NHL Rumor Mill – January 28, 2023
THE LATEST ON LARKIN, GAVRIKOV AND ELLER
Khan believes trading Larkin would set back the Red Wings’ rebuild. They’re more likely to get futures (a young player, prospect, draft picks) than a player who could have an immediate impact.
Communication between Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and Larkin’s agent, Pat Brisson, has been good, with both sides talking regularly. Khan writes that the two sides have agreed on the maximum eight-year term but remain apart on the average annual value. The Wings prefer $8 million while the Larkin camp seeks $9 million.
Larkin’s next contract would also affect other contracts. Khan reports they’d like to bring in a top-line scoring center and believes they could be among the teams pursuing Bo Horvat if the Vancouver Canucks captain hits the open market on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Larkin gets shopped by the March 3 trade deadline even if he remains unsigned or the Wings are out of playoff contention by that point. It wouldn’t be surprising if both sides compromise on a figure between $8 million and $9 million per season.
The Wings have over $41 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 so there’s plenty of room for Larkin’s new contract. However, they must also re-sign or replace fellow UFAs like Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter, Adam Erne Oskar Sundqvist, Olli Maatta and Alex Nedeljkovic.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger recently reported the Blue Jackets are exploring trade scenarios involving defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. The club has granted permission for rival teams to speak with him and his agent.
Gavrikov, 27, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He carries an affordable $2.8 million cap hit for this season. Hedger indicated a scenario exists where the Jackets could match the best contract offer for Gavrikov generated through those trade discussions.
Hedger believes the long Gavrikov goes without a new contract the more likely he’ll be traded. The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs have emerged as potential trade destinations. It’s believed the Jackets will seek a first and a third-round pick in return. If Gavrikov gets a contract extension from a rival club, it could increase the return to the Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading away Gavrikov could also ensure the Blue Jackets finish dead last in the overall standings by season’s end. That would improve their odds of winning the 2023 draft lottery and securing the rights to top prospect Connor Bedard.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Eric Duhatschek reporting Capitals center Lars Eller has come up in the rumor mill. They suggest he could be used as a trade chip to add a defenseman. Duhatschek speculated the Los Angeles Kings as a destination as they’re deep on the right side of their blueline and could part with Sean Walker or Matt Roy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will also depend on how long Capitals defenseman John Carlson remains sidelined. Silber also mentioned that winger Anthony Mantha has been the odd man out this season. The Capitals might prefer moving Mantha over Eller.
UPDATES ON THE SHARKS AND KRAKEN
The Sharks have other pending UFAs in forward Nick Bonino and goaltender James Reimer who could draw interest in the trade market leading up to the March 3 deadline. Winger Timo Meier could also attract plenty of attention if Grier decides to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bonino and Reimer seem likely to be playing elsewhere on March 3. Meier could be shopped but he’s a restricted free agent this summer. If Grier didn’t receive sufficient offers, he can simply wait until the offseason to peddle him.
SEATTLE HOCKEY INSIDER: Rob Simpson examined possible trade chips for the Kraken if GM Ron Francis becomes a buyer at the trade deadline.
Simpson believes the Kraken’s priorities will be shoring up their depth on defense and at center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis could put more emphasis on using those draft picks as trade bait rather than draw from his shallow prospect pool.