NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2022
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Due to the five days I was sidelined by Hurricane Fiona I’m forced to play catch-up regarding NHL trade and free agent speculation. Please bear with me here as I make note of the recent notable rumors plus some more recent chatter. Cheers!
BLUES, SENATORS BELIEVED INTERESTED IN CHYCHRUN
SPORTSNET: In the latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported his belief the St. Louis Blues were interested in defenseman Jakob Chychrun and could continue to monitor the 24-year-old defenseman’s status with the Arizona Coyotes.
Friedman also felt the Ottawa Senators may have had an interest in Chychrun during the summer. However, he doesn’t believe anything was close. The Coyotes liked young center Shane Pinto but the Senators aren’t willing to part with him.
Chychrun’s injury history is a concern. Friedman cited one team telling him Ryan Ellis’ situation with the Philadelphia Flyers has “sent a chill” throughout the league. Teams could be concerned about acquiring Chychrun only to have him face a potentially career-threatening injury.
GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan said Chychrun is a wild card for the Coyotes as this season approaches. He’s not sure if the sidelined blueliner will be ready in time for the start of the season or if he’ll be traded by that point.
Morgan reiterated that Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong isn’t going to sell off Chychrun at a bargain rate. If the rearguard wants to be traded he’ll have to play his way off the team.
In other words, Morgan believes teams want to see how well he performs once he returns from his injury. He also dismissed rumors out of Ottawa as he believes they’re not checking the facts in Arizona.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think there are teams looking at acquiring Chychrun who want to see how he plays this season before making a big commitment to acquire him. That’s certainly understandable given Ellis’ situation with the Flyers.
Nevertheless, I still believe those interested parties will want Armstrong to lower his asking price. I’m not saying he has to accept a pittance for a return but Chychrun’s injury history hurts his trade value.
Even if he stays healthy throughout the remainder of this season and puts up impressive numbers, I can’t see the Coyotes getting a king’s ransom in return. At some point, Armstrong might have to bend a bit to prevent this situation from becoming more of a distraction than it already is.
DUMBA BACK IN THE RUMOR MILL?
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently reported Matt Dumba’s unrestricted free agent status next summer combined with the Minnesota Wild’s limited salary-cap space for 2023-24 could lead to the 28-year-old defenseman getting traded this season. The club has a growing pool of defense prospects that could make him less enticing to retain.
Dumba carries an average annual value of $6 million but will earn $5.2 million in actual value this season. He claims to be unconcerned about the speculation over his future, pointing out he’s frequently surfaced in media trade rumors in recent years. Nevertheless, Russo suggests the defenseman could be shopped by the March 3 trade deadline if the Wild are out of the playoff race by then.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Then again, Wild GM Bill Guerin could retain Dumba as an “own rental” if he’s playing well and the Wild look poised for a deep playoff run. It will be interesting to see how his situation pans out. Unless Guerin sheds a lot of salary before July 1 to re-sign Dumba, this could be the latter’s final season in Minnesota.
WILL THE SENATORS MOVE ZAITSEV?
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren wonders if there will be spots for Nikita Zaitsev and Erik Brannstrom on the Senators’ blueline. Zaitsev, 30, struggled last season with multiple defense partners and management attempted to trade him during the summer.
Zaitsev’s remaining contract is an issue. After receiving his $2 million signing bonus this summer, he’s earning $2.5 million in actual salary. He’s due the same bonus and actual salary for 2023-24.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Warren also suggested Zaitsev could end up on waivers but I doubt a club will claim him unless it’s a team desperate to reach the cap minimum. Even then, that’s not a certainty. The combination of his struggles and salary make him difficult to move.