NHL Rumor Mill – July 18, 2023
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke Decock reports the Carolina Hurricanes had a busy start to July but rumors have died down since then. Their last addition was signing winger Brendan Lemieux on July 11 and things could remain unchanged.
The Hurricanes had a proposed deal in place with the Philadelphia Flyers to reacquire defenseman Tony DeAngelo but it was blocked over salary-cap circumvention concerns. It was placed on the back burner after the Hurricanes signed free-agent blueliner Dmitry Orlov. DeAngelo has since become a free agent after being bought out last week by the Flyers but the Hurricanes have not spoken with his agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think we can rule out the possibility of DeAngelo coming back to the Hurricanes.
They’ve been linked to Vladimir Tarasenko but their interest in the unrestricted free-agent winger has cooled. They continue to monitor Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson but their limited cap space would make it difficult to acquire the San Jose Sharks defenseman unless they make another trade first.
The Hurricanes are also working on finalizing an eight-year contract extension for center Sebastian Aho. They face decisions on winger Teuvo Teravainen and defensemen Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei, who are a year away from UFA eligibility.
Decock considers it unlikely or prudent that the Canes will go into 2023-24 with those three still in limbo. Nevertheless, general manager Don Waddell is not yet facing any time pressure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Karlsson would likely mean parting ways with a defenseman, most likely a right-side defender like Pesce. Speaking of whom…
THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman listed five clubs that could or should be interested in Brett Pesce if the Hurricanes opt to trade the 28-year-old blueliner. They include the Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pesce carries a $4.025 million cap hit for 2023-24 plus a list of 15 preferred trade destinations. At least one of the aforementioned clubs could be on that list.
Assuming Pesce would accept a trade to those five teams, salary-cap constraints hamper the Leafs, Stars, and Oilers. They’d have to shed salary in a cost-cutting deal to free up room for him. The Hurricanes could be reluctant to take on a player in return if they’re trying clear space for another move.
The Sabres have the cap room but it could get tricky if they want to keep Pesce beyond this season. They must ensure they’ll have sufficient room once they get Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power signed to their long-term extensions. They also recently signed Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton, leaving them with eight defensemen on one-way NHL contracts. Power is on his entry-level contract which is a two-way deal but he’s not going to be buried in the minors following his solid rookie performance last season.
Meanwhile, the Predators have the cap space and the depth in tradeable assets. First-year GM Barry Trotz has shown a willingness to make bold moves. Perhaps he’ll pursue Pesce if the opportunity presents itself.
CAN THE ISLANDERS AFFORD TARASENKO?
Signing the 31-year-old winger, however, would mean having to free up some cap room. He reportedly rejected offers between $5.5 million and $6 million before changing agents.
Sears believes Jean-Gabriel Pageau would be the logical cost-cutting trade candidate. Removing his $5 million cap hit from the Isles books wouldn’t leave a hole at center since Mathew Barzal could be moved back to that position.
Pageau’s skills as a two-way center and penalty killer give him value in the trade market. However, he has a 16-team no-trade list. Meanwhile, just 13 teams have $5 million in cap space, and that’s without accounting for their unsigned restricted free agents.
Moving Pageau alone might not be enough. Sears suggested waiving Ross Johnston and including Oliver Wahlstrom in any deal. If Zach Parise opts for retirement it would leave them with $6.4 million in cap room.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out anything when Isles GM Lou Lamoriello is concerned. He’s been chasing a scoring winger since last summer. Perhaps he can woo Tarasenko while finding a way to clear sufficient cap room. Still, it won’t be easy, especially if there are other suitors with more cap flexibility in the hunt.