NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

Is it time for the Jets to rebuild? Should the Oilers trade a top-four defenseman? Are changes coming for the Predators? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE JETS REBUILD?

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has spun his wheels since his club reached the Western Conference Final two years ago, suggesting the club is heading in the wrong direction.

Friesen acknowledged Dustin Byfuglien’s unexpected departure and an injury-ravaged roster contributed to the club’s struggles this season. Nevertheless, the Jets lack depth on defense and the forward lines. He feels it’s time for Cheveldayoff to make a big move for a second-line center and a top-four defenseman.

With several teams affected by the flat salary cap and the Jets carrying additional cap room after Byfuglien’s contract termination, Friesen believes Cheveldayoff has the cap flexibility to address his roster issues.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes Cheveldayoff will feel the pressure during the off-season to reverse the Jets’ fortunes. He wonders how much rope the club’s ownership is willing to give their GM before deciding they need to go in a different direction. McIntyre feels Cheveldayoff will have to make a big move via the off-season trade or free-agent markets.

Could the Winnipeg Jets pursue Alex Pietrangelo in the free-agent market? (NHL Images)

If sidelined center Bryan Little (eardrum surgery, post-concussion symptoms) cannot play next season, they can place him on long-term injury reserve, potentially freeing up his $5.29-million cap hit for next season. Trading or buying out Mathieu Perreault could clear some more salary from their books. McIntyre considers fixing the blueline to be Cheveldayoff’s priority.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe suggests Andrew Copp could be the internal solution to replace Little if the latter remains sidelined. External options could include Montreal’s Max Domi or Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick as both could use a change of scenery. Wiebe also pondered the possibility of Cheveldayoff pursuing a big-ticket player like St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players. All their core players are under contract, so Cheveldayoff could re-sign his RFAs to affordable, short-term deals. Still, he might need a little more cap space if he intends to land a big-ticket player, especially via the UFA market. He can send some salary the other way if he’s acquiring a player via trade.

Domi’s status has been a hot topic in the Montreal media throughout this season. That chatter recently intensified with Domi currently seeing fourth-line minutes in the postseason. Patrick, however, has been sidelined this season by a migraine disorder, which (as Wiebe also noted) would make him a risky acquisition.

Pietrangelo would be a big catch for the Jets, but that’s assuming the Blues captain wants to play in Winnipeg if he tests the UFA market. If he doesn’t, Cheveldayoff would have to look elsewhere, and the pickings for top defensemen are slim beyond Pietrangelo and Boston’s Torey Krug.

SHOULD THE OILERS SHOP A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Bob Stauffer’s recent interview with Brian Burke in which the Sportsnet analyst suggested the Oilers trade a defenseman like Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, or Oscar Klefbom.

Burke felt the Oilers defense didn’t play well enough, believing one or two of their blueliners might need a change of scenery. He acknowledged such moves might be difficult given the Oilers’ limited cap space for next season.

The former NHL GM agreed with Stauffer’s suggestion the Toronto Maple Leafs might be a trading partner, proposing a swap of Larsson for a winger like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson.

Former NHL GM turned analyst Brian Lawton agreed there could be some changes to the top four. He expressed concern over Klefbom’s injury history. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, meanwhile, believes Larsson could be the likely trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those three Oilers defenseman, Nurse could fetch the best return. The 25-year-old is two years younger than Klefbom and Larsson and his style would make him attractive for clubs seeking a mobile, physical rearguard. Klefbom’s injury history could hurt his trade value, while Larsson’s UFA eligibility next summer could be a deal-breaker for some clubs.

Staples feels the Oilers should try and move out Kris Russell. He’s also a year away from UFA eligibility, but his 15-team no-trade clause could make that difficult.

LATEST ON THE PREDATORS

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile pulled no punches assessing his club’s performance this season. “This is unacceptable”, he said. “This is how we have to view this result is that we have to be better and it’s not acceptable.”

Poile indicated the club’s direction in the last two years made it “clear to me that we need to make some changes.” While the Preds GM said “everything is on the table,” Skrbina doesn’t expect a complete roster overhaul.

Pending UFAs Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith might not be back. The Predators could look in-house to address some of their needs, perhaps promoting Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino. Skrbina also speculates Poile could try again to trade center Kyle Turris or buy him out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72.2 million invested in 17 players, Poile will have to cut some salary if he intends to look to the trade or free-agent markets for help. Trading Turris could mean absorbing part of his $6 million annual salary or packaging him with a top draft pick or prospect. A contract buyout will leave them with $2 million annually in dead cap space to 2028.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2020

Reaction to the league’s proposal to stage the 2020 Draft before resuming the season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports this week will be a big one for the NHL. A board of governors’ conference call will be held today to discuss stage the 2020 draft next month, perhaps on June 5 and 6.

The league will review bids on Tuesday for potential hub cities to host games should the season resume this summer. Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Las Vegas are believed among those expressing interest. The league must also address concerns raised by players regarding potentially lengthy separations from their families.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan raised questions about staging the draft before the season resumes. He wants to know how the draft lottery will work, what happens with conditional picks, if teams will be allowed to trade players, and what happens with the investigation into claims the Arizona Coyote violated draft rules by fitness-testing at least 20 draft-eligible prospects before the league’s annual draft combine.

Las Vegas is believed among the cities interested in being a hub location for resuming the NHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regan pointed out deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested using points percentage as a way of determining the draft order, as well as reverting to the previous draft lottery system where one winner is picked and can only move up four spots. However, he noted that it raises the possibility of a team winning the draft lottery and going on to win the Stanley Cup if the season resumes this summer.

Regan cited Daly’s suggestions that teams involved in previous deals involving conditional picks in this year’s draft could sort them out between themselves or the league would do it for them. I agree with his take that it’s a simplistic solution for a complicated issue. It doesn’t sound like the league will allow players to be traded.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes appear to have inside information on 20 prospects, giving them an unfair advantage in this draft. I’ll be very surprised if that isn’t raised during that conference call today.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson cites an NHL team executive expressing doubt that staging an early draft will be a TV rating bonanza. “I know we’re gung-ho to get on the airwaves but our draft isn’t like the NFL draft. Nobody knows our players. I don’t think we’ll have massive ratings. There’s no intrigue leading up to the draft if you can’t trade real players, either, it’s just picking at a draft.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comparing the NFL and NHL drafts, Matheson notes that few Canadians follow junior hockey here or in Europe with the same intensity that Americans follow U.S. college football. As he also points out, this year’s draft will lack spice because of the inability to trade established NHL players. I agree with him that the league must aggressively market this year’s prospects to NHL fans if they intend to hold the draft a month from now.

TSN: NHL teams are preparing for an early draft despite incomplete information on this year’s prospects. Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said it would be nice to see how those players perform in playoff situations. Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said they’re having to rely more on videotape, while Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff added they’ll have to count on the work put in by their scouts from September to early-March. Flames GM Brad Treliving said losing the draft combine means they can’t physically test the prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every club will be in the same boat, except for the Coyotes because of their early physical testing of several prospects. Nevertheless, the inability to scout those youngsters in late-season and playoff action and evaluate their physical conditioning could make this year’s draft more of a guessing game, especially in the later rounds.

THE SCORE: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said NHL players flying into Canada from other countries while the border remains closed must follow quarantine procedures. “Certainly, at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.”

TORONTO SUN: Ryan Wolstat includes the Boston Bruins on his list of North American sports teams that would be hurt the most if their seasons are canceled because of the pandemic. With the NHL’s best record, the Bruins are considered this season’s Stanley Cup favorites.

Wolstat also thinks a cancellation of the season would spare the Toronto Maple Leafs the disappointment of another early playoff exit, while the last-place Detroit Red Wings wouldn’t have to complete the remainder of a meaningless schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Being the best team in the NHL during the regular season is no guarantee of a Stanley Cup championship. Since the NHL awarded the Presidents’ Trophy in 1986 to the team with the best regular-season record, only eight of those teams went on to win the Cup.

As for the Leafs, they could also exceed Wolstat’s expectations. Should the season resume following a long layoff, teams won’t be in the same state as they were when the schedule was paused.

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton shaved off his iconic beard.










NHL General Managers On The Hot Seat as Trade Deadline Approaches

NHL General Managers On The Hot Seat as Trade Deadline Approaches

 










What Will The Winnipeg Jets Do This Off-Season?

What Will The Winnipeg Jets Do This Off-Season?