Virtanen to a professional tryout offer.
Virtanen, 26, spent six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks from 2015-16 to 2020-21 until bought out of his contract after he was accused of sexual assault. He spent last season in the KHL and in July was found not guilty in a British Columbia court.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen’s personal issues aside, I wonder why there are NHL teams interested in his services? He was a disappointment as a Canuck and managed just 16 points in 36 games in the KHL.