NHL Rumor Mill – March 7, 2019
Should the Flyers target Artemi Panarin this summer? Were they close to trading Shayne Gostisbehere? What are Mats Zuccarello’s free-agent plans? Get the details, plus a look at how the NHL plans to block expansion draft circumvention, in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE FLYERS PURSUE PANARIN?
NBC SPORTS: John Boruk believes Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin may be atop Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher’s free-agent wish list. Fletcher said his club will have lots of salary-cap space this summer even after re-signing some key players. Boruk feels the Flyers have been lacking a true scoring forward since Simon Gagne’s heyday, suggesting Fletcher should offer up a second- or third-round draft pick to the Blue Jackets in June for Panarin’s exclusive negotiating rights. He acknowledged it could cost around $10 million per season to sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have over $46.8 million invested in 13 players for 2019-20, with Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Cam Talbot, Brian Elliott, and Michael Raffl as their noteworthy free agents. Assuming they’re all re-signed, they should still have plenty of cap space to make a big splash in this summer’s UFA market. Goaltending has long been their Achilles’ Heel, but rookie Carter Hart shows promise and they’ll likely keep Talbot or Elliott as his backup for next season.
The Flyers are sitting 12th in goals-for per game this season (3.01) and those stats might have been higher had James van Riemsdyk not been sidelined earlier in the season and now-departed Wayne Simmonds hadn’t struggled following off-season pelvic surgery. It wouldn’t hurt to have another scorer in the mix to help take some of the load off Claude Giroux, Jakob Voracek, and Sean Couturier.
“GHOST BEAR” STAYING PUT?
Boruk’s colleague Jordan Hall noted Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere popped up in trade rumors leading up to the recent trade deadline. He was puzzled over why anyone would assume the Flyers would shop Gostisbehere “He’s 25 years old, he’s elusive, he’s dexterous and he gets the puck out of the defensive zone and up the ice. Oh, and he’s under contract through 2022-23 on a cost-effective deal. Sounds pretty good.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The very traits Hall noted about “Ghost Bear” explains why he surfaced in the rumor mill. Fletcher also said he was willing to consider all his options after taking over as Flyers GM, which may have spurred a rival or two to see if he was willing to move Gostisbehere. Anything’s possible and I wonder if Fletcher might be tempted if someone offered up a scoring forward. If not, I think Gostisbehere stays put.
UPDATE ON ZUCCARELLO
NHL.COM: In a recent interview with Mike Heika, Dallas Stars winger Mats Zuccarello played coy over his plans for this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. While currently sidelined by a broken arm, Zuccarello said he’s enjoying his tenure thus far with his new club and looks forward to returning to action later in the month, He adds he hasn’t given much thought about free agency, saying he intends to let things play out before reaching a decision on re-signing or testing the market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: How well Zuccarello performs upon his return to the Stars and if he can help them reach the playoffs could have an effect upon whether or not he stays beyond this season.
NO PARKING ON GOLDEN KNIGHTS IN SEATTLE EXPANSION DRAFT
THE SCORE: Eric Patterson cited NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly telling The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun the league will take steps to ensure teams won’t attempt the use the Vegas Golden Knights as a means of circumventing the Seattle expansion draft. The Golden Knights won’t be participating in that draft, raising concerns some teams could make deals with them to get around the protected-player list. Daly said the league must approve all transactions and teams won’t be allowed to park players on Vegas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, a team can’t send a player to the Golden Knights to avoid losing him in the expansion draft and then re-acquire him when the draft is over, or ship that player to Vegas for some kind of return rather than losing him to the draft for nothing. It doesn’t appear the league intends to implement a trade freeze but they will likely pay closer attention to deals involving the Golden Knights leading up to the draft.