Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 4, 2021
Some recent Seth Jones speculation plus updates on the Islanders, Rangers and Red Wings in Sunday’s roundup of NHL rumors.
LATEST ON SETH JONES
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has heard from “just about every GM in the league” regarding Seth Jones. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are believed the front-runners to land the prized defenseman.
Portzline brought up the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018 as a possible comparable. While Jones is a better all-around defenseman, Karlsson had a more impressive career at that point with two Norris Trophies on his resume. He anticipates the Jackets will get a smaller return for Jones than what the Senators got for Karlsson.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now cited a league source claiming the Toronto Maple Leafs were among the clubs interested in Jones from the beginning. He also believes Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman could be up to something.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Jones could also be interested in going to a team where he can play a leadership role. He could get that opportunity on teams like the Blackhawks, Kings and Flyers where there could be a turnover in veteran leadership in the next couple of years as contracts expire.
The Leafs could’ve kicked tires on Jones. I doubt they have sufficient cap room to sign him to a long-term contract extension or sufficient resources to outbid the clubs listed by Portzline.
With plenty of cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects, the Red Wings have the assets to make a competitive bid for Jones. However, they could also be on the blueliner’s 10-team no-trade list. The Wings could certainly use someone like Jones but he might not be keen to join a team still in the midst of a rebuild.
UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, RANGERS AND RED WINGS
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently proposed the Islanders need to land a reliable scoring winger for Mathew Barzal’s line. He believes they need someone “more dynamic and reliable than (Jordan) Eberle,” who has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. They could leave him exposed in the upcoming expansion draft but there’s no certainty the Seattle Kraken will take him.
He also wondered if they might move defenseman Nick Leddy. That would free up $5.5 million of cap space to find an upper-echelon talent to skate alongside Barzal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need more scoring punch up front. They were 21st overall during the regular season. Eberle had four goals and 11 points in 19 playoff games this year but at 31 he doesn’t have many productive years left. As Brooks pointed out, they must improve the quality of talent on Barzal’s right side.
The Islanders could also try to move Eberle and/or Leddy simply to free up cap room to re-sign restricted free agents Ilya Sorokin, Adam Pelech and Anthony Beauvillier. Perhaps they cut a deal with the Kraken to take one or the other. Maybe they get shopped to other clubs this summer.
Brooks doesn’t think the Rangers have room on their roster to add an unrestricted free agent such as Montreal’s Phillip Danault or Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow. He also doesn’t see them pursuing Toronto’s Zach Hyman because of their depth on left wing. To address the club’s deficiencies, he feels GM Chris Drury can’t add players without subtracting in two-for-one or three-for-one deals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the Rangers are being linked to Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in the rumor mill. They have the depth in young assets to bundle into solid trade offers for an established young center or power forward. We’ll find out over the coming weeks if Drury will make that kind of move.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen speculates the Red Wings could use their plentiful cap space this summer to acquire good contracts or players that have to be moved by cap-strapped teams. He thinks Yzerman will call the St. Louis Blues about Vince Dunn. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild could also shop a defenseman to cut costs or because they can’t protect them in the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman also has 11 picks in the 2021 draft, including two in the first round, three in the second and two in each of the following three rounds. He could draw upon them as bait for clubs looking to moving a blueliner leading up to the draft weekend (July 23-24).