NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2023
UPDATE ON JAKOB CHYCHRUN
Johnston cites Chychrun’s injury history as a reason why the Coyotes are keeping him out of the lineup for now as the March 3 trade deadline approaches while they try to work out a deal. He believes the Los Angeles Kings remain the front-runner for Chychrun, perhaps making it a bigger deal by including a goaltender. So far, however, it doesn’t sound like a deal is close.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reported that he’s heard there’s nothing close yet regarding a Chychrun trade. He claimed there’s been a snag in discussions between the Coyotes and the Kings regarding a contract that needed to be moved but they couldn’t agree. Friedman doesn’t think it was one of the principal members of the trade but an ancillary one.
Promising young Kings such as Quinton Byfield and Brandt Clarke were linked to a Chychrun trade over the weekend. However, Friedman said the Kings have made it clear they’re not moving either player. He also wondered if the Coyotes holding Chychrun out of the lineup may have re-engaged other clubs with an interest in the blueliner.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported the Coyotes could be willing to retain salary on Chychrun to facilitate a trade. The rearguard carries an average annual value of $4.6 million through 2024-25.
If the Coyotes are willing to retain salary, Seravalli believes it could help them get the asking price they’ve been seeking for Chychrun. He also believes it would interest “a whole swath of teams”.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner cited sources saying the Islanders aren’t believed to be in the running for Chychrun after trading away their 2023 first-rounder and their top prospect (Aatu Raty) to the Vancouver Canucks last month for Bo Horvat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun’s contract is considered affordable for a defenseman of his puck-moving skills. Still, retaining part of it should stir more interest in the trade market.
The rebuilding Coyotes stuck close to this season’s lower cap limit of $61 million and could do so again for the next couple of years. It wouldn’t hurt them to retain a reasonable portion of Chychrun’s cap hit if it helps them land two first-round picks and a top-prospect or a promising young NHL player.
Cal Petersen could be the goaltender Johnston was referring to when he mentioned the Kings wanting to include one in the deal. Long-time Kings starter Jonathan Quick is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July but I doubt they want to move him. They also recently signed Pheonix Copley to a one-year extension worth $1.5 million.
Petersen’s in the first season of a three-year deal with a $5 million AAV but his struggles this season have him buried in the minors. They probably want to get his contract off their books. Petersen has a 10-team no-trade clause but might not be picky over where he goes if it means he gets back to the NHL.
There’s also talk the Coyotes could agree to move goalie Karel Vejmelka for the right price. Maybe the snag is the Kings want to include him in the return but aren’t willing to meet the Coyotes’ asking price.
THE LATEST ON ERIK KARLSSON
TSN: Chris Johnston followed up on his weekend report claiming the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks were in discussions about Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. He said the two clubs are at least exploring the financial aspects of making such a deal. Karlsson’s $11.5 million AAV through 2026-27 makes it a difficult trade to pull off.
Karlsson has a full no-movement clause. He’s said he’s not thinking about waiving it unless he’s presented with something. Meanwhile, the Oilers would have to figure out which contracts to move to make room for the Sharks blueliner before determining what return to send to San Jose. If they move too many players they risk a shortened bench in a capped-out season or upsetting the team chemistry.
Defenseman Tyson Barrie ($4.5 million AAV) seems like an obvious cost-cutting trade candidate. However, Friedman said if the Oilers are going to move him it had better be for a good reason given his value this season to their blueline. “They really feel Barrie has become a big part of their framework internally and they can’t be all willy-nilly about moving him.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are so many moving parts to trading Karlsson to the Oilers that I don’t think it’s something that can be done during the regular season. Oilers general manager Ken Holland last week said his cap-strapped team is looking at “dollar-in, dollar-out” moves and that’s very difficult to pull off in order to land Karlsson.
Even with the Sharks retaining 40 percent as some suggested, the Oilers face freeing up significant cap space to make it work. It could also mean trying to pull off a three-team deal to spread the dollars around.
Anything’s possible and it would be a helluva blockbuster if the Oilers could land Karlsson before March 3. I just don’t think the Oilers are in a position to get it done. They could be forced to look for a more affordable puck-moving defenseman like Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere.
JOHN GIBSON TO THE KINGS?
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently pondered the possibility of the Anaheim Ducks trading goaltender John Gibson to the Los Angeles Kings. He noted they’ve decided to stay the course for this season with Pheonix Copley and will probably part ways with pending free agent Jonathan Quick this summer.
Duhatschek pointed out that Gibson is signed for four more years with a “manageable” AAV of $6.4 million. He felt that Gibson also has the same drive and goaltending mannerisms as Quick so it wouldn’t be that difficult of an adjustment for long-time Kings such as Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent talk of the Kings perhaps looking at moving a goalie as part of a larger deal for Chychrun suggests they want to upgrade between the pipes for the long term. They’ve seen enough of Gibson over the years to determine if he’d be a good fit or not.
I’d be surprised if the Kings pursued a deal for the Ducks netminder. If they were to show an interest in Gibson I daresay they’d want the Ducks to retain part of his cap hit. However, the Ducks would probably prefer not to carry dead cap space for four years.
FOUR TEAMS INTERESTED IN GAVRIKOV?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently said the Los Angeles Kings were interested in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov if they could land Jakob Chychrun. He also added the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ interest in Erik Karlsson indicates they’re looking more for an offensive-minded defenseman. That could take them out of the bidding for Gavrikov.