NHL One-Year Wonders: Central Division
Latest on the Oilers and Stars plus updates on Sergei Bobrovsky, Brett Pesce, Chris Kunitz, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TRADE TIDBIT FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS” COLUMN.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Edmonton Oilers “checked in” on Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky but a couple of sources “threw cold water on that.” The Capitals are seeking “a couple of mid-to-high” draft picks for Burakovsky. Friedman also said the Oilers like speedy Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou but there’s no guarantee the Wings will move him, plus the asking price would be expensive.
There’s also speculation they were talking to the Chicago Blackhawks “about something bigger” and could be trying to shed winger Tobias Rieder to free up salary-cap space. A rumor suggesting a team was interested in Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard went nowhere. Friedman also suggests Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen’s new contract could be used as a comparable by Calgary Flames netminder David Rittich.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson recently said his club won’t peddle the future for quick fixes, which likely means they won’t be making significant moves before the trade deadline. Burakovsky could cost the Oilers one or two of those assets to acquire. Interesting that the Capitals apparently seek a couple of draft picks as earlier speculation suggested they wanted a player who could help their roster right away.
Athanasiou is poised for a 30-goal, 55-point performance. He would be costly to acquire and I don’t see the Wings moving him now. The time for that was during his contract standoff during the summer of 2017. Seems like he and Wings management are on better terms now.
Rieder carries a $2-million cap hit on a one-year deal. Maybe a playoff contender will take a chance on him regaining his form.
While there’s an understanding Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would “consider other situations”, there’s a theory he and his agent haven’t committed them to paper yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Bobrovsky might be willing to waive his no-trade clause but he may not have submitted a written list to Jackets’ management. Meanwhile, Bobrovsky isn’t commenting on his future plans.GM Jarmo Kekalainen maintains they’re hoping to convince Bobrovsky and fellow UFA Artemi Panarin to re-sign, though acknowledging they could face difficult decisions if keeping them beyond this season isn’t possible.
Friedman speculates the Toronto Maple Leafs were watching Brett Pesce, not Dougie Hamilton, during their recent scouting of the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed the Hurricanes seek a scoring forward in exchange for one of their right-shot rearguards. Friedman said, however, the Leafs aren’t willing to part with Kasperi Kapanen or blueline prospect Rasmus Sandin.
While contract negotiations are ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agents Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, Friedman said there doesn’t seem to be much discussion with winger Ryan Dzingel. He could fetch a decent return if the Senators decide to shop him.
Friedman believes a few playoff contenders are considering Chicago Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz. He suggests the Calgary Flames would be a good fit.
Friedman cited BSN’s Adrian Dater reporting the New York Rangers were scouting the Colorado Avalanche. While it could be tied to Rangers like Kevin Hayes or Vladislav Namestnikov, New York’s interest could be in a top prospect like Shane Bowers or much more. The Avs, however, will “zealously protect” their best draft assets. Friedman also believes the Avs will explore defenseman Nikita Zadorov’s trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been some speculation out of Colorado suggesting Hayes would be a good fit for the Avalanche, who need secondary scoring. But if the Avs won’t part with a good young asset, the Rangers could look elsewhere for a suitable trade partner.
Friedman reports the Dallas Stars are dangling Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin and Mattias Janmark.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are in need of secondary scoring. Perhaps one or two of those guys will be used as trade bait to address that issue.
Game recaps, Lightning re-signed Yanni Gourde, latest demotions and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo made 32 saves in his first game since suffering a season-opening knee injury backstopping his club to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in the second game of the NHL Global Series in Helsinki, Finland. Jets forward Patrik Laine scored for the Jets, marking his fourth goal in two games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are a different team when Luongo’s between the pipes.
Derrick Pouliot’s overtime goal gave the Vancouver Canucks a 7-6 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Elias Pettersson (two goals, three assists) and Brock Boeser (two goals, two assists) led the way for the Canucks, while Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had three points for the Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game may not have been a defensive masterpiece but you’ve got to admit that these high-scoring contests are fun to watch. Speaking of fun to watch, so are the leading scorers of the Avalanche and Canucks.
Antti Raanta made 48 saves and Alex Goligoski collected three assists in the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Michael Grabner tallied the Coyotes’ winning goal. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho saw his twelve-game points streak come to an end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have won five straight games, rising from dead last in the Western Conference two weeks ago to within one point of a wild-card berth.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday signed forward Yanni Gourde to a six-year contract extension with an annual average value of $5.166 million. Gourde was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A versatile two-way skater who can play all three forward positions, Gourde was an undrafted prospect who worked his way into the Lightning lineup. He tallied 25 goals and 64 points as a 25-year-old rookie last season and is currently tied for second among Lightning scorers with 12 points in as many games. Little wonder management opted to ink him to a long-term deal.
Gourde’s signing also means the Bolts have over $72 million invested in 14 players for 2019-20 (stick tap to Cap Friendly), with Brayden Point due for a big raise coming off his entry-level contract and pending UFA defensemen Anton Stralman, Bradon Coburn, and Dan Girardi to re-sign or replace. Unless the Bolts can shed some salary next season, Point and the Lightning could face a contract stalemate akin to that of the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander.
NBC SPORTS: Anaheim Ducks winger Patrick Eaves “had a blast’ in his first game since Oct. 13, 2017, skating in the Ducks 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday. He’d been sidelined by a post-viral syndrome and shoulder surgery.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils have sent center Pavel Zacha to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sixth overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, Zacha’s been something of a disappointment thus far for the Devils. Perhaps spending some time in the minors will help the 21-year-old to elevate his game.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have returned defenseman Evan Bouchard to the OHL’s London Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A first-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, Bouchard has considerable potential as a top-pairing mobile blueliner. He could crack the Oilers’ roster on a full-time basis next season.
Tyler Seguin injured, Blackhawks raise ticket prices & more in today’s collection of NHL headlines. (more…)