NHL Rumor Mill – April 12, 2022
More speculation about possible offseason moves by the Jets and the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mark McIntyre believes the Jets’ offseason priority must be repairing a defense that is “comically painful to watch.” Part of the solution could come from promising young blueliners such as Dylan Samberg, Ville Heinola, Johnathan Kovacevic, Declan Chisholm and Leon Gawanke.
Making room for those players, however, should force general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to seriously consider moving one or two of his veteran core players. McIntyre believes Josh Morrissey should be the only full-time Jets defender considered untouchable. He recommends Cheveldayoff explore peddling any one of Brenden Dillon, Nate Schmidt, Dylan DeMelo and Neal Pionk.
NBC SPORTS: Sean Leahy also recommends the Jets repair their blueline corps. He believes that will require trades as Cheveldayoff isn’t the type of GM to toss around money in the free-agent market.
Leahy feels the Jets cannot afford to waste the prime years of Morrissey, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele. “Maybe someone in that group is moved this summer in order to facilitate improvement elsewhere”, he writes.
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck believes it seems clear that Scheifele isn’t buying into the system of Jets interim coach Dave Lowry. He wondered if a new head coach could help the center improve his performance after an inconsistent effort this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have reached a critical crossroads. They were expected to be much better after a solid performance during last season’s COVID-shortened schedule. Cheveldayoff cannot make marginal changes and expect things to get better next season. A shakeup to the roster core seems likely.
That could involve trading Scheifele but he has two more seasons remaining on his contract with a $6.125 million annual cap hit and a 10-team no-trade clause. Perhaps hiring a coach that Scheifele would respect might get him back on track but it won’t create the cap space needed to make room for younger blueliners.
Schmidt, 30, also has a 10-team no-trade clause and a $5.95 million annual cap hit through 2024-25. Dillon would be easier to move given his lack of no-trade protection and $3.9 million cap hit for two more seasons. However, the 31-year-old could be at the stage in his career where his best seasons are now behind him.
Pionk is younger at 26 and still has some prime years left in him. He also lacks a no-trade clause but his $5.875 million cap hit through 2024-25 might not be easy to move with the salary cap rising marginally for next season. DeMelo, 28, has a six-team no-trade clause but a cost-effective $3 million annual cap hit for two more seasons.
THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak was asked which of the San Jose Sharks goaltenders could be traded this season. He doesn’t see them shopping recently-acquired Kaapo Kahkonen. Veteran James Reimer would have the most trade value but wondered if the Sharks would want to ship out their best goaltender. Adin Hill would have the least trade value given his injury history.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kahkonen’s not going anywhere so it’s down to Reimer or Hill. They could move Reimer if, as Masisak suggests, they get a solid offer for him, such as a middle-six forward. However, if the goal for next season is reaching the playoffs, I suspect it’ll be Hill getting shipped out for whatever they can get for him.
Asked about Evander Kane’s contract situation, Masisak indicates multiple sources suggest a resolution could be reached before teams start reshaping their rosters in the offseason. He speculates there could be negotiations regarding a settlement between the Sharks and Kane between now and a yet-to-be-determined date for his grievance over his contract termination. That would mean the Sharks would still be on the hook for part of Kane’s salary but not the full $7 million annually for the next three seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane could be receptive to a settlement. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s keen to stay with the Edmonton Oilers. A settlement of, say, $4.5 million annually could make it easier for the Oilers to re-sign him to an affordable deal.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng reports the agent for forward Jonathan Dahlen confirmed his client wants to re-sign with the Sharks. The struggling winger is a restricted free agent this summer and there was speculation he wants to return to Sweden.