NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Los Angeles Kings
Several Western Conference clubs will face some serious off-season questions. Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they do, it could be for a young scoring forward. Manson would be the easiest to move. He has a 12-team no-trade list, while Fowler has a four-team trade list.
Dixon expects Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka to continue pursuing a goal scorer, but wondered what’s the next solution? Phil Kessel turned into a disappointment, and they saw marginal improvement when Taylor Hall was acquired in December.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they shop more futures? They already traded away their 2020 first-rounder. Do they offer up promising defenseman Jakob Chycrhun despite his long injury history? Chayka’s going to have to get creative.
Dixon mused about the possibility of the Calgary Flames shopping Johnny Gaudreau.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but I don’t see this happening. Gaudreau’s numbers were down this season, but the 26-year-old winger is only a year removed from a career-high 99-point performance. Unless Flames GM Brad Treliving is going to rebuild the roster (and I don’t believe that’s his intention), It doesn’t make any sense to trade his best scorer because of one bad year.
The Chicago Blackhawks need goaltenders next season. Even if they re-sign 35-year-old Corey Crawford, Dixon thinks they must add another quality goalie who can play 40 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If, as expected, Crawford is re-signed for another year or two, they could find several good options in this summer’s UFA market. Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss could be available.
Dixon asked if the Colorado Avalanche have Taylor Hall‘s phone number when he hits the open market in the off-season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He feels Hall would be a great addition on the Avs’s second line. I agree, but signing Hall will be an expensive undertaking. The Avalanche could easily afford him this year, but he would become their highest-paid player. Assuming they could get him for $8 million annually, that’s too much to invest in a second-line player, especially when Gabriel Landeskog and rising star Cale Makar will be in line for big raises next year.
Dixon wondered where the Dallas Stars will find some young forwards. It could cost them futures to land a scorer in his prime.
He’s also curious how much it’ll cost the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins before he becomes a UFA next summer. He also expects them to shop around for a goalie, as it may be asking too much to bank on 38-year-old Mike Smith.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless they absorb half their salary or take on a toxic contract in return, the answer is no. Both are 35 and carrying annual salary-cap hits exceeding $5 million annually through 2021-22.
Does it make sense for the Minnesota Wild to trade defenseman Matt Dumba?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, it doesn’t. Dumba is 25 and signed through 2022-23. This was a down season stats-wise, but he was also coming off a serious pectoral muscle injury last season. Sometimes it takes time to fully recover from that type of injury. GM Bill Guerin could keep an open ear for reasonable trade offers, but I think he’ll hang onto Dumba.
Can the San Jose Sharks find a starting goalie? Dixon advocates pursuing a UFA netminder like Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, or Robin Lehner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good idea, but the Sharks have over $66 million invested in 13 players, with $5.75 million annually being paid to current starting goalie Martin Jones, who has a three-team trade list. Unless they can find a way to move out Jones or slash another salary, they could be forced to consider more affordable short-term options.
Will Alex Pietrangelo re-sign with the St. Louis Blues?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe he will, but the Blues will have to shed some salary to accommodate his raise to between $8 million and $9 million annually.
Can the Vancouver Canucks keep Jacob Markstrom?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, but like the Blues, they’ll have to shed a salary to fit in his new contract. Maybe this is the year they find a taker for Loui Eriksson or buy out the remainder of his contract.
Is Robin Lehner the Vegas Golden Knights’ long-term goalie?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Lehner is younger than starter Marc-Andre Fleury, put up better numbers over the last two seasons, and is in his playing prime. On the other hand, Fleury is a proven performer and remains the face of the Golden Knights. Had Lehner come in and took over the starter’s job from Fleury over the remainder of this season, perhaps he could make the case as their long-term goalie. Re-signing him would force the cap-strapped Golden Knights to dump a salary or two.
Dixon wondered if the Winnipeg Jets might move a forward to bolster their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule it out, but the anticipated termination of Dustin Byfuglien’s contract ($7.6 million AAV) could provide sufficient wiggle room to find more affordable depth options for next season.
Alec Martinez is reportedly on the verge of becoming a Golden Knight, more talk of Jeff Carter returning to the Flyers, the latest on Chris Kreider, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KINGS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS WORKING ON MARTINEZ TRADE
LOS ANGELES TIMES/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie yesterday reporting the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights are close to finalizing a deal sending defenseman Alec Martinez to the Golden Knights for two second-round draft picks. The move is expected to be completed today. Martinez was held out of last night’s game against Winnipeg for precautionary reasons.
THE ATHLETIC’s Jesse Granger suspects the delay could be salary-cap related on the Golden Knights side.
**UPDATE** The trade has been completed, with Martinez heading to the Golden Knights for a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have been in the market for a top-four, right-side defenseman for some time. There was talk they were eyeing New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, but that no longer appears the case.
Martinez, 32, would bring a welcome presence on the Vegas blueline. He’s got plenty of postseason experience, winning two Stanley Cups with the Kings. He’s also signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $4-million annual average value. The Golden Knights could shift Shea Theodore to the left side and pair him with Martinez.
MORE “CARTER-TO-FLYERS” CHATTER
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman thinks the Philadelphia Flyers could consider bringing back Jeff Carter, depending on the health of young center Nolan Patrick.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall points out how difficult it would be for the Flyers to pull that off. They have just over $2 million in salary-cap space, meaning there’s not enough to acquire Carter even if the Kings absorbed half of his $5.2-million AAV. They would have to do some cap juggling for the remaining two years of his contract. There’s also the question of what the Kings would want in return, and what assets the Flyers can spare.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stranger things have happened, and it would make a nice story for Carter to return to the city where his NHL career began. Given the cap difficulties, however, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could be forced to seek more affordable alternatives.
UPDATE ON KREIDER
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues could be interested in New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider. The Washington Capitals could be a stealth candidate, but their recent acquisition of defenseman Brenden Dillon probably takes them out of the bidding.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Avalanche and Bruins are the front-runners for Kreider. He also lists the Blues, Capitals, and Florida Panthers among others who could come calling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues’ acquisition of defenseman Marco Scandella could be the only move they make at the deadline. Sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko is recovering well from early-season shoulder surgery and could return before the end of the season. Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater believes the Avs could target Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar if they fail to land Kreider.
THE LATEST ON TROCHECK
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck is garnering attention. The 26-year-old has two year left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million. Friedman feels most teams can afford that, though he won’t be inexpensive.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t believe the Panthers are shopping Trocheck but acknowledged teams are calling about him. The Panthers desperately need a top-four defenseman, so they have little choice but to listen to offers. He wonders if they might have an interest in Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, but gets the sense Wild GM Bill Guerin wants to retain Brodin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Dale Tallon will want a defenseman for Trocheck. Failing that, he might have to get creative. LeBrun suggested dealing the center for picks and prospects that could be flogged to another club for a top-four blueliner.
IS LEHNER AVAILABLE?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if a lack of progress in contract talks is affecting Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner, who was unusually quiet during a recent game. The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly interested in Lehner and have an extra first-round pick to dangle as trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes fading, GM Stan Bowman could listen to offers for Lehner if he remains unsigned by the deadline. We’ll see what happens.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds remains a player of interest for the Vancouver Canucks. Their recent acquisition of Tyler Toffoli was related to filling the gap left by the sidelined Brock Boeser. They still haven’t found a suitable replacement for Micheal Ferland, who’s out for the season due to concussion symptoms. Simmonds has an eight-team no-trade list, but the Canucks aren’t believed to be on it.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also thinks the Canucks could consider adding Simmonds, but that could be difficult to do without a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Canucks will still add toughness if they can’t land Simmonds. They could be faced with considering more affordable options. Vancouver GM Jim Benning surprised us with his acquisition of Toffoli, so he could have another trick up his sleeve before the deadline.
ATHANASIOU’S VALUE COULD RISE
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports injuries to contending teams could bolster the trade value of Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou. The Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks could be in play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager (and former Red Wings GM) Ken Holland might be interested in Athanasiou. However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Oilers’ injuries and winger Zack Kassian’s seven-game suspension is creating problems for how Holland will approach the deadline. While he’d love a third-line center like Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau for a right-winger for Connor McDavid’s line, he’s not prepared to part with a first-round pick and a top prospect for a rental player. Many of those injured Oilers aren’t on long-term injury reserve, giving Holland limited cap space.
The Canucks’ acquisition of Tyler Toffoli likely rules them out for Athanasiou. He could be a fall-back choice if the Avs lose out in the bidding for Kreider.
WILL KOVALCHUK STAY OR GO?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates the Montreal Canadiens could likely trade winger Ilya Kovalchuk if an agreement on a contract extension can’t be reached before the trade deadline. He suggests the Avalanche and Bruins as possible destinations.
The latest on the Canadiens and Sharks plus updates on Jeff Carter and Erik Gustafsson in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
COULD THE CANADIENS SHOP KOVALCHUK, DOMI OR TATAR?
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports the Montreal Canadiens are very pleased with the performance of Ilya Kovalchuk. Earlier this month, they signed the veteran winger to a one-year, prorated $700K contract. He’s got eight points in as many games, including four goals. As the Canadiens get healthier coming out of the upcoming All-Star break and with the Feb. 24 trade deadline getting close, Johnston believes Kovalchuk could become a trade asset that lands the Habs a draft pick.
Earlier in the week, Johnston’s colleague Eric Engels observed Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin faces some difficult decisions in the coming weeks. If leading scorer Tomas Tatar’s value in the trade market is high, Engels suggests Bergevin should explore the winger’s value in the trade market. He also feels the same about defenseman Jeff Petry, but acknowledged it would take a significant offer to tempt Bergevin as youngers blueliners Cale Fleury and Josh Brooks are at least a couple of years away from becoming top-four blueliners.
If the Canadiens can’t find a suitable return for Kovalchuk, Engels proposes attempting to re-sign the veteran winger.
TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie believes the Canadiens will be sellers leading up to the trade deadline. He feels they should move Kovalchuk if he can fetch a second-round selection. He also thinks a team willing to do a “problem swap” could come calling about Max Domi. Lajoie lists Nick Cousins, Dale Weise, Jordan Weal, and Brett Kulak as other trade candidates.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Jonathan Bernier also ponders what the Habs could get for Kovalchuk in the trade market. He reminds us that the New Jersey Devils traded Brian Boyle last season to the Nashville Predators for a second-round pick. In 2017, the Detroit Red Wings sent winger Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers for a third-round and Dylan McIlrath, while the Colorado Avalanche got a conditional fourth from the LA Kings for Jarome Iginla.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk’s thriving thus far in Montreal. If the Canadiens somehow surge back into the playoff chase in a month, they could hang onto him for the remainder of the season. If not, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to suggest they could get a second- or a third-round in return if he maintains his point-per-game pace.
Domi’s name has surfaced a couple of times in recent speculation. While there’s been some grumbling in the Montreal media over his temper, consistency, and supposedly selfish play, the 24-year-old reached a career-high 72 points last season and is on pace for a respectable 55 points. I’m not convinced that he’s in any danger of getting traded.
Tatar, meanwhile, has another year remaining on his contract. Bergevin doesn’t have to shop the 29-year-old winger this season, but it might not hurt to gauge his value in the trade market.
COULD CARTER HIT THE TRADE BLOCK?
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wonders if LA Kings center and former Flyer Jeff Carter might be available at the trade deadline. The 35-year-old Carter is under contract through 2021-22 with an annual average salary of over $5.2 million. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time 30-goal scorer who’s on pace for 23 goals this season.
Hall’s colleague John Clark said the Flyers discussed the possibility of trading for Carter. While he has fond memories of his years in Philadelphia, Carter said he doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles. “I love playing in L.A. and being a part of this team,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter surfaced in the rumor mill midway through last season. A report claimed he could retire if traded, but he denied it. Carter lacks no-trade protection, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the rebuilding Kings looked into moving him.
Nevertheless, his age and annual average value are significant stumbling blocks. An interested club might insist on the Kings picking up a healthy portion of his salary-cap hit. Given the Flyers’ limited cap space, they can’t afford his full AAV.
BLACKHAWKS LISTENING ON GUSTAFSSON?
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently reported the Chicago Blackhawks have spoken with other clubs about Erik Gustafsson. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He and Hawks GM Stan Bowman declined to comment regarding a possible contract extension.
A league source believes they’re checking the market value and could circle back before the trade deadline. They were asking mostly about prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Powers that how the Blackhawks fare in the coming weeks will also determine what happens with Gustafsson. If they climb back into the playoff picture, they could hang onto the blueliner for a run at the postseason.
UPDATE ON THE SHARKS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s word San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is embarrassed the first-round pick he gave up as part of the deal for Erik Karlsson could turn into a lottery selection. As a result, he’ll try to get a first-rounder back before the trade deadline. He’ll have to sweeten the pot because none of his pending UFAs (including Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson) will fetch a first-rounder.
Garrioch speculates teams could call about Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Brent Burns. He also claims New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is sniffing around for a defenseman and should give Wilson a call.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s reportedly let it be known he’s not interested in moving a core player. Of course, that could change if someone were to make a significant offer, but I doubt that type of deal takes place before the deadline.
Jack Eichel enjoys a four-goal performance, Joel Quenneville, Jeff Carter, and Steven Stamkos reach notable milestones and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored all of his team’s goals as they doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. It was the first four-goal game of Eichel’s NHL career. The Sabres snapped a six-game winless skid.
Joel Quenneville became just the second coach in NHL history to reach 900 career victories as his Florida Panthers nipped the New York Rangers 4-3. Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov scored twice while teammates Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle each had three assists. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin extended his points streak to 11 games with a goal and an assist.
Los Angeles Kings winger Jeff Carter scored the winning goal in his 1,000th career game to give his club a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist for the Kings. Golden Knights forwards Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson each had two points. Earlier in the day, the Golden Knights placed left wing Brandon Pirri on waivers.
Steven Stamkos tallied his 400th career goal but it wasn’t enough to prevent his Tampa Bay Lightning from dropping a 4-3 decision to the Winnipeg Jets. Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had two points for the Jets, who’ve won six of their last eight games. The Lightning’s win streak was stopped at three games.
Jamie Benn scored in overtime as the Dallas Stars overcame a 4-2 deficit to edge the Edmonton Oilers 5-4. Tyler Seguin scored and collected two assists for the Stars. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid had three assists, linemate Leon Draisaitl extended his points streak to 12 games with a goal and an assist, and Jujhar Khaira tallied twice. Draisaitl (43 points) and McDavid (40 points) sit first and second respectively atop the NHL scoring leader board.
Jakub Vrana’s shootout goal gave the Washington Capitals a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins. The Capitals have won 12 of their last fifteen games and sit atop the overall standings with 33 points. Bruins winger David Pastrnak sniped his league-leading 17th goal of the season. Earlier in the day, the Bruins placed defenseman Torey Krug (upper body) on injured reserve while Patrice Bergeron missed this contest as he rests a lower-body injury.
Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, who stormed back from a 4-2 deficit to force the extra frame. MacKinnon had three points on the night while Cale Makar had four assists. Adam Gaudette scored twice for the Canucks. The Avs weren’t happy over the officials’ failure to stop play when Matt Calvert was struck in the head by a shot from Elias Pettersson and lay bleeding on the ice. The Canucks scored their third goal soon afterward.
The New York Islanders extended their points streak to 14 games with a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders rallied back from a 3-0 deficit on third-period goals by Anthony Beauvillier (2) and Mathew Barzal, who also scored the winner in the shootout.
Derek Grant netted his first career NHL hat trick and John Gibson made 37 saves as the Anaheim Ducks snapped a five-game winless skid by dropping the St. Louis Blues 4-1. The Blues’ points streak ended at nine games.
Three-point performances by Dominik Kahun (two goals) and Bryan Rust carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-1 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the Penguins first win without sidelined captain Sidney Crosby. The Leafs are winless in their last five games (0-4-1) and slipped out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The New Jersey Devils rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on an overtime goal by Kyle Palmieri. Devils winger Taylor Hall collected two helpers. The Canadiens picked up a point to move into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Earlier in the day, the Habs announced forward Jonathan Drouin was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury suffered during Friday’s victory over Washington.
Robin Lehner made 39 saves and Alexander Nylander potted two goals as the Chicago Blackhawks romped to a 7-2 win over the Nashville Predators. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Brandon Saad each had two points for the Blackhawks. Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne was yanked after giving up four goals on 14 shots.
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper turned in a 37-save shutout to blank the Calgary Flames 3-0. Kuemper also got involved in a fracas in front of his net, grabbing Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk in a headlock and flipping him to the ice. The Coyotes have won three of their last four while the Flames are winless in their last three contests.
Kevin Labanc’s shootout goal gave the San Jose Sharks a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings, extending their win streak to six games. Labanc finished the night with a goal and two assists while teammate Logan Couture added three assists. . The Wings extended their points streak to five.
The Carolina Hurricanes needed an overtime goal by Andrei Svechnikov to defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 after blowing 2-0 and 3-1 leads.
Ron MacLean addresses the Don Cherry situation and the end of Coach’s Corner pic.twitter.com/4D9MVjD6zb
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 17, 2019
Which players should the Kings trade this season? Are there changes in store for the Wild? What next for Jesse Puljujarvi? The latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
A LOOK AT SEVERAL KINGS TRADE CANDIDATES
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper wondered if Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake might be too patient with his rebuild. He feels the longer Blake waits, the more likely he’ll be dealing from a position of weakness. He suggested forwards Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Alec Martinez as the Kings’ best trade candidates.
Carter was rumored to have threatened retirement last season if the Kings attempted to trade him. A rival GM said Carter didn’t have much asset value. (Spector’s note: In an earlier version, I wrote Carter has a no-movement clause. He lacks no-trade protection. My apologies for the error)
The same goes for Toffoli, who could fetch a second-round pick and second-tier prospect. Martinez has been steady this season and would be attractive to rival clubs.
Cooper doesn’t expect winger Ilya Kovalchuk, goalie Jonathan Quick or forward Trevor Lewis to attract much interest. Kovalchuk has a no-movement clause and is in decline. Quick’s numbers have tanked plus he carries a $5.8-million annual salary-cap hit. An NHL scout said every team has a player like Lewis, meaning he has little-to-no trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli could be traded unless he and the Kings hammer out a contract extension before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He’s a two-way forward and a former 30-goal scorer. However, his performance has declined since last season. He won’t bring in much of a return unless his play improves.
Carter is 34 and his best years are well behind him. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $5.275 million. The Kings would have to pick up a hefty chunk of that cap hit. That might not be enough to tempt other clubs.
Martinez might draw the best return. The 32-year-old carries an affordable $4 million AAV through 2020-21 and lacks no-trade protection. I expect he’ll draw plenty of attention in the trade market once the calendar flips to January.
LATEST ON THE WILD
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild first-year GM Bill Guerin isn’t ready to give up on this season. He’s encouraged by what he’s seen from their recent West Coast road trip and thinks they could be heading in the right direction. He didn’t rule out making a move to help his club if the opportunity arises. However, he also didn’t rule out a roster rebuild if things don’t improve as the season progresses.
Guerin’s biggest need is a game-breaker, something the Wild’s been lacking since Marian Gaborik left town. He acknowledged it’s nearly impossible landing that player via trade as historically they tend to come through the draft. He was also non-committal over the future of head coach Bruce Boudreau. His contract expires at the end of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have recovered somewhat from an awful start to this season. However, they’ve still got a lot of ground to cover to get back into the playoff chase. Time remains on their side but they cannot afford any more long winless skids. Once we get to mid-January, I expect we’ll have a better idea of what Guerin has in store for the Wild.
PULJUJARVI TO STAY IN FINLAND THIS SEASON
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes it’s a good idea Jesse Puljujarvi will play out this season in Finland. The 21-year-old winger is coming off major surgery and a bad season with the Edmonton Oilers that damaged his confidence.
A restricted free agent, Puljujarvi opted to return to Finland while awaiting a trade by the Oilers. He could still be moved but that seems less likely now. A strong season in Finland could improve his trade value next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with Puljujarvi off to a good start in Finland, he was unlikely to fetch a decent return right now. Better to wait and see how things unfold over the remainder of the season and attempt to move him next summer.