NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2023
LATEST ON HELLEBUYCK AND SCHEIFELE
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck looked at the prospect of the Jets trading goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and center Mark Scheifele if unable to sign them to contract extensions this summer. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July.
Hellebuyck projects to be the Jets’ best trade chip as he could fetch a significant return if they rebuild or intend to retool on the fly. Possible trade destinations could include the Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings.
From the Kings, the Jets could look at Sean Durzi and Gabe Vilardi along with prospects like defenseman Brandt Clarke and Francesco Pinelli. Peyton Krebs, goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and prospect Matthew Savoie or a first-round pick could be the Jets’ asking price from the Sabres.
The Jets could want Shane Pinto as part of the return from the Senators. Jesper Bratt of the Devils is a great player but the winger wouldn’t help the Jets down the middle. As for the Wings, maybe an offer of prospect center Marco Kasper, goalie Ville Husso and the ninth-overall pick in this year’s draft might entice the Jets to listen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltenders don’t usually have great value in the trade market but Hellebuyck could be an exception to that rule. The 29-year-old goaltender is in his playing prime. He won the 2019 Vezina Trophy and is a finalist for the award this season.
Turning to Scheifele, he could be the hardest player for Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to part with. Drafted in 2011 by Cheveldayoff, Scheifele’s become the face of the franchise. However, it may be necessary if the Jets seek a fresh start.
The Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames are Billeck’s suggested trade partners. He suggested pursuing defenseman Brandon Carlo and winger Jake DeBrusk from the Bruins, Seth Jarvis or Martin Necas and Brett Pesce from the Hurricanes, prospect center Marco Kasper or the 2023 ninth-overall pick from the Red Wings or perhaps a straight-up swap of Elias Lindholm with the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele’s coming off a career-best 42-goal performance this season. However, his production has been inconsistent since reaching a career-high 84 points in 2018-19 and that could adversely affect his value in the trade market. He will attract interest in the trade market but the offers might not be as lucrative as hoped.
SENATORS OPEN TO ALL OPTIONS WITH DEBRINCAT
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said his club is prepared to discuss an eight-year contract extension with winger Alex DeBrincat. However, the 25-year-old restricted free agent hasn’t made a decision on his future.
It will cost the Senators $9 million to qualify DeBrincat’s rights for 2023-24. Dorion indicated he’s had preliminary talks with the winger’s agent. The club could take him to arbitration to try and take as much as 15 percent off his salary. He also said that the Senators might have to consider trading DeBrincat if he’s not interested in signing with them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators acquired DeBrincat during the first round of last year’s draft. They could peddle him during this year’s draft in Nashville on June 28-29 if not sooner if there’s no contract agreement in sight by then. Expect to see his name appear more frequently in the rumor mill in the coming weeks.
COULD CAUFIELD RECEIVE AN OFFER SHEET THIS SUMMER?
RDS.CA: Darren Dreger doesn’t believe the Montreal Canadiens face any real threat of Cole Caufield receiving an offer sheet if he’s still unsigned on July 1. The 22-year-old left winger is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.
Dreger believes the Canadiens are in a good position on this issue. He thinks they’ll match any offer if another team is crazy enough to go that route. He also said that he hasn’t heard anything about another club being a threat to do so.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming Caufield is willing to sign an offer sheet, a large number of clubs can’t afford to send him one. Cap Friendly indicates 14 teams have less than $10 million in cap space. Another five have less than $15 million. Of the clubs that have more cap room, most face significant investments in their own talent.
There’s also the matter of compensation. It could take an offer sheet worth $10 million annually to have a reasonable chance of deterring the Canadiens from matching. The compensation in that case is two first-rounders, a second and a third. Most teams can afford to pay that price. If anyone’s crazy enough to offer $10.8 million, the compensation is four first-rounders.
Cynics will point to the Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi in 2021 but that was a different situation. The Canadiens had less cap flexibility at that time and the price of signing Kotkaniemi in terms of contract and compensation wasn’t as expensive as it will be for Caufield.
An offer sheet is also possible but they remain rare occurrences. If it happens, I think the targets would be more affordable, lesser-talented players than Caufield.