NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2024
More info on the Devils’ attempt to acquire Jacob Markstrom, Sabres GM Kevyn Adams denies shopping Casey Mittelstadt, Boone Jenner wants to remain with the Blue Jackets, plus the latest on the Flyers and Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
REPORT CLAIMS DEVILS AND FLAMES WERE CLOSE TO A DEAL ON MARKSTROM
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cites Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting Calgary Flames management recently approached goaltender Jacob Markstrom about waiving his no-movement clause to accept a trade to the New Jersey Devils.
Seravalli doesn’t think there were any issues on Markstrom’s part about joining the Devils. Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that the two sides were in agreement on a deal that would’ve worked for both sides, with Devils forward Alexander Holtz believed to be part of the return to the Flames.
Friedman indicated the deal fell apart over the issue of the Flames retaining part of Markstrom’s $6 million average annual value through 2025-26. Seravalli doubts the deal can be revived as the Devils are looking elsewhere for goaltending help.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Markstrom were an unrestricted free agent this summer or next perhaps the Flames might’ve been more agreeable to retaining part of his salary cap hit. Having part of his cap hit on their books for the remainder of this season plus the next two wasn’t something they seemed keen to do.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
Appearing Tuesday on “Schopp and the Bulldog”, Adams praised the versatile 25-year-old forward, who leads the Sabres with 43 points this season. He also indicated that he hopes to work toward a contract for Mittelstadt and get him signed.
Mittelstadt is due to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt’s contract status plus the fact several of his teammates have already signed long-term contracts sparked speculation he could be shopped because the Sabres didn’t want to sign him.
Adams could be tempted if a rival GM made an enticing pitch for Mittelstadt. However, I’m taking him at face value when he says he wants to re-sign him. Bear in mind that Mittelstadt’s RFA status means his rights still belong to the Sabres so Adams is under no pressure to move him by the March 8 trade deadline.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Speaking of the Sabres, Lance Lysowski reports Victor Olofsson is remaining patient while awaiting a trade. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and has been the subject of trade speculation this season.
Moving Olofsson could be tricky. His production is down this season, he’s been a frequent healthy scratch and he carries a $4.75 million cap hit.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Michael DeRosa cited The Fourth Period claiming the Colorado Avalanche have been linked to Olofsson. They need depth at center but DeRosa thinks they could also use more scoring among their bottom six.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres might have to retain half of Olofsson’s cap hit to move him by the March 8 trade deadline. Even that might not fetch much of a return.
JENNER WANTS TO STAY WITH THE BLUE JACKETS
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner has become a wanted man in this season’s trade market. However, the 30-year-old forward made it clear that he doesn’t want to be traded.
Jenner said he wants to be part of the rebuilding roster’s development. He acknowledged there’s a lot of work to be done but believes they can get it done.
A versatile, hardworking forward, Jenner carries an affordable $3.75 million AAV through 2025-26. That contract along with his style of game makes him attractive to playoff contenders. However, Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said it would take an over-the-top offer before he would consider trading his captain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jenner also seems keen to spend his entire NHL career with the Blue Jackets. That might change in a couple of years when he becomes eligible for UFA status if the Jackets haven’t improved by then.
If Kekalainen gets replaced at the end of this season a new GM could have designs on trading Jenner, who carries an eight-team no-trade clause. For now, however, it seems unlikely that he’ll be moved by the March 8 trade deadline.
THE LATEST ON SEAN WALKER
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella recently said that his club isn’t shopping defenseman Sean Walker. However, Tortorella thinks they’d be dopes if they didn’t listen to offers, adding they’d move him if it made sense for the organization.
Walker’s been the Flyers most consistent defenseman this season. Moving him would hurt their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ acquisition of Jamie Drysdale has heightened anticipation that Walker could be traded. However, Kurz cited Tortorella saying the 21-year-old Drysdale remains a work in progress.
Kurz noted the Flyers have been carrying eight defensemen. One way to address this would be to trade Rasmus Ristolainen while attempting to re-sign Walker and defense partner Nick Seeler. While Ristolainen is on The Athletic’s trade board, any deal would involve the Flyers retaining part of his $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27. Walker, however, is simply more valuable in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decision would be easier for Flyers management if the club was out of playoff contention. However, they’re holding on to third place in the Metropolitan Division. GM Daniel Briere said that wouldn’t affect his decision to make trades for the future but he could be feeling pressure from ownership to keep this group intact for the rest of the season.
I’ll be very surprised if Briere can find a taker for Ristolainen. While his play has improved under Tortorella’s coaching, his cap hit is a significant obstacle in the path to a trade.
UPDATE ON THE OILERS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s recent appearance on “Oilers Now” telling Bob Stauffer that Oilers top prospect Philip Broberg could factor into the club’s plans for the trade deadline.
Seravalli wasn’t talking about the Oilers shopping Broberg, who’s spent most of this season with their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Instead, he believes that Brober is now NHL-ready. That could give them the flexibility to move out other players.
Staples speculates blueliner Brett Kulak could be that player. While the Oilers like Kulak, Daily Faceoff pointed out that replacing him with Broberg represents an immediate $2 million in cap savings.