NHL Rumor Mill – September 26, 2020
The latest on Patrik Laine and Marc-Andre Fleury plus an update on the Coyotes and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT WOULD IT COST TO ACQUIRE LAINE?
SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Ken Wiebe was asked about the trade speculation surrounding Patrik Laine. He isn’t ignoring the possibility of the 22-year-old Winnipeg Jets winger getting traded However, he considers it a long shot unless general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff gets blown away by an offer.
Wiebe said the Jets would like to re-sign Laine, who’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. However, the flattened salary cap will affect those negotiations. Laine could command as much (or more) than captain Blake Wheeler’s $8.25 million annual average value if he takes another step forward in his development next season. If common ground can’t be reached, the trade talks could heat up next summer.
THE SCORE: Matt Teague and Brandon Maron listed the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild as five possible trade destinations for Laine.
From the Avs, they suggested a return of defensemen Ryan Graves or Nikita Zadorov, blueline prospect Connor Timmons and center Tyson Jost. From the Hurricanes, Vincent Trocheck and Brett Pesce. From the Blue Jackets, defenseman David Savard, winger Josh Anderson, and a 2021 third-round pick. From the Devils, defenseman Damon Severson, forward Pavel Zacha, and Vancouver’s 2020 first-round pick. From the Wild, defenseman Matt Dumba, center Joel Eriksson Ek, and the conditional 2021 first-round pick from Pittsburgh.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes the Canadiens are in a position to make an attractive pitch. He suggests offering up Max Domi, defenseman Brett Kulak and either Cale Fleury or Noah Juulsen, and the Canadiens’ first-round pick (16th overall).
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Duhatschek believes the Jackets would have to part with Seth Jones or Zach Werenski to acquire Laine, which he doesn’t see them going. He feels Hurricanes blueliner Pesce would be more attractive to the Jets than Dougie Hamilton, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Laine to Minnesota for Dumba also makes some sense, though the Wild’s biggest need is at center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That sound you’re hearing is most Jets fans panning those proposed deals. Justifiably so. The return for Laine would have to be significant, which those suggested returns are not. However, those proposals also illustrate the difficulty Cheveldayoff could face getting a quality package for Laine. As talented as the young winger is, and as much upside as he has, getting equal or greater value won’t be easy.
When the Laine rumors first surfaced earlier this month, one Winnipeg sportswriter said the return better be someone of the equivalent of Buffalo’s Jack Eichel. I agree with the sentiment, but the reality is that type of return is rarely received in trades involving stars like Laine.
Hanging over all this, of course, is Laine’s contract status at the end of 2020-21. If Cheveldayoff doesn’t believe he can afford to re-sign the winger, perhaps he’ll feel it’s best to move him now instead of having contract talks become an unnecessary distraction over the course of next season.
FLEURY PREFERS STAYING IN VEGAS
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Jesse Granger reporting Marc-Andre Fleury prefers staying with the Vegas Golden Knights. The 36-year-old goaltender said he’s loved the city and the team from the moment he arrived. It’s believed the Golden Knights could re-sign Robin Lehner, making Fleury potentially expendable. He said he gets along fine with Lehner and is open to splitting the goaltending duties with him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights only have $4.94 million in salary-cap space for 2020-21. They’ll need more than that to re-sign Lehner. They’ll have to shed salary and Fleury would be the most likely trade candidate. Moving his $7 million annual average value over the next two seasons won’t be easy, but it could be done by perhaps retaining a portion of it.
LATEST COYOTES RUMORS
ARIZONA COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports it’s not a certainty the Coyotes will trade goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Before the hiring of general manager Bill Armstrong, it was believed the asking price for Kuemper was a first-round pick. However, it appears they now want more than that. If the Coyotes cannot maximize the return on an asset like Kuemper, Morgan feels they should hang onto him.
Morgan also noted Niklas Hjalmarsson won’t waive his no-movement clause. While we have to wait-and-see on Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Morgan senses the blueliner’s camp is open to a change of scenery.
Center Derek Stepan and defensemen Jason Demers could be attractive to rival clubs. In addition to goalie Antti Raanta, Morgan suggests keeping an eye on forward Michael Grabner and defenseman Alex Goligoski. He cites sources indicating Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Buffalo, Detroit and Los Angeles are among his eight-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson has a full no-movement clause and reportedly loves living in Arizona. Nevertheless, it’s noteworthy that he could be open to a trade, though I daresay it’ll be a short list made up of playoff or Stanley Cup contenders.
UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he’s not interested in trading Brian Dumoulin or Marcus Pettersson. He expects recently acquired defenseman Mike Matheson will play on the left side. Rutherford also said Jack Johnson will have to compete for the sixth defenseman’s role, and he doesn’t plan to be active in the free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Johnson doesn’t nail down that role he could be shopped or demoted, with the latter the most likely option.