NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2020

Updates on the Jets and Leafs, plus the latest speculation about Matt Dumba and Brandon Saad in today’s NHL rumor mill.

JETS TRADE OPTIONS

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman believes the Jets have money to spend in this offseason with Dustin Byfuglien and Dmitry Kulikov off the books and the uncertainty over center Bryan Little’s future following last season’s serious injury. He feels they don’t have to trade away a young star like Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers unless they’re getting a star player without a no-trade clause or a big-minute defenseman and a two-way, top-six center in return.

Wyman suggests general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff dangle the Jets’ first-round pick (10th overall) in this year’s draft and young players like Jack Roslovic, Sami Niku and Kristian Vesalainen. He thinks they could get something good, like Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. Failing that, Wyman proposed pursuing unrestricted free agents like Travis Hamonic, Brenden Dillon or T.J. Brodie on defense, Mikhail Granlund, Alex Galchenyuk or Derick Brassard at center.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe listed Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli or Tyler Johnson, Montreal’s Phillip Danault, Florida’s Erik Haula, Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick, Vegas’ Paul Stastny and the New York Islanders Derick Brassard as possible trade targets to address their second-line center need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Cheveldayoff moves Laine or Ehlers. Wyman’s proposals won’t land a superstar but I agree the Jets could get one or two good players from cap-strapped teams. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports they’re believed to have some interest in Dumba, but they don’t have a top-six center to entice the Wild.

Looking at Wiebe’s list, I don’t see the Lightning trading Cirelli and doubt Cheveldayoff will try to go the offer-sheet route to get him. Johnson, however, could be available but he’ll have to waive his no-trade clause. I don’t see the Canadiens parting with Danault. If they do, they’ll want a scoring winger in return.

Haula has been hampered by injuries. Patrick’s been dealing with a migraine disorder that cost him the entire 2019-20 season. Stastny was effective in his short tenure with the Jets in 2018 but the 34-year-old performance has declined since then. Brassard seems best suited for checking-line duty now.

LEAFS GM MUST GET CREATIVE TO ADDRESS DEFENSE ISSUES

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes there are blue-line options out there for Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, but he’ll have to get creative to acquire them. Given the Leafs limited cap space, he doesn’t expect they’ll sign St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market.

Koshan assumes Dubas will acquire a right-shot rearguard. Free-agent options include Sami Vatanen, Travis Hamonic, Dylan DeMelo, Justin Schultz and Chris Tanev. He also wonders if Dubas will take another look at Zach Bogosian, who’s played well for the Tampa Bay Lightning in this year’s playoffs.

Dubas could make a splash in the trade market by shopping William Nylander but Koshan doubts he’ll do that. Trade chips could include Andreas Johnsson or Alexander Kerfoot, or perhaps the first-round pick he acquired from Pittsburgh. He thinks Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, Anaheim’s Josh Manson or Carolina’s Brett Pesce would look good in a Leafs jersey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild reportedly seek a center for Dumba. I doubt they’ll part with him for a third-line center like Kerfoot. I don’t see Parayko or Pesce going anywhere. The Ducks might listen if a scoring forward is offered up for Manson but Kerfoot or Johnsson won’t do it.

Dubas might have to go the free-agent route to land that right-shot blueliner. He’ll have to shed a little more salary to do it.

UPDATE ON SAAD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Lazerus was asked if the Chicago Blackhawks might trade Brandon Saad before his UFA eligibility next summer. He doesn’t think there will be much of a market for a winger with a year left on his contract and a $6-million cap hit.

Lazerus also doesn’t see trading Saad making the Blackhawks better with the front office still in “win-now” mode. If they do move the left winger it’ll likely be at the trade deadline if they’re out of playoff contention by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Hawks are willing to absorb part of Saad’s contract there would be more interest in him this summer. They could try to peddle him as a cost-cutting move, but they’ll likely have better luck shopping or buying out Olli Maatta or Zack Smith to free up the cap dollars to re-sign Dominik Kubalik, Corey Crawford and Dylan Strome.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

The latest on Matt Murray, Taylor Hall and Phillip Danault plus updates on the Jets and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON MATT MURRAY

TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cites Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater claiming Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is going to be at the top of the Colorado Avalanche’s wish list. He felt goaltending was a big factor in the Avs’ second-round elimination from the playoffs. Dater said the Avs like Murray’s age (26) as he’d fit into their template of building with younger players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Avs general manager Joe Sakic intends to stick with his tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz for next season. He cited their strong regular-season performances and didn’t fault them for injuries that sidelined both during the playoffs. Francouz played hurt in the second round until making way for Michael Hutchinson.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports being told the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers have had discussions about Murray but the asking price (first-round pick?) is too rich for the Oilers. He believes Edmonton will be patient with the goalie search and hasn’t ruled out bringing back Mike Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the flooded market for goalies in the coming offseason there’s no reason for the Oilers to bring back Smith. Time to go with a younger option.

SHOULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE HALL?

THE ATHLETIC: Adan Vingan reports a league executive told colleague Scott Burnside last month the Nashville Predators would make sense as a landing spot for Taylor Hall. The Arizona Coyotes left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

In examining the pros and cons, Vingan observes the cost of signing the 28-year-old Hall could be in excess of $8 million. The Predators have around $9.3 million in cap space and enough money already tied up in players in the late-20s and early-30s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And that, folks, is why I don’t see Hall landing in Nashville in the offseason.

COULD THE CANADIENS KEEP DOMI & TRADE DANAULT?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he thinks the Canadiens will look at the trade market for Max Domi and Phillip Danault. With the latter saying he’s not crazy about his situation where he’s the No. 3 center, Friedman thinks there’s a chance Danault could be traded before Domi. He feels Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is open to anything.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t rule anything out. Nevertheless, I think it’s more likely Domi gets moved before Danault. The latter is a year away from UFA eligibility but Bergevin could stick with him for next season and see how promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi develop before deciding on Danault’s future.

Speaking of Domi, his future in Montreal depends upon his contract talks with Habs management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck feels it would make sense for the Jets to trade winger Patrik Laine only if they feel they can’t afford to re-sign him long-term. The same can be said if the return is too good to pass up. “But rarely do deals featuring big-name stars result in both sides walking away with their heads held high.”

Billeck also feels a Laine trade will depend upon which direction the club wants to go. They cannot continue with their current make-up. They’re currently a scrappy team that relies on their goaltending to bail them out, which isn’t a recipe for a Stanley Cup contender.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils should target Laine and what it would cost to land him. He acknowledged the Devils could use a skilled sniper like Laine and have the cap space to afford him. However, he doesn’t believe the Devils can afford the asking price, which would include parting with center Nico Hischier as part of the return. The Jets are built to win right now and won’t be interested in picks and prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine, 22, is a restricted free agent next year with arbitration rights who will seek a big raise over his current $6.75-million annual average value. That will factor into whatever decision the Jets make, but I believe they intend to keep him.

What the Jets need is a good second-line center to play alongside Laine, as well as improvements to their defense corps. Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe suggested Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic as possible targets to address their blueline needs.

WHAT DOES THE OFFSEASON HOLD FOR THE FLYERS?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher sounded as though he’d look toward his farm system to improve his roster. “I don’t think we have to do anything necessarily in the free-agent market or the trade market,” said Fletcher. “We have some holes we have to fill. Certainly we’re going to have to supplement some of the core pieces we have right now.”

Fletcher acknowledged his club’s need for another goal scorer. However, he pointed to the Flyers’ young players. “We have a lot of good kids coming,” he said, singling out those who got a taste of NHL action this season like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Connor Bunnaman.

Carchidi points out the Flyers have over $72 million invested in 15 players, leaving little wiggle room for additions.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall also weighed in on Fletcher’s end-of-season comments. He also pointed out addressing the Flyers needs won’t be easy given the league’s current economic climate. Hall noted Fletcher indicating the Flyers have to manage their cap properly to ensure they can re-sign their young players two or three years from now.

NHL.COM: Adam Kimelman observed Fletcher indicating he’ll be looking to improve his roster, but it won’t be through free agency over the next couple of years. “We’ll be working the phones to see what we can find on the trade front,” said the Flyers GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher won’t be going the UFA route to address his club’s needs. He’ll look at the trade market but he’ll also promote from within.

If he does swing a deal it’ll likely be a dollar-for-dollar swap or something as close to that as possible. He does have depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait, but as Fletcher pointed out, he has to ensure he leaves enough long-term cap room to re-sign those promising youngsters down the road.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2020

The latest on Taylor Hall, Max Domi, Frederik Andersen, Marc-Andre Fleury, Anthony Cirelli and James van Riemsdyk in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

HALL AND DOMI

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cites Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 that a case could be made for the Canadiens as a destination for Taylor Hall. He believes the 29-year-old left-winger would be interested in the Habs if he tests the unrestricted free agent market.

He likes playing in that environment,” said Dreger. “He enjoyed his time in Edmonton. He’s not afraid of the media and all those things. Markets in Canada are fun when you know what you’re getting into.”

Hall could improve the Canadiens’ offense. However, Dreger also noted the Arizona Coyotes are interested in re-signing the former Hart Trophy winner. He feels if Hall is seeking the most money he can get, chances are he’ll get that with the Coyotes.

Cowan also wondered what the future holds for Max Domi. The 25-year-old Canadiens center is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a disappointing follow-up to last season’s 72-point performance.

The Buffalo Sabres could be a fit if the Habs put Domi on the trade block. Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR Sports Radio 550 he thinks Domi is available. He pointed out the center wasn’t happy with his role this season plus he changed agents last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall will garner lots of interest if he hits the open market. I don’t doubt the Coyotes’ sincerity toward re-signing him, but recent reports that they were late paying player bonuses plus their $80-million cap payroll could affect their efforts. I also believe Hall wants to play for a contender, which could see him move on from the Coyotes and pass over the Habs.

Friedman followed up on Domi during Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, reporting he hasn’t requested a trade. The Canadiens could re-sign him but, as Friedman pointed out during his WGR interview last Thursday, they probably don’t see him as a $5 million per season player. The Habs could trade Domi if negotiations bog down and arbitration looms.

ANDERSEN

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported Friday he believes Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has spoken to Frederik Andersen. He apparently told the 30-year-old goalie the Leafs aren’t shopping him, but teams are asking about him.

Luke Fox suggests the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres “to name a few” could be potential trade partners. They’re in need of an upgrade between the pipes and have the blueline depth to tempts Dubas. However, Fox feels the Leafs shouldn’t move Andersen unless they can land a goalie carrying a similar cap hit ($5 million) who could be a better fit right away.

Fox also pointed out Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper’s new contract (two years, $4.5 million annual average value) kicks in next season. Given the Coyotes woes, teams seeking a goaltender would come calling. Trading him, however, would be a horrible way for the Coyotes to boost their dressing room or excite their fan base.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I mention Fox’s comments about Kuemper because his name recently surfaced in the rumor mill. It would be natural to tie the Leafs to Kuemper and suggest peddling Andersen elsewhere. Maybe that’s what Dubas has in mind. All the talk about trading Andersen was as a cost-cutting measure, but things can change rapidly if you’re considering several options.

Dubas won’t trade Andersen unless he’s getting a goalie of equal or greater value in return. Maybe it’s Kuemper, maybe it’s someone else. Maybe there’s no better option out there. Maybe the right deal just can’t be found. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds in the coming weeks.

COULD FLEURY RETURN TO PITTSBURGH?

TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden suggests the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s believed the Vegas Golden Knights would like to re-sign Robin Lehner, who’s taken over the starting goalie role from Fleury.

Doing so, however, would mean trading or buying out Fleury. Madden feels the latter is possible because the 35-year-old’s $7 million AAV for the next two seasons is difficult to trade. Fleury would then become an unrestricted free agent and sign a cap-friendly deal with the Penguins, who are expected to trade Matt Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting premise, but I don’t see this unfolding. Sure, the Golden Knights could buy out Fleury, and he could be amenable to returning to the Penguins on perhaps a one-year, bonus-laden deal to share the crease with Tristan Jarry. However, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will go with Jarry and Casey DeSmith as his tandem and see how things unfold next season.

SHOULD THE JETS OFFER-SHEET CIRELLI?

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck suggests Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should be a little ruthless in the offseason and sign Anthony Cirelli to an offer sheet. The 23-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning center is a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. The Lightning have $76.1 million invested in next season’s payroll, lacking sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli is a tempting offer-sheet target, provided he’s willing to sign one. If he’s not, it’s a pointless exercise. And if he is willing to sign, there’s no certainty he’d do so with the Jets. If the Lightning want to match it, they are allowed to exceed the $81.5 million cap by 10 percent during the offseason. I don’t see the Bolts losing him to an offer sheet unless a club signs him for an AAV of $8.5 million or more.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLYERS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined what the offseason could hold for the Philadelphia Flyers in the wake of their second-round elimination from the 2020 playoffs. Limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to re-sign some veteran players.

She suggested trading winger James van Riemsdyk as a cost-cutting measure. He carries a $7 million cap hit through 2022-23 and fell out of favor during the playoffs. However, Kaplan feels there’s probably not much of a market for him and it would be a sell-low move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli had JVR sitting second on his recently updated NHL trade-bait board. Kaplan offered a good explanation of why he shouldn’t be that high on the list. Unless the Flyers pick up part of that cap hit or package him with a sweetener, they could find it tough to attract suitors for van Riemsdyk.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2020

Could the Jets consider shopping Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers? What’s the latest on Matt Murray and Max Domi? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LAINE AND EHLERS TRADE BAIT?

TSN 1290 WINNIPEG‘s Jim Toth reports NHL insider Frank Seravalli said to expect Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers to be on his TSN Trade Bait List when it comes out later this week. The Jets are said to be evaluating the best way to address the holes in their lineup.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just when Jets fans thought they could get through an off-season without trade rumors about Laine and Ehlers, they get dragged back in.

We can’t dismiss the notion of Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff considering his options. Fixing his depleted defense corps and adding a second-line center are the priorities.

Shopping Laine and/or Ehlers would address one or both needs. However, that doesn’t mean Cheveldayoff will go that route. He’ll get lots of interest in those guys but there’s no guarantee he’ll find a suitable return in what will be an unusual off-season trade market.

UPDATES ON MURRAY

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes Senators GM Pierre Dorion should put in a call to Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford for goaltender Matt Murray.  Rutherford has indicated he’ll probably move a goalie and Brennan believes he’ll keep Tristan Jarry. He points out Murray is a proven winner with two Stanley Cup rings and advocates offering up the first-round pick Dorion received from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and inconsistency over the last two seasons could hurt his trade value. He’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who could seek over $6 million annually on his next contract. Murray might not be keen to stick with a rebuilding club for too long. If Dorion is in the market for a goalie he might have other options in mind.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski wondered if the Calgary Flames could be a potential trade partner for Murray. Changes could be in store for the Flames following their first-round ouster by the Dallas Stars.

Cam Talbot could depart via free agency while David Rittich has a career NHL save percentage of .907. Kingerski listed Sam Bennett, Dillon Dube, and Oliver Kylington among the possible return options for the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames GM Brad Treliving has long resisted moving Bennett because of his versatility and how he elevates his play in the postseason. I also think Treliving prefers keeping Dube in the fold. Kylington has occasionally surfaced as a trade candidate but that could depend upon how many of the Flames’ UFA blueliners Treliving intends to re-sign.

DOMI REPORTEDLY FIRES HIS AGENT

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan feels Max Domi’s days with the Canadiens appear to be over after he reportedly fired longtime agent Pat Brisson, who is a good friend of Habs GM Marc Bergevin. The 25-year-old center is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a sub-par season following a 72-point campaign in 2018-19.

Cowan also indicated the relationship between Domi and head coach Claude Julien isn’t good and didn’t improve after Domi started the playoffs on the fourth line. Bergevin, meanwhile, was non-committal over Domi’s future when asked about the center during his end-of-season press conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi frequently surfaced in trade speculation in the Montreal media this season. He was linked to the Penguins before they acquired Kasperi Kapanen last week from the Toronto Maple Leafs. We probably haven’t heard the last of the Domi trade chatter given his decline in production this season and change of agents, If the Habs decide to shop him their asking price could be a good top-four, left-side defenseman in return.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2020

A look at off-season questions for several teams eliminated during the qualifying round, plus the latest on the Ottawa Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen examined one big off-season question for each club eliminated during the qualifying round. Among the noteworthy:

What kind of return could Kaspari Kapanen fetch for the Toronto Maple Leafs? (NHL Images)

Regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boylen asked what kind of defenseman they’ll add. Given the flat cap and the free-agent pool would be difficult to wade into, Boylen suggested the trade market could be their best option. He wonders if Kaspari Kapanen or Alex Kerfoot become trade bait, and what type of return they might fetch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen or Kerfoot at best could bring a second-pairing right-side defenseman. They won’t bring in a top-pairing guy unless they’re packaged with a first-round pick and/or a top prospect, and they’ll have to target a team in need of shedding salary.

Whoever becomes the Florida Panthers’ next general manager has a lot of work to do. The defense is a problem area, plus they have to decide what to do with free agent wingers Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman. Boylen wonders if they’ll be replaced by rookies if ownership decides to cut payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things are a mess with the Panthers. We can’t really get a bead on their intentions until they’ve hired a new GM.

The Winnipeg Jets need more size on their blueline. Boylen wonders if GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will try to address that issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have over $65 million invested in next year’s payroll and all their core players under contract. There’s room to make an addition or two, but a bigger move would require shipping out a notable player as part of the return. However, he could get more cap flexibility if sidelined center Bryan Little is placed on LTIR next season.

Boylen noted Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin was dissatisfied with his goaltending. He mused about whether Guerin will promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen or explore the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s current goalie tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock is under contract for next season. One of them would have to be moved to make room for Kahkonen or someone else. Dubnyk ($4.333 million AAV for 2020-21) has a 19-team list of preferred trade destinations, but his performance this season remains a stumbling block. Stalock’s cap hit ($785K annually through 2021-22) could be the easiest to move. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators owner Eugene Melnyk rejected rumors suggesting his club might offer up the third- and fifth overall picks to the New York Rangers for the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, calling the notion “nonsensical.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers would probably reject that offer anyway. It could take a significant pitch to pry that pick away from them.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

Is it time for the Jets to rebuild? Should the Oilers trade a top-four defenseman? Are changes coming for the Predators? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE JETS REBUILD?

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has spun his wheels since his club reached the Western Conference Final two years ago, suggesting the club is heading in the wrong direction.

Friesen acknowledged Dustin Byfuglien’s unexpected departure and an injury-ravaged roster contributed to the club’s struggles this season. Nevertheless, the Jets lack depth on defense and the forward lines. He feels it’s time for Cheveldayoff to make a big move for a second-line center and a top-four defenseman.

With several teams affected by the flat salary cap and the Jets carrying additional cap room after Byfuglien’s contract termination, Friesen believes Cheveldayoff has the cap flexibility to address his roster issues.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes Cheveldayoff will feel the pressure during the off-season to reverse the Jets’ fortunes. He wonders how much rope the club’s ownership is willing to give their GM before deciding they need to go in a different direction. McIntyre feels Cheveldayoff will have to make a big move via the off-season trade or free-agent markets.

Could the Winnipeg Jets pursue Alex Pietrangelo in the free-agent market? (NHL Images)

If sidelined center Bryan Little (eardrum surgery, post-concussion symptoms) cannot play next season, they can place him on long-term injury reserve, potentially freeing up his $5.29-million cap hit for next season. Trading or buying out Mathieu Perreault could clear some more salary from their books. McIntyre considers fixing the blueline to be Cheveldayoff’s priority.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe suggests Andrew Copp could be the internal solution to replace Little if the latter remains sidelined. External options could include Montreal’s Max Domi or Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick as both could use a change of scenery. Wiebe also pondered the possibility of Cheveldayoff pursuing a big-ticket player like St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players. All their core players are under contract, so Cheveldayoff could re-sign his RFAs to affordable, short-term deals. Still, he might need a little more cap space if he intends to land a big-ticket player, especially via the UFA market. He can send some salary the other way if he’s acquiring a player via trade.

Domi’s status has been a hot topic in the Montreal media throughout this season. That chatter recently intensified with Domi currently seeing fourth-line minutes in the postseason. Patrick, however, has been sidelined this season by a migraine disorder, which (as Wiebe also noted) would make him a risky acquisition.

Pietrangelo would be a big catch for the Jets, but that’s assuming the Blues captain wants to play in Winnipeg if he tests the UFA market. If he doesn’t, Cheveldayoff would have to look elsewhere, and the pickings for top defensemen are slim beyond Pietrangelo and Boston’s Torey Krug.

SHOULD THE OILERS SHOP A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Bob Stauffer’s recent interview with Brian Burke in which the Sportsnet analyst suggested the Oilers trade a defenseman like Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, or Oscar Klefbom.

Burke felt the Oilers defense didn’t play well enough, believing one or two of their blueliners might need a change of scenery. He acknowledged such moves might be difficult given the Oilers’ limited cap space for next season.

The former NHL GM agreed with Stauffer’s suggestion the Toronto Maple Leafs might be a trading partner, proposing a swap of Larsson for a winger like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson.

Former NHL GM turned analyst Brian Lawton agreed there could be some changes to the top four. He expressed concern over Klefbom’s injury history. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, meanwhile, believes Larsson could be the likely trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those three Oilers defenseman, Nurse could fetch the best return. The 25-year-old is two years younger than Klefbom and Larsson and his style would make him attractive for clubs seeking a mobile, physical rearguard. Klefbom’s injury history could hurt his trade value, while Larsson’s UFA eligibility next summer could be a deal-breaker for some clubs.

Staples feels the Oilers should try and move out Kris Russell. He’s also a year away from UFA eligibility, but his 15-team no-trade clause could make that difficult.

LATEST ON THE PREDATORS

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile pulled no punches assessing his club’s performance this season. “This is unacceptable”, he said. “This is how we have to view this result is that we have to be better and it’s not acceptable.”

Poile indicated the club’s direction in the last two years made it “clear to me that we need to make some changes.” While the Preds GM said “everything is on the table,” Skrbina doesn’t expect a complete roster overhaul.

Pending UFAs Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith might not be back. The Predators could look in-house to address some of their needs, perhaps promoting Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino. Skrbina also speculates Poile could try again to trade center Kyle Turris or buy him out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72.2 million invested in 17 players, Poile will have to cut some salary if he intends to look to the trade or free-agent markets for help. Trading Turris could mean absorbing part of his $6 million annual salary or packaging him with a top draft pick or prospect. A contract buyout will leave them with $2 million annually in dead cap space to 2028.