Activity Slows In The NHL Offseason Trade Market
A look at some intriguing offseason trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently listed 6 intriguing players who could still get traded this offseason.
He begins with Shayne Gostisbehere, noting the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly made the puck-moving defenseman available earlier in the offseason. Matt Niskanen’s sudden retirement and the Flyers’ subsequent addition of Erik Gustafsson (who plays a similar style to Gostisbehere) leaves the 26-year-old blueliner’s status uncertain in Philadelphia. Wegman suggested the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings as potential landing spots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ and Jets’ limited cap space means the Flyers would have to take back some salary to move Gostisbehere to either of those clubs. Cap Friendly indicates he has three years remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million annually. The Kings can afford him but general manager Rob Blake already acquired Olli Maatta from Chicago and could be content to promote from within.
Wegman noted the trade speculation swirling around Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine. He pointed out Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will want either a top-six center or top-four defenseman as part of the return. The Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild are possible destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres landed Taylor Hall via free agency so I doubt they’re in the market for Laine. The Hurricanes could be a good fit but I don’t see them parting with any of their top-four defensemen plus they lack the depth in centers to pry Laine away from the Jets. The Wild need a proven top-line center, not a left-winger, so I don’t think they’re a fit.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they reportedly placed Jake Gardiner on the trade block. He’s tumbled down their depth chart and carries a $4.05 million cap hit, but could be a top-four defenseman for clubs like the Jets, Florida Panthers or New York Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner’s contract runs through 2022-23 so the Hurricanes will either have to absorb part of that cap hit or take back salary to make this work. The Panthers and Jets are looking for more defensive-minded options, plus the latter has limited cap space. I don’t see the Rangers taking on his contract.
Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors for some time, prompting Wegman to wonder if new Sabres GM Kevyn Adams might find a taker for him. The Sabres have a logjam at right defense and moving one of their right-side blueliners to the left side isn’t ideal. Wegman suggested the Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Jets as possible landing spots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most reports out of Buffalo on Ristolainen suggested he was no longer on the trade block because head coach Ralph Krueger thinks highly of him. If so, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s need to shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev have Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson on Wegman’s list. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list, making him somewhat easier to move. Johnson has a full no-trade clause but is willing to work with the Lightning to work out a trade, but there were no takers for his $5 million AAV when he was placed on waivers. They’ll have to include a sweetener to move him. The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators or Panthers could be destinations for one of them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit has the salary-cap space plus former Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is now the Red Wings’ GM. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if Killorn or Johnson would accept a trade to a rebuilding club like the Wings or the Senators.
The Panthers also have the cap space but could be unwilling to spend much higher than they already have. They could also be trying to woo back free agent Mike Hoffman. We also don’t know if Killorn or Johnson would accept getting traded to the Lightning’s less-successful rival.
The latest on the Flyers, Islanders and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is still actively talking to teams, but the flattened salary cap is making it difficult to add players to his roster.
“This is the most difficult offseason that I’ve ever seen,” said Fletcher. He feels the NHL is entering the Flat Cap Era. “As crazy as it is right now out there, I think next summer could be even worse in terms of having some paralysis in the market, and having just too many teams having to move money.”
Fletcher is also focused on the long term. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim will be restricted free agents next summer while Scott Laughton is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Sean Couturier is two years away from UFA eligibility.
Carchidi observers forwards such as Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou remain available in the UFA market. However, he doesn’t know if Fletcher will pursue one of them.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wondered what the Flyers’ recent signing of Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $3-million contract means for Shayne Gostisbehere. Both defensemen play a similar offensive-minded style. While Gustafsson’s addition doesn’t guarantee Gostisbehere will be traded, Hall suggests it increases the possibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap could make it more difficult for the Flyers to move Gostisbehere. As per Cap Friendly, the 27-year-old blueliner has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.5 million.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports unrestricted free agents Andy Greene and Matt Martin are expected to return with the New York Islanders. The Isles could also be in the market for a bargain third-line winger. He listed Derick Brassard, Carl Soderberg, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Sheahan among forwards who might be available for the right price.
Staple added there’s nothing new regarding a recent rumor suggesting the Isles were close to trading defenseman Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV for next season. He speculates perhaps the Isles could interest the New Jersey Devils in winger Leo Komarov, who has a $3 million cap hit for the next two years. Staple also thinks Andrew Ladd is a likely LTIR candidate given his recent injury history.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders have $8.9 million in cap space, but a new contract for RFA center Mathew Barzal will likely eat up most of that, while defenseman Ryan Pulock is also due for a significant raise. Pulock has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Nov. 6.
GM Lou Lamoriello must shed salary to re-sign Barzal and Pulock and bring back Greene and Martin. Moving Boychuk could alleviate much of that cap concern, but Lamoriello could be forced to include a draft pick, prospect or young NHL player in the deal.
WGR 550: Brayton J. Wilson believes the Buffalo Sabres should revisit the idea of trading defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to provide themselves sufficient salary-cap flexibility for next season. The Sabres have a projected $13.645 million available but most of that will be taken up re-signing RFAs such as Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Casey Mittelstadt and Linus Ullmark and perhaps bring back Dominik Kahun after he wasn’t extended a qualifying offer.
Ristolainen, 25, has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.4 million. Wilson feels it may be worthwhile under the current economic conditions to move the blueliner for less than market value, pointing to the Vegas Golden Knights accepting a third-round pick in 2022 from the Vancouver Canucks for Nate Schmidt.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ristolainen trade rumors had the Sabres attempting to move him in exchange for a scoring forward. That need has been addressed with the additions of Taylor Hall and Eric Staal.
It might be easier to move Ristolainen for a draft pick in a cost-cutting deal, but that’s assuming GM Kevyn Adams is willing to move him. Head coach Ralph Krueger apparently thinks highly of the Finnish blueliner and his opinion seems to carry considerable weight within the Sabres’ organization. Ristolainen probably won’t be shopped if Krueger wants him in the fold for next season.
The latest on Patrik Laine, Tyler Johnson and Matt Murray plus updates on the Leafs and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE LATEST ON LAINE
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk the Philadelphia Flyers are making “an aggressive push” to acquire Patrik Laine. He believes they have the ability to make a deal for the left-winger if the right fit can be found with the Winnipeg Jets.
A league executive speculated the Flyers could see if the Jets have an interest in Shayne Gostisbehere. The defenseman has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. The Jets could also want a second-line center as part of the return.
Garrioch said the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens are believed to have made pitches for Laine. He thinks the Jets would want center Phillip Danault in return. He also claims the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers all have interest in the winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Jets would be interested in Gostisbehere given the decline in his stock over the last two years. Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim would be more to their liking and I don’t see the Flyers parting with either guy in a package deal for Laine.
The Blue Jackets need more offense but I believe they’re more interested in landing a scoring center. I suspect the Jets could ask for Zach Werenski as part of the return. Recent reports out of Montreal suggest Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin isn’t pursuing Laine because of the high asking price. Of course, he could always change his mind.
LIGHTNING DISCUSSING TRADE WITH JOHNSON
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports hearing the Tampa Bay Lightning have talked to Tyler Johnson’s representatives about working together on a possible trade. The 30-year-old forward has a full no-trade clause and four years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. “Let’s see where this goes,” said LeBrun.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk Johnson has no interest in waiving his clause. If not, other trade options could include Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn. CapFriendly indicates Palat and Gourde also have full no-trade clauses while Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list.
UPDATE ON MURRAY
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s a chance the Pittsburgh Penguins will trade Matt Murray before the draft ends on Wednesday. If not, he’ll receive a qualifying offer from the Penguins. Garrioch believes Murray will get $5 million to $6 million via arbitration. The Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators have kicked tires on Murray. It’s believed the Penguins would prefer shipping him to a Western Conference club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored the Penguins sought a first-round pick from the Oilers for Murray. That asking price could explain why he hasn’t been traded yet. The deadline for qualifying offers is Oct. 7 at 5 pm ET.
THE LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports of ongoing speculation of a Matt Murray/Jack Campbell reunion with the Maple Leafs. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas had Murray and Campbell as his goalie tandem when he was general manager of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds in 2011-12.
Hornby feels Dubas can’t afford to lose current Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen to free agency next summer. Signing Murray, 26, for the long-term would be preferable to doing the same for the 31-year-old Andersen. However, Hornby wonders if Dubas envisions Campbell becoming the Leafs’ No. 1 goalie, which would put less pressure on him to find a replacement for Andersen.
Regarding rumors linking the Leafs to Alex Pietrangelo, Hornby doubts they can free up sufficient cap space to sign the St. Louis Blues defenseman if he hits the open market on Friday. He points out Morgan Rielly is slated for a new contract in 2022, making him difficult to re-sign if they invest heavily in Pietrangelo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas reportedly told Andersen that he’s received calls from other clubs expressing interest in the Leafs starter but he’s not shopping the netminder. I don’t believe Dubas will trade him unless he can get a suitable replacement. That might not be Murray, who’s struggled with injuries and consistency over the last two seasons.
Unless Pietrangelo’s willing to accept a one- or two-year deal, I don’t see him coming to Toronto. Even then, it wouldn’t make sense for the Leafs to shed a lot of cap space to invest in him on a short-term basis.
IS A BIG MOVE COMING FOR THE FLAMES?
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson thinks Flames GM Brad Treliving will make a splash this week. It could be a blockbuster trade, a marquee free-agent signing, or both. Treliving has $17 million in cap space and some top-end talents rumored to be trade bait.
Gilbertson believes the Flames GM has an interest in Jacob Markstrom. The Vancouver Canucks goalie is slated to become a UFA on Friday and could see a deal equivalent to the five-year, $25-million contract that Robin Lehner inked Saturday with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Flames have also been linked to Alex Pietrangelo, but Gilbertson suggests Vancouver blueliner Chris Tanev would be a more affordable option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames will be worth watching this week. There was considerable disappointment in their performance this season and in the playoffs. There was talk of shopping a top-line forward like Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan but Treliving could be unwilling to go that route right now.
They definitely need to improve their goaltending if Cam Talbot isn’t re-signed. Markstrom or Braden Holtby could be on their radar. I also don’t see them landing Pietrangelo but I don’t think Tanev is the right fit. Treliving could go the trade route to address his blueline needs.
The latest on Jack Eichel, Torey Krug, Taylor and Shayne Gostisbehere in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TEAMS CALLING ABOUT EICHEL
WGR 550: Brayton J. Wilson cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting yesterday hearing what he called “unverified chatter” claiming Jack Eichel requested a trade from the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers were among the interested teams. Eichel’s agent, Peter Fish, told McKenzie his client doesn’t want out of Buffalo.
McKenzie also said several clubs have contacted Kevyn Adams since he took over as Sabres GM to inquire about Eichel’s availability. The Rangers were believed to be among those teams.
None of those talks discussions generated any trade traction involving the 23-year-old center. The Sabres aren’t shopping Eichel and there’s no real desire to trade their captain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t fault general managers from calling to see if Eichel might be available. He has expressed frustration over the years of constant losing but his agent insists his client wants to make things work in Buffalo. The Sabres remain committed to building around their captain. Their recent acquisition of Eric Staal as their new second-line center is an obvious example.
LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Darren Hartwell reports of speculation the Bruins could trade the rights of Torey Krug. The 29-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. The Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings are said to be potential suitors for Krug’s contract rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems unlikely the Bruins will re-sign Krug unless he’s willing to accept less than market value. TSN’s Frank Seravalli said hearing they offered a six-year deal worth $6.5 million annually but Krug apparently feels he get better offers on the open market. They could shop his rights before Oct. 9 if they can get a decent draft pick in return.
The Avalanche and Wings have the cap space to sign Krug. The Golden Knights have just $4.9 million available with goaltender Robin Lehner to re-sign or replace. The Panthers have $59.7 million invested in 12 players and there’s talk they could set an internal cap of $70 million. Neither club has the cap room at the moment to take on an expensive free agent like Krug.
Nick Goss, meanwhile, cited TSN’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Taylor Hall might be a good fit with the Bruins. The 28-year-old Arizona Coyotes left winger is also a pending UFA. Seravalli wondered what the Bruins will do with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk, adding they won’t need to re-sign him if they pursue Hall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Goss believes Hall would be a great fit alongside center David Krejci on the Bruins second line, his injury history and the cost of signing him (Goss suggests six years at $7 million per) makes him an expensive gamble. He also pointed the Bruins would still have to address the absence of Krug on their blueline.
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting sources claiming Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is available in the offseason trade market. He has three seasons remaining on his contract worth an annual value of $4.25 million. An injury limited the 27-year-old blueliner to 42 games last season and he was also a frequent healthy scratch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams seeking a skilled puck-moving defenseman could take a chance on “Ghost Bear”. He’s got an affordable contract that could be appealing to cap-strapped clubs.
The latest on Steven Stamkos and Jimmy Howard in this morning’s NHL headlines, plus updates on the Devils, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in the NHL rumor mill.
NHL MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Steven Stamkos is inching closer to returning to action, but he doesn’t expect his captain to suit up for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Dallas Stars. Stamkos has been sidelined since July with a core-muscle issue.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to continue his NHL playing career but acknowledged it probably won’t be with the Red Wings. Howard, 36, is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are likely in the market for a starting goaltender, something Howard is no longer capable of being. He could land elsewhere on a one-year deal as a backup and mentor to a younger starter.
TSN: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Albert (Junior) Langlois passed away over the weekend at age 85. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens from 1957 to 1961, winning three Stanley Cups. He also spent three seasons with the New York Rangers, two with the Boston Bruins, and one with the Detroit Red Wings, followed by one season with the WHL before retiring in 1967.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Langlois’ family, friends and former teammates.
NHL RUMOR MILL
TSN RADIO VANCOUVER: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro speculated Devils defenseman Damon Severson may have “soured” in New Jersey. Ferraro noted Severson is a right-hand shot, praising his skating and shot. He believes the 26-year-old blueliner would be more affordable than Minnesota’s Matt Dumba if the Devils are willing to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have been quiet since hiring Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager in early July. Their most notable move since then was hiring Mark Recchi earlier this month as an assistant coach.
We don’t know if Fitzgerald has any intention of shopping Severson, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.166 million and lacking no-trade protection. The Devils have $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Unless they have an internal cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million, Fitzgerald won’t be under pressure to shed salary. Nevertheless, it could be worth keeping an eye on Severson and the Devils in the coming weeks as activity builds up in the trade market.
PHILLY.com‘s Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers will try to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger James van Riemsdyk. He believes Gostisbehere will draw more interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are signed through 2022-23 and lack no-trade protection. Gostisbehere, however, carries an annual average value of $4.5 million while van Riemsdyk’s is $7 million. So yeah, there will probably be more interest in Ghost Bear than JVR in this economic climate.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators will receive plenty of calls from clubs looking to shed contracts in exchange for draft picks. The Sens have nine picks in the first three rounds and 13 in total.
Garrioch doesn’t expect them to take on bad contracts but maybe they can use this situation to their advantage to bolster their roster. It’s believed they’ve been in talks for a veteran goalie, including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes could also be shopping goaltenders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sens have three first-round picks, including the third and fifth overall, in this year’s draft. I don’t see them moving either of those (or both) unless they’re getting a terrific player in return. They could, however, entertain offers for the first-rounder they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade at the February trade deadline.
The Blue Jackets could move either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. The Coyotes, meanwhile, could shop Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Carolina Hurricanes carrying limited salary-cap space next season, Sara Civian wondered if they’ll go the free-agent or trade route to upgrade their goaltending.
Free-agent options could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, though Civian doesn’t expect an encore with the Hurricanes for the latter. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, she suggests the Hurricanes look into acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury.
Civian wondered what they’d be willing to trade for a goalie. Jaccob Slavin is off-limits, they don’t want to trade Brett Pesce or Martin Necas, and she doesn’t believe they’d move Dougie Hamilton even though he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Hurricanes can become a Cup contender next season with their current goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Maybe they ride it out for another season with those two until their contracts expire next summer, but if the front office is serious about building a contender, they must look to the trade or free-agent market for an upgrade.