NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2021
NOTE: A freeze on trades, waivers and contract signings goes into effect at 3 pm ET today and runs through 1 pm ET on Thursday, July 22. Teams are required to submit their expansion draft protections lists by 5 pm ET today.
COULD THE BLUE JACKETS RETAIN JONES?
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are letting it be known they don’t have to trade Seth Jones this summer. They’ve set a high asking price, seeking a combination of young NHL players, prospects and draft picks. However, it doesn’t appear they’re getting any offers to their liking for the 26-year-old defenseman.
Portzline, however, still believes Jones will be moved this summer, in part to avoid the risk of a season-ending injury before next season’s trade deadline. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are said to be interested in the blueliner, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Jackets have not yet granted any team permission to speak with Jones about a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring something significant today, the earliest Jones could get traded is heading into next weekend’s NHL draft following the expansion draft on Wednesday.
LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION
TVA SPORTS: listed six candidates for the Montreal Canadiens to pursue as a potential replacement for Shea Weber. The 35-year-old defenseman could miss all of next season recovering from various injuries.
Seth Jones topped the list, following by Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie and Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton. Edmonton’s Adam Larsson, Calgary’s Mark Giordano and Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen rounded out the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones, Giordano and Ristolainen would be available in the trade market. Barrie, Hamilton and Larsson are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.
Jones would be the best option but Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could balk at their asking price. Jones’ apparent unwillingness to ink a contract extension takes him out of the equation.
Giordano would be a worthwhile short-term addition but his status remains uncertain. The Flames could leave him exposed in the expansion draft, where the Seattle Kraken could claim him. That’s assuming he isn’t moved before today’s trade freeze.
Barrie and Hamilton would provide plenty of offense from the blueline but their respective defensive games are average at best. Each will cost a lot to sign. Larsson would be a good fit defensively but the Oilers are said to be working on a new contract for him. Ristolainen could be available but it’s uncertain if he could handle the pressure of playing in Montreal. Like Jones, he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.
TSN 690 reported it could prove expensive for the Canadiens to swing a side deal to ensure the Seattle Kraken don’t select Jake Allen. The asking price is said to be a quality prospect and a second or a third-round pick. The Kraken would also accept a first-round pick and a selection later in the draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Bergevin paid either price to keep Allen in the fold. He could also attempt to trade the backup to another club before today’s trade freeze if he’s that concerned about losing him to the Kraken.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday he thinks the Canadiens will let Phillip Danault test the free-agent market. They’re willing to keep the door open to him to come back after he’s heard from other clubs. They made an offer last offseason but it was rejected.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That offer was reportedly a six-year, $30 million contract extension. He might get more than that on the open market after his strong defensive play in the postseason.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS FOR SUTER AND PARISE
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo suggested the New York Islanders could be a destination for former Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise. He has a soft spot for the Islanders as his late father, J.P. Parise, played for them in the 1970s. The Vegas Golden Knights may have also reached out to him.
Russo believes former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will have more options via free agency than Parise. He’s still a capable top-four defenseman who can log big minutes. Suter’s a proud American so it would be surprising if he signed with a Canadian team.
Possible destinations could include the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche. Others could include the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.
Arthur Staple thinks Suter would be a good fit with the Islanders following their Friday trade of Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings. He played for Isles coach Barry Trotz during their days with the Nashville Predators. However, he could prove more expensive to sign him compared to Parise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also speculated over the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins reuniting Parise and Suter with Brian Burke in their front office. However, I don’t think that’s something GM Ron Hextall will pursue.
The Islanders attempted to acquire Parise at the 2020 trade deadline but the deal fell through because they couldn’t get the dollars to work with the Wild. I can see him inking an affordable one-year deal with the Isles provided there’s enough cap space after re-signing Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, Ilya Sorokin and perhaps Casey Cizikas.
Suter won’t lack suitors. He’ll want to sign with a Stanley Cup contender and could be a fit for those with limited cap space. I’ll be surprised if he hasn’t signed with someone by the end of the opening day of free agency on July 28.
UPDATE ON THE CANUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby is drawing interest from the Seattle Kraken and other teams around the league. At least one team from the Eastern Conference and one from the Western Conference are believed among the suitors.
Holtby’s salary for next season could be a stumbling block. He carries an annual average value of $4.3 million but he’ll earn $5.7 million in actual salary in 2021-22. The Kraken are said to have inquired if the Canucks will retain some salary in a side deal.
The Canucks are said to have a real interest in Zach Hyman. The Toronto Maple Leafs left winger is slated to become a UFA on July 28 and has been granted permission to speak with other clubs. Contract term, however, is said to be an issue.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s looking to make a trade to “move some money.” It’s understood the Canucks are trying to find a new home for defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was acquired last fall from the Vegas Golden Knights. Holtby and perhaps Loui Eriksson could be trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby’s performance has declined in recent years but some clubs could see him as an experienced backup option. The Canucks might have to absorb some salary or take back a bad contract to move him. Maybe they can swing a three-team deal where they bundle a draft pick with Holtby to another team to pick up part of his cap hit.
Hyman, 29, could seek a maximum seven-year contract. That’s a risky signing for any team given his age. Schmidt should have some value among clubs seeking blueline depth but his contract ($5.95 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and 10-team no-trade list) could be a tough sell.