Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 20, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 20, 2021

The Blackhawks could have an interest in Jack Eichel, the Coyotes could try to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson again, and the latest on Matthew Tkachuk in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Chicago Blackhawks are among the clubs with an interest in Jack Eichel, who is expected to be traded by the Buffalo Sabres later this summer. Brooks believes any offer from the Blackhawks for the Sabres captain must include young center Kirby Dach and their first-round pick (11th overall) in this year’s draft.

Other clubs believed to have an interest in Eichel include the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and perhaps the New York Rangers. Brooks also reports the Blackhawks are thought to be interested in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones and Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton, who could sign with the Seattle Kraken.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the potential pluses and minuses for the Blue Jackets if they were to acquire Eichel. His neck injury, desire for experimental surgery to treat the condition, $50 million remaining on his contract and the high cost of acquiring him are the drawbacks. The upside, however, is the addition of a hopefully healthy elite 24-year-old superstar center in his playing prime.

Hedger points out the Sabres need goaltenders. The Jackets could include Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo plus two of their three first-round picks in this year’s draft (including the fifth-overall selection) as part of a package offer. It would be surprising, however, if the Jackets parted with that fifth-overall pick.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch is dismissive of speculation suggesting the Senators could pursue Eichel. While they could use him, his $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years plus the Sabres’ high asking price makes no sense for them at this point in their rebuild.

Garrioch instead suggested Anaheim’s Adam Henrique if the Ducks absorb part of his $5.825 million AAV. Henrique has strong chemistry with Senators winger Connor Brown playing for Canada at the recent World Championships. Other options could include Calgary’s Sean Monahan, Montreal’s Phillip Danault, Chicago’s Dylan Strome, Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks suggests the Blackhawks’ interest in Eichel could be tied to the uncertainty over the health of captain Jonathan Toews, who missed this season battling a mysterious illness. He’s expected to return to action next season but Toews and the Hawks are keeping silent about his condition.

With Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on permanent long-term injury reserve, the Blackhawks will have nearly $11 million in cap relief if they wish to add a high-salaried player this summer. One can’t fault them for exploring the cost of acquiring Eichel if doubt remains about Toews’ condition. However, recent speculation has tied them to Jones and Hamilton given their need for a top-two defenseman. Those two would be more affordable to acquire than Eichel.

The Jackets have bee been searching for a true first-line center for some time. They have the cap space, those extra first-round picks and the goaltending depth to draw upon as trade bait for an Eichel offer. However, the Sabres could want that fifth-overall pick plus another player or a top prospect included in the deal.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

I agree with Garrioch that it’s nonsense to link the Senators to Eichel. Their young players showed considerable improvement last season. It would be wise to maintain their current pace for another season and see how they develop. The Sens should pursue an experienced center this summer but will likely target more affordable options.

COYOTES ATTEMPTING TO TRADE EKMAN-LARSSON AGAIN

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Arizona Coyotes will try again to trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. They attempted to deal their 29-year-old captain last fall but he only agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

Friedman said the two sides will take a different approach this time. The Coyotes will check the trade market. If they get a suitable offer they’ll bring it to Ekman-Larsson and he can decide if he’s comfortable with it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s declining performance and his hefty $8.25 million annual average value for the next six years will make him difficult to move. The Coyotes could be forced to absorb some salary or take back an expensive contract to make this work.

SHOULD THE BLUES PURSUE MATTHEW TKACHUK?

STLTODAY.COM: Ben Frederickson believes the St. Louis Blues should make a pitch for Matthew Tkachuk if the Calgary Flames are crazy enough to trade him. He feels the 23-year-old winger could help the Blues find some of their missing spark with his gritty offensive style of play.

Tkachuk has one year remaining on his current contract worth $7 million and becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Frederickson believes he’d be worth sacrificing Jordan Kyrou’s scoring potential or their first-round pick (16th overall ) in this year’s draft or finding the necessary cap space for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames general manager Brad Treliving has indicated he’s going to explore all his options this offseason. That includes possibly trading Tkachuk. So far, however, there’s no indication the young winger’s on the trade block. Most of the Flames trade speculation involves Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

Frederickson is correct in his assessment of the Flames’ expensive asking price for Tkachuk. Nevertheless, there will be teams willing to pay it to get him. The Blues could be among the suitors but they might not win a bidding war for his services.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation, the Bruins are in the market for a left-side defenseman, Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks go cold, and an update on Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators” yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger said discussions on Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel increased over the past week. They’ve reached the point where Dreger is comfortable saying he’s getting traded. He indicated there’s a number of suitors, speculating the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix. He also thinks the Los Angeles Kings will get into the bidding at some point.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three teams have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit plus young assets that could entice the Sabres.

The Ducks need a top-line center with 36-year-old captain Ryan Getzlaf no longer capable of first-line duty if he decides to return next season. However, I don’t think this is the right move for a team that’s really only just starting to rebuild. Eichel makes more sense for a club that’s trying to advance an ongoing rebuild process or a retooling team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.

Eichel seems like a good fit for the Kings. Recent reports claim they’re in the market for two top-six forwards. As I’ve noted before, however, there’s a sense among Kings’ followers that they’re seeking players in their late-20s on short-term deals for those top-six roles. If that’s the case, they’re not getting into the mix for Eichel.

The Jackets have sought a first-line center for years. They have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres also need goaltending and there’s talk the Jackets are willing to move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for a return that addresses another roster need. They’re in a good position to make a solid pitch for Eichel.

BRUINS SEEK A LEFT-SIDE DEFENSEMAN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reported Bruins president Cam Neely indicated his club’s off-season priority is finding a top-four left-side defenseman during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.

Goss speculated they could go the trade route as pickings are slim in this summer’s free-agent market for that type of blueliner. He feels Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit but the Bruins’ weak prospect pool means they don’t have many tradeable assets.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and the Bruins’ Mike Reilly are the top left-handed blueliner in this summer’s free-agent market. Other options could include New Jersey’s Ryan Murray and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. However, he felt the Bruins would be better-served by using trade chips such as Urho Vaakanainen or Jake DeBrusk to acquire a younger, established left-shot rearguard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Predators moving Ekholm after passing up the opportunity to do so leading up to this year’s trade deadline. He’s got a year remaining on his contract but they appear keen to re-sign him.

Perhaps the Bruins will pursue St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade the pending restricted free agent this summer.

UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV’S CONTRACT TALKS

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports early contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and the representatives for Kirill Kaprizov aren’t going well. He cited NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting Friday that the 23-year-old winger was in Moscow and it’s believed CSKA would like to sign him for the KHL and the 2022 Olympics.

Russo indicates Kaprizov is in Moscow attending a friend’s wedding. CSKA Moscow would love to sign the Calder Trophy finalist but the winger’s desire is to play in the NHL. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the KHL provides the Kaprizov camp with leverage in contract talks with the Wild.

The sticking point is the term of the contract. The Wild want to ink Kaprizov to a seven- or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp prefers a two- or three-year deal to bring him up to his UFA eligibility at age 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also noted Kaprizov doesn’t seem to want a long-term deal unless the Wild are willing to pay him what his future market value could be. The Wild, however, would be nervous of doing so without having more time to fully evaluate his potential.

I don’t think Kaprizov will return to the KHL but his camp will attempt to use as much leverage as possible. I also doubt Wild general manager Bill Guerin will trade the promising young winger after his impressive NHL debut this season. It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations proceed over the course of the offseason.

BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to move Dylan Strome. He had just 14 points in 40 games this season. “He would be eligible for the expansion draft,” writes Garrioch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome showed potential as a second-line center with a 51-point performance in 58 games in 2018-19 after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in an early-season deal. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 14 points this season. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3 million.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2021

The latest Leafs speculation plus updates on Dougie Hamilton and Seth Jones in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle no longer feels optimistic about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ chances of re-signing Zach Hyman. The 29-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman (NHL Images).

Multiple sources claim they don’t believe there have been any substantial contract discussions between the Leafs and the Hyman camp for some time. Talk around the league is the winger could command up to $6 million annually on a long-term deal, with the Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson (seven years, $38.5 million) cited as a comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out the possibility of the Leafs re-signing Hyman for perhaps a bit of a hometown discount. He could find it difficult to land a big-money deal with the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million. Nevertheless, many NHL general managers tend to succumb to auction fever in the free-agent market. Someone could tempt Hyman away from the Leafs with a significant offer.

OTTAWA SUN: Joel Colomby recently expressed the hope that Hyman would accept a hometown discount to stay with the Leafs and give them that essential grit they need on their top line. With Nick Foligno expected to return to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colomby believes they must find someone to replace him. “Is that Evander Kane’s name we’re hearing in trade rumors?”, he asked.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To my knowledge, Colomby’s the only one hearing Kane’s name in trade rumors. The 29-year-old winger was their most productive player, finishing the season with a team-leading 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games.

Things have been rather quiet for the San Jose Sharks in recent weeks. I believe they have no intention of moving Kane. If they were, his bankruptcy proceedings could dampen his value. That’s assuming the Leafs are among the three teams on his list of preferred trade destinations. If that wasn’t a showstopper, his $7 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 probably would be.

UPDATES ON JONES AND HAMILTON

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers cited a source claiming the Chicago Blackhawks are going to explore adding either Dougie Hamilton or Seth Jones to their defense corps this summer. However, they don’t intend to leverage their future to add either blueliner.

The Blackhawks won’t be interested should Hamilton seek a deal comparable to the $8.8 million annually on a seven-year deal Alex Pietrangelo signed last October with the Vegas Golden Knights. They would, however, consider discussions for a lower cap number.

As for Jones, it depends on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ asking price. One league source believes it could be a first-round pick, a second-rounder, and a high-quality prospect. Another felt Kirby Dach would have to be part of any offer from the Blackhawks.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater believes the Avalanche should pursue Jones if he wants to come to Colorado. He speculates the cost could be either Nazem Kadri, Tyson Jost or JT Compher, a first-round pick and a prospect such as Connor Timmins or Justin Barron. He wouldn’t give up Bo Byram though the Blue Jackets are sure to ask for him.

OTTAWA SUN: Joel Colomby reported there are rumors of the Maple Leafs having talks with the Blue Jackets about Jones. He believes the Leafs could fit him within their well-publicized salary-cap constraints by having the Jacket retain salary on the final year of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on permanent long-term injury reserve status, the Blackhawks will have sufficient cap space to pursue a top-two defenseman like Hamilton or Jones. Whether they can pull it off remains to be seen. Jones could end up costing them more in terms of a new contract plus the sizable return to the Blue Jackets. With Hamilton, it’s just the contract to be sorted out.

It’ll be interesting to see what Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has in store for his club following their disappointing playoff exit. He’s got to re-sign or replace pending UFAs like Philipp Grubauer and Gabriel Landeskog, plus Cale Makar is due a hefty raise coming off his entry-level deal. Sakic will have to shed salary if he pursues Jones.

The question of return will also be an issue for the Leafs. They don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft to include in a trade offer. There’s also the long-term cost of Jones’ next contract, which could exceed $8 million annually starting in 2022-23. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have over $51 million tied up in just six players for ’22-’23. They can’t take on Jones without shedding one of those contracts.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2021

The Jack Eichel trade chatter is heating up plus the latest on Sam Reinhart in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EICHEL TRADE CHATTER HEATING UP

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports hearing trade conversations between the Buffalo Sabres and other teams regarding Jack Eichel are getting “serious and intense.” He believes Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams will want a first-round pick in this year’s draft as part of the return.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

LeBrun lists the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers among the clubs as potential landing spots.

WGR 550: Franklin Heinzmann suggests the Ducks could be the ideal trade partner for the Sabres. He wondered if they would offer up promising center Trevor Zegras and the third-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of the return for Eichel.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes the Ottawa Senators should also be among the Eichel suitors. He points out they desperately need a big, talented center.

The price for Eichel, who’s coming off a down season and a neck injury, will never be better. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league, the Senators can afford his $10 million annual salary-cap hit for the remaining five seasons of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt teams calling the Sabres to inquire about the asking price for Eichel. First-line centers in their playing prime don’t become available every day. They’re also certain to be interested in his ongoing treatment for a herniated disk in his neck. After all, if you’re going to part with some prized assets for a $10 million superstar, you better be sure he won’t have any lingering health issues that could hamper his performance.

The Kings seem the best fit in terms of cap space and tradeable assets. They’re also reportedly seeking two top-six forwards this summer. In my recent conversation with John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, however, he said it’s believed they’re seeking established scorers around 27-years-old with two or three years remaining on their contracts. In other words, they want transitional players to buy more development time for their promising youngsters.

Everything I’ve seen and heard about the Ducks in recent weeks points toward rebuilding with younger players like Zegras. GM Bob Murray attempted to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois earlier this season, but that was when he still considered his club a potential playoff contender. I could be wrong but I think it’s a different story now.

I agree with Brennan that the Senators are well-positioned to make a competitive bid for Eichel. However, Dorion and his staff like the potential they’re seeing from their club over the last two seasons. I’d put them in the “long shot” category.

Rick Carpiniello, The Athletic’s Rangers writer, said he’s heard they’re “not likely, or much less likely now”, to pursue Eichel. He didn’t elaborate but I suspect that’s due to the recent front-office shake-up and their hiring of Gerard Gallant earlier this week as their new head coach.

The Wild need an established first-line center but I’m not sure GM Bill Guerin will part with the assets necessary to get Eichel following his club’s solid performance this season. He could consider more affordable options in the trade and free-agent markets. The Flyers seem more focused on pursuing a top-pairing right-side defenseman than on landing a first-line center.

With nearly $25 million in cap space, the Blue Jackets have the room to take on Eichel’s cap hit, and that will include signing restricted free agent winger Patrik Laine to a new contract.

The Jackets have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres need goaltenders and the Jackets are reportedly willing to move Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins to a return that addresses other roster needs. Perhaps there’s a fit there. Heck, maybe they include Laine in the deal if he proves difficult to sign to a long-term extension.

COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SAM REINHART?

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes it would be worthwhile for the Vancouver Canucks to kick the tires on the Sabres’ Sam Reinhart. A versatile forward who can play center or wing, the 25-year-old North Vancouver native wants out of Buffalo and wants to move west.

There’s a buzz among Canucks fans about potentially parting with the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft to acquire Reinhart. GM Jim Benning has indicated he’s going to keep his options open with that pick, including shopping it for a good young player.

SPORTSNET 650: Chris Johnston believes Reinhart can be a top-six contributor for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He feels he could be very effective in a second-line role behind an all-star first line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Benning took a lot of flak last year for letting Tyler Toffoli depart to Montreal via free agency. Acquiring Reinhart could atone for that move.

Reinhart to Vancouver seems like a great fit. The Sabres would be very interested if Benning came calling with that first-round pick, though they could also ask for something else to be included in the deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton, Patrik Laine, Rasmus Ristolainen and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said he’s asked around to see if the Buffalo Sabres gave other clubs permission to speak with Jack Eichel but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He added the club and its captain are negotiating the next step in his recovery from a herniated disk in his neck. Sources indicate if the Sabres shop Eichel or Sam Reinhart that we shouldn’t be surprised if they end up with another high pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski predicted the Sabres will grant permission for interested clubs to speak to Eichel. That will be necessary because of the treatment Eichel requires to treat his injury. If a rival club is willing to allow him to undergo the surgery he seeks and offers the right trade package, Lysowki believes the Sabres will make the deal sooner rather than later.

THE ATHLETIC/BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins will pass on Eichel because of his neck injury. “A $10 million player has to be a sure thing,” he wrote. Joe Haggerty dismissed any talk of the Bruins acquiring Eichel as “fantasy stuff.”

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Seattle Kraken could use the prospect they select with the second-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of a package offer for Eichel. One NHL executive said he was told Kraken general manager Ron Francis checked in on the Sabres captain.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports hearing the New York Rangers are not likely, or much less likely now, to get into the bidding for Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s neck injury will determine the number of teams with interest in the Sabres captain. Some could be willing to take a chance on him having surgery on his herniated disk, a procedure that’s never been performed before on an NHL player. However, I think most general managers share Shinzawa’s opinion. If you’re going to invest assets and cap space acquiring an expensive talent like Eichel, you better be sure he’ll be 100 percent healthy.

UPDATE ON HAMILTON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Philadelphia Flyers might not aggressively pursue Dougie Hamilton. The 27-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. The Hurricanes are allowing Hamilton to speak with other teams.

Friedman indicated the Flyers’ interests in addressing their blueline needs appear to be elsewhere, speculating they could target Columbus’ Seth Jones or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. He also suggested the Seattle Kraken and New Jersey Devils could make sense for Hamilton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi believes it would cost the Flyers “multiple high draft picks and either Travis Sanheim or Phil Myers for starters” to acquire Hamilton, and only if they can get him to sign a long-term contract extension. He feels the Flyers would have difficulty fitting him under the cap unless Jakub Voracek headed the other way.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall speculates the Flyers could consider more affordable options if they can’t land Hamilton or Jones. He pointed out they had an interest in Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak before tumbling out of playoff contention by the trade deadline. Hall also mentioned Vegas’ Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh’s Cody Ceci as other UFA options.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Friedman said the Florida Panthers are expected to be aggressively pursuing improvement this offseason. He’s curious if they ask the Columbus Blue Jackets about Patrik Laine. He and Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov have a good relationship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether the Jackets are going for a full-scale rebuild. A shake-up is probably coming after Seth Jones indicated his intent to test next summer’s free-agent market but it could be a retooling rather than a teardown.

I don’t see the Panthers being keen to take on the potential headache of Laine’s contract negotiations. It will cost $7.5 million to qualify his rights.

The Jackets could decide not to qualify him and let him depart as an unrestricted free agent. However, that would leave them with little to show for shipping Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg.

He cited Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reporting the New Jersey Devils had an interest in Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He wonders if they might also consider Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere if the Flyers included a sweetener in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski pointed out the Devils have the assets in picks and prospects to make a bid for Ristolainen, who indicated last month he’d be open to a trade. The issue here is he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Devils could acquire him and see how next season plays out or they could insist on him signing a contract extension first.

A scout suggested to Friedman that interest in Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique could pick up following his solid play for Canada at this year’s World Championships.

Friedman doesn’t put much stock into recent rumors suggesting Jared Bednar could lose his job as Colorado Avalanche head coach. Despite the club’s disappointing playoff exit, the team still believes in Bednar.

The San Jose Sharks have given pending UFA forward Kurtis Gabriel permission to speak with other teams.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

A look at possible destinations for Dougie Hamilton plus the latest Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHERE COULD HAMILTON LAND?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin examined some potential destinations for Dougie Hamilton if the 27-year-old defenseman departs the Carolina Hurricanes via free agency.

The Carolina Hurricanes will allow Dougie Hamilton to speak with other teams (NHL Images).

Larkin cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting yesterday the Hurricanes will allow Hamilton to speak with other teams before the free-agent market opens on July 28. Friedman suggested that could set the stage for a sign-and-trade but didn’t rule out the blueliner returning to the Hurricanes if he doesn’t receive better offers elsewhere.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets could be aggressive suitors given their need for a top-four right-side defenseman. Other possibilities include the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The latter would have to be willing to swap left-side defender Morgan Rielly for a righty like Hamilton.

Larkin included the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings under the category of too soon in their rebuild for the soon-to-be 28-year-old Hamilton. He also proposed the possibility of a hockey trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones or the New Jersey Devils for P.K. Subban if half of his salary was retained.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Larkin’s take on the Blackhawks, Flyers and Jets among the aggressive suitors. If it’s a sign-and-trade scenario, there would be some salary heading to the Hurricanes in the deal. The Flyers might have to shed more with Cap Friendly showing them carrying $69.2 million invested in 17 players. They could get that if the Seattle Kraken select James van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples is skeptical of the Oilers’ pursuing Hamilton because they have bigger needs than an offensive right-side blueliner, especially if Evan Bouchard is ready for full-time promotion. The Leafs could shake things up and a Rielly-for-Hamilton trade would certainly do that. However, Hamilton’s new contract for next season will be more expensive than Rielly’s $5 million. The Leafs can’t pull this off if they’re unwilling to move one of their high-salaried forwards.

I’ll be surprised if Hamilton ends up with the Wings or Kings. As Larkin points out, he might not be keen to join a rebuilding club at this stage in his career. The same applies to the Blue Jackets and Devils.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reported contract talks between the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins agent, Rick Valette. He speculates general manager Ken Holland could be open to more term in exchange for a more affordable annual average value. Leavins suggests something beyond six years would be risky for the Oilers as that would take him up to age 35 or 36 when his skills would be in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons suggested the Oilers let Nugent-Hopkins walk and pursue a more affordable center like Montreal’s Phillip Danault. Holland might have to go that route if he can’t get Nugent-Hopkins signed to a contract that fits within his budget. Nevertheless, the fact talks are resumed suggests the Oilers GM would prefer keeping him in the fold.

Leavins also speculates the Oilers could be interested in Toronto’s Zach Hyman if he goes to market but they’ll face competition from many suitors. Other options could include Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn if the Lightning needs to shed salary, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk or perhaps Taylor Hall if he doesn’t re-sign with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The most realistic of that bunch for the Oilers would be DeBrusk given his affordable $3.675 million contract. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list and the Oilers could be on it.

I may be wrong but I can see Hyman accepting less than market value to stay in his hometown of Toronto. He’s got a good gig with the Leafs so why screw that up? Sure, Hall could return to Edmonton but that doesn’t mean a reunion with the Oilers will happen. I see him staying with the Bruins.