NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2023
What will the Jets do with Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele? Could the Penguins trade Jeff Carter to make room for Tomas Tatar? Could the Rangers reacquire Mats Zuccarello by the trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WHAT WILL THE JETS DO WITH HELLEBUYCK AND SCHEIFELE?
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck wonders what Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will do with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and center Mark Scheifele. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season and there’s no indication they’re going to sign contract extensions.
Billeck believes the Jets can ill-afford to hold onto those two assets for the coming season and forego any sort of return for them. Retaining them for this season risks one or both suffering injuries that could hurt their trade value.
As he did with the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade, Cheveldayoff must find return assets for Hellebuyck and Scheifele that come with team control. However, the Jets GM could face a difficult decision if Hellebuyck and Scheifele are still on the team at the trade deadline and the club is sitting in a high playoff berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Billeck mentioned the possibility of Cheveldayoff getting an offer that makes sense before training camp opens. However, there have been reports since mid-July suggesting the Jets could be willing to start the season with both players on the roster and see how things turn out.
Given the high number of teams with limited cap space for this season, finding a deal that makes sense won’t be easy. Cheveldayoff may have to take the risk by carrying both players for the season, hoping that they stay healthy and play well, and hope for better offers when the trade deadline rolls around.
COULD THE PENGUINS TRADE CARTER TO MAKE ROOM FOR TATAR?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski noted the Penguins have been linked to free-agent Tomas Tatar in the rumor mill. While the 32-year-old winger could be a good fit, finding sufficient cap room to sign him could be challenging unless he’s willing to accept less than $1 million for this season.
Kingerski suggested trading Jeff Carter would be the logical choice to clear cap room for Tatar. He comes with a $3.125 million cap hit for this season. However, the 38-year-old Carter also has complete control with a full no-movement clause. Even if he retired today, the Penguins wouldn’t get cap relief because he’s on a 35-plus contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski considers a Carter trade to be unlikely. Hypothetically, it’s possible but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.
COULD ZUCCARELLO REUNITE WITH THE RANGERS?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matthew Mugno noted that Mats Zuccarello is in the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Wild. He suggested that the 35-year-old winger might end up getting moved by the trade deadline if the Wild have a mediocre season.
If so, Mugno believes the New York Rangers would be the one club that could pry Zuccarello from re-signing with the Wild. He began his NHL career with the Rangers, spending almost nine seasons there until traded to Dallas before the 2019 deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild could shop Zuccarello if they’re out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline. Perhaps the Rangers would make a pitch for him.
Nevertheless, I think the Wild will be a playoff club again this season, especially if Zuccarello remains productive skating alongside superstar linemate Kirill Kaprizov. They won’t break up that tandem if they’re in the postseason hunt.