NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2022
Could the Oilers target a Stars goalie? Will the Blackhawks shop Marc-Andre Fleury? How many teams could have an interest in Jakob Chychrun and John Klingberg? Could the Canucks shop J.T. Miller soon? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL THE OILERS GO SHOPPING FOR A GOALTENDER?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Edmonton Oilers are looking at all options around the NHL to address their goaltending issues. They’ve kicked tires on Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The Oilers also internally discussed the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin but the extra year on this contract at $3.33 million makes him less appealing. Stars goalie Braden Holtby could be more interesting as he’s a UFA at the season’s end. However, the real question is whether any of these options are better than Mikko Koskinen for the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No. No, they’re not. That doesn’t mean the Oilers might not acquire one of them in the hope they’ll provide some sort of upgrade. Khudobin did carry the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final but really struggled this season and wound up demoted to the minors. Holtby’s play has improved this season but his best days remain well behind him. Korpisalo failed to seize the starter’s job after Sergei Bobrovsky left town which is why the Jackets signed Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year extension.
Darren Dreger noted Chicago Blackhawks netminder Marc-Andre Fleury has also come up in the rumor mill but he’s not a fit in Edmonton for salary-cap reasons. When asked about trade possibilities, Fleury said he’s not thinking about that now as he’s trying to help the Blackhawks reach the playoffs.
Dreger expects there will be contract extension talks between the two sides. He also points out there’s an agreement with the Hawks that Fleury isn’t going anywhere unless he asks for a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury might consider a trade if the Blackhawks fail to gain ground in the standings over the next six weeks. His $7 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause probably keep him away from Edmonton. Some have linked him to the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals. There’s even talk of a reunion with the Pittsburgh Penguins despite Tristan Jarry’s solid play this season. Whether he ends up with one of those clubs or heads elsewhere remains to be determined.
THE LATEST ON CHYCHRUN AND KLINGBERG
SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed potential landing spots for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. They suggested the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues as possibilities.
Both of them felt the Florida Panthers could be in on Chychrun, citing management’s ongoing efforts to build up their blueline. They felt the Panthers need one more big piece on their defense corps. Marek believes the Coyotes would want Spencer Knight, Anton Lundell and a first-round pick in return but Friedman felt that’s the price to be paid if they’re going all-in this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Bill Zito has to consider if it’s worthwhile giving up that much of his club’s future to pursue the Stanley Cup this season. Granted, this move wouldn’t be for a rental player. The 23-year-old Chychrun is under contract for three more seasons who led all defensemen in goals last season.
The first-round pick is easy to part with given the Panthers’ depth and position in the standings. Giving up Knight would be tough but perhaps necessary with Sergei Bobrovsky carrying an almost untradable contract for four more seasons. Moving Lundell, who’s enjoying a solid rookie campaign, could be a bridge too far for Zito.
THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman and Saad Yousef recently examined potential trade destinations for Dallas Stars pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg. Their three contenders are the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Carolina Hurricanes, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs as dark horses.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks, Kings and Predators have the cap space and depth in promising young players to dangle for Klingberg if they wish to go that route. The Hurricanes showed a willingness to make big deadline deals, acquiring Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei two years ago. Their lack of cap space, however, would require some creativity to make the dollars fit.
The Penguins and Leafs are pressed for cap space. Both could stand pat or opt for more cost-effective options by the deadline. I’m not ruling out the possibility one of them swings a three-team deal to land someone like Klingberg. However, there’s no certainty they or the Hurricanes can find a third club to broker the deal given how many clubs have limited cap space this season.
WILL THE CANUCKS TRADE J.T. MILLER?
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli saying he could see a scenario where the Vancouver Canucks trade J.T. Miller soon, perhaps before they officially hire a new general manager.
Drance, however, is skeptical of that scenario becoming reality. While sources told him there are teams interested in Miller, the Canucks can afford to wait because he’s under contract through next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drance also acknowledged the Canucks will have to make a decision about Miller’s future in Vancouver. Unless a rival club is willing to make an offer too good to refuse by the trade deadline, Canucks management could wait until the offseason to move Miller when teams have more cap room and willingness to pursue players of his caliber.
That should also be a decision that should involve the new general manager. Otherwise, team president Jim Rutherford shouldn’t waste everyone’s time hiring a GM if he’s going to make all the decisions himself.