NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2021
A look at several teams that could make side deals this summer with the Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun and Ryan S. Clark recently listed the Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild and Tampa Bay Lightning as six clubs that could be in play to make side deals with the Seattle Kraken.
LeBrun doesn’t expect much to happen with the Hurricanes if defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a pending unrestricted free agent, isn’t signed before the July 21 expansion draft. The Hurricanes would then have a week before the free-agent market opens on July 28 to re-sign Hamilton. However, it’s possible the Kraken could sign Hamilton during their exclusive free-agent interview window (July 18-21), making the blueliner part of their expansion draft selections.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks they’ll hold off on signing Hamilton until after the expansion draft in order to protect Jake Bean as well as Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. He also speculated the Kraken could take Brady Skjei in that scenario but could balk at his $5.25 million cap hit.
Clark pointed out the Avalanche could lose Ryan Graves to the Kraken if they protect just three defensemen or blueliner Jacob MacDonald if they protect eight skaters. It’s expected veteran Erik Johnson will be asked to waive his no-movement clause to be exposed in the draft. The Avs could explore trading one of their forwards if they can get something substantial in return and are open to discussing their needs with the Kraken.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson waiving his NMC would give the Avs some flexibility over which defensemen to protect. If they opt to protect eight skaters to hand onto four defensemen, however, they’ll lose a decent forward to the Kraken. Avs general manager Joe Sakic will probably be talking trade with Kraken GM Ron Francis in the days leading up to July 21.
Clark indicated the Oilers’ plans will depend upon the health of sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom. A recovering Klefbom could be exposed in the draft because the Kraken won’t select an injured player with a $4.167 million cap hit. However, the Oilers could make a side deal if Klefbom is healthy and they re-sign pending UFAs Tyson Barrie and Adam Larsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports have Klefbom facing an uncertain future following his shoulder surgery. The Oilers could wait until after the expansion draft to sign Barrie and Larsson or they could sign one and take their chances with the other if Klefbom isn’t healthy by then.
LeBrun explored several scenarios if the Kraken were to covet Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger. They could have the Panthers re-sign the pending UFA goalie before the draft and select him as an exposed player, sign him during their free-agent interview period or attempt to sign him in the free-agent market on July 28.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks Panthers GM Bill Zito will approach Francis about the sign-and-select option, perhaps offering up an enticement like defenseman Markus Nutivaara in a side deal.
The Wild could have discussions with Jonas Brodin, Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter and Mats Zuccarello about waiving their no-movement clauses. Getting at least two of them to waive their NMCs would make it possible to protect Matt Dumba and Jordan Greenway. Failing that, they risk losing Dumba if they protect three defensemen or Greenway if they protect eight skaters. Protecting Dumba and Greenway could also create a situation where the Kraken could select defenseman Carson Soucy or goaltender Cam Talbot, raising the possibility of a side deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parise and Suter could provide the most flexibility for the Wild if they can be convinced to waive their NMCs. I doubt Francis would want an aging veteran carrying a $7.538 million cap hit on his books for the next four years.
The cap-strapped Lightning could try to sell the Kraken on selecting Spokane native Tyler Johnson but they’ll have to add a sweetener to convince them to take his $5 million cap hit off the Lightning’s books. LeBrun suggested the cost could be trading their 2022 first-round pick to the Kraken or shipping them winger Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat (if he waives his no-trade clause) defenseman Erik Cernak.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the Lightning do in this situation. Bolts GM Julien BriseBois tried to waive and trade Johnson before the start of the season but couldn’t find any takers. He’ll have to package him with a good player or that first-round pick to convince Francis to take him.