NHL Rumor Mill – July 12, 2023
Why haven’t Jets goalie Connor Hellebucyk and center Mark Scheifele been traded yet? Could the Oilers trade Cody Ceci? Are the Leafs adding a veteran backup? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
TRADE CANDIDATES HELLEBUYCK AND SCHEIFELE STILL WITH THE JETS
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen wonders why Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele remain with the Jets after weeks of trade speculation. Anticipation over the departures of those two was stoked after Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff traded Pierre-Luc Dubois and bought out Blake Wheeler last month.
Hellebuyck was among the most-watched players in the rumor mill following reports the 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist was eager to move on once his current contract expires next July. A finalist for the Vezina last season, the 30-year-old netminder is due for a hefty raise but he’s stuck in the gears of a flattened salary-cap machine.
TSN: Travis Yost still expects Hellebuyck to be traded this summer. He thinks some teams might be interested in the goalie as a one-year rental but most won’t act on a trade without some certainty of a contract extension. There’s also the question of how many teams are willing to invest big money in a 30-year-old netminder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The current contracts of Hellebuyck and Scheifele have played a part in the difficulty the Jets appear to have encountered in their attempts to move them. Hellebuyck carries an average annual value of $6.166 million but is being paid $7.5 million in actual salary. Scheifele, meanwhile, carries an AAV of $6.125 million with a 10-team no-trade list.
With so many teams now carrying less than $6 million in cap space, finding a suitable trade partner is difficult. Factor in the return the Jets will seek for either guy and it’s become more difficult to pull off a trade.
That doesn’t mean one or both won’t be playing elsewhere when training camps open in September. It just means Cheveldayoff will have to work harder to swing a deal.
COULD THE OILERS TRADE CECI?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Michael DeRosa speculates the Edmonton Oilers could part ways with Cody Ceci before the start of the 2023-24 regular season. The Oilers have been looking for a top-four right-shot defenseman this summer, which could make Ceci expendable.
The Oilers would need to move out Ceci’s $3.25 million cap hit. DeRosa lists the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes as possible trade destinations. All three are rebuilding clubs that could use some experienced depth on defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could depend on how much it costs the Oilers to re-sign restricted free-agent blueliner Evan Bouchard. They have $5.6 million in cap space with 20 active roster players under contract.
Ceci is signed through 2024-25. That could give him some value for clubs seeking a right-shot defenseman signed beyond this season.
ELLIOTT TO THE LEAFS?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently speculated Brian Elliott could be heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer. The 38-year-old goalie spent the past two seasons as a backup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs currently have goalies Matt Murray and Joseph Woll under contract for 2023-24. Restricted free agent Ilya Samsonov is expected to be re-signed before his scheduled arbitration hearing on July 21. I anticipate the Leafs will go into next season with a Samsonov-Woll tandem.
Murray is reportedly being shopped but could be bought out once Samsonov is under contract. If they sign Elliott it’ll likely be to a cheap one-year contract that could see him playing in the minors.