NHL Rumor Mill – March 21, 2023
POSSIBLE DEFENSE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE BLUE JACKETS
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes the Columbus Blue Jackets will be in the market for “a left-shot defenseman who can average 18 minutes per game, is strong defensively and kill penalties.” In other words, someone to replace Vladislav Gavrikov, who they traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline.
Portzline suggested the Boston Bruins’ Dmitry Orlov, New Jersey Devils’ Ryan Graves, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin or Dmitri Kulikov, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ian Cole or even perhaps Gavrikov as potential free-agent targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline listed his pros and cons of each defenseman. In my opinion, Orlov or Graves would be the best options. Gavrikov, too, if he doesn’t find any lucrative offers via free agency. Cole, Dumoulin and Kulikov are aging with the latter two hampered by injuries in recent years.
A NEW MARKET FOR DEFENSIVE BLUELINERS?
DAILY FACEOFF: Scott Maxwell believes the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings created a new market for defensive defensemen in Mattias Samuelsson and Mikey Anderson when they signed them last fall to long-term contract extensions.
On Sept. 10, the Kings signed Anderson, 23, to an eight-year contract with an average annual cap hit of $4.125 million. A month later, the Sabres inked the 23-year-old Samuelsson to a seven-year deal with an AAV of $4.285 million.
Maxwell believes these two are examples of how defensive blueliners have evolved over the past decade into better all-around rearguards. He noted that teams often failed to recognize the value of such defensemen until later in their careers.
There is risk involved for the Sabres and Kings investing in Samuelsson and Anderson based on their limited NHL careers thus far. However, they’re confident in their evaluations of both players that they’re willing to invest long-term in them on affordable contracts during their playing prime.
Maxwell suggested Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Cam York could fit the same mold.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granted, this isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but I think Maxwell’s on to something here. Eyebrows were raised briefly when Anderson and Samuelsson signed those contracts but they’ve since been forgotten as the focus shifted to other free-agent stories over the course of the season.
There is always a risk involved for a team to invest long-term dollars in any promising player who hasn’t yet reached their projected potential. If it works, however, the Sabres and Kings will each have a very good defensive blueliner on a cost-effective contract until they reach their early-30s.
Other general managers could attempt similar moves with comparable defensemen during this summer. It could be worth following York’s contract negotiations with the Flyers to see if they do the same thing.