NHL Rumor Mill – October 3, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 3, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, we examine speculation linking the Blue Jackets and Oilers to Jakob Chychrun plus we take a look at the potential difficulties facing the Rangers in re-signing Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller.

LATEST CHYCHRUN SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets were among the teams rumored to be interested in acquiring Jakob Chychrun leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft in July. They had a glaring need for top-four defensemen and the Arizona Coyotes were said to be fielding offers for the 24-year-old blueliners.

The Jackets denied any substantive interest in Chychrun other than an informal call about the asking price months beforehand. Reports indicated the Coyotes sought a first-round pick, a young proven NHL player and a top prospect.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

It was rumored Chychrun rejected a deal to Columbus despite lacking no-trade protection as he wants to be dealt to a playoff contender. Portzline speculates perhaps the Jackets didn’t want to acquire a player who didn’t want to go to Columbus.

Portzline noted that TSN’s Darren Dreger last week included Columbus among his potential destinations for Chychrun. However, he pointed out the Jackets need a right-side defenseman whereas Chychrun (who has an injury history) has played most of his career on the left side. He also indicated the Jackets have promising defenders such as David Jiricek and Corson Ceulemans in their prospect pipeline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the Jackets become interested in Chychrun if they’re unable to re-sign left-side defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Otherwise, they could set their sights on a natural right-side top-four blueliner should any become available in this season’s trade market.

Jonathan Willis noted that Dreger also mentioned the Edmonton Oilers among his list of potential suitors for Chychrun. He indicated colleague Daniel Nugent-Bowman learned from a team source that the Oilers checked with the Coyotes but (like so many other teams) were put off by the high asking price.

Willis doesn’t see any interested clubs being dissuaded by Chychrun’s injury history given his puck-moving skills and affordable $4.6 million average annual value through 2024-25. The Oilers’ limited cap space, however, would be difficult to squeeze his contract within their cap payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Willis believes the return to the Coyotes would be too costly for the Oilers now and in the future. He also doesn’t see the Coyotes getting a single blue-chip piece in the deal. For those reasons, I don’t see Chychrun getting traded to the Oilers.

RE-SIGNING LAFRENIERE AND MILLER COULD BE DIFFICULT FOR THE RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reported last week that the Rangers face some tricky contract issues to solve before the significant projected salary-cap increases kick in starting in 2024-25. The cap will only rise by $1 million to $83.5 million for 2023-24 with Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller due for new contracts next summer. Brooks indicates the Rangers will have $65.1 million invested in just 11 players for next season

Lafreniere and Miller will be coming off their entry-level contracts. Brooks pointed out Noah Dobson signed a three-year bridge deal with the New York Islanders worth an average annual value of $4 million this summer. Assuming Lafreniere and Miller agreed to similar deals, it would leave the Rangers with just $10.4 million to fill the other nine positions on the roster.

Brooks reports the Rangers are believed to have reached out to the agents who represent Lafreniere and Miller. However, it’s unclear if talks are ongoing or if they’ve been deferred to next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This story isn’t a rumor but it will be interesting to see how the Rangers handle this situation next summer. It’s also worth noting that Filip Chytil is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Perhaps this situation leads to Chytil getting shopped. Maybe they make a cost-cutting trade. It could also lead or the departures of depth forwards Ryan Reaves and Sammy Blais via the unrestricted free agent market.