NHL Rumor Mill – November 6, 2023
Some roster shakeup suggestions for the struggling Oilers plus the latest on the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
SHAKEUP SUGGESTIONS FOR THE OILERS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Robert Tychowski believes the Oilers need to address the lack of production coming from their bottom-six forwards. “There needs to be movement on this front – trades, demotions, anything to shake some life into the third and fourth lines.”
Tychowski singled out Ryan McLeod, Dylan Holloway, Derek Ryan, Connor Brown, Mattias Janmark and Adam Erne. He pointed out that they’ve combined for 52 man games thus far with a total of two assists. They also appear to be trying to compensate for a lack of production by not being physical.
Any member of that group would’ve been healthy scratches from the lineup by now. However, the Oilers salary-cap constraints mean there’s not enough room to bring in substitutes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem with trying to make trades right now is there are a high number of clubs in the same boat as the Oilers in terms of cap space. It will require some creativity by management to swing a deal that shakes up the bottom six forwards. They could be forced to address the issue internally or consider a coaching change.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Caleb Kerney suggested the Oilers consider buying out a contract if they can’t make any trades before the American Thanksgiving later this month.
Kerney noted the Oilers have “a few high-priced contracts that could be bought out to create some cap flexibility.” He suggested they start with goaltender Jack Campbell, whose performance has left much to be desired. Buying him out would free up over $3.4 million in cap space for this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract buyouts only occur during the offseason, with the main window opening during the second half of June. See CapFriendly for a detailed explanation. Whether the Oilers go that route with Campbell or anyone else next summer remains to be seen.
LATEST ON THE BLUE JACKETS
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline observed that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kent Johnson’s demotion last Friday to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland along with his recent change of agents raised concern among Jackets fans.
However, Johnson’s future with the Jackets doesn’t appear to be in doubt. He’s handling the demotion well while coach Pascal Vincent felt that the 21-year-old will become an elite NHL player given his progression over time.
Johnson’s new agent is Pat Brisson, who represents former Blue Jackets Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones. Both players asked to be traded out of Columbus. However, Brisson said changing agents had nothing to do with his relationship with the Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson may get traded but it sounds like the Jackets still see him as an important part of their future. He is a restricted free agent next summer following the completion of his entry-level contract.
Johnson had a promising rookie performance with 40 points last season but struggled through the early going of this season. Sending him to their AHL affiliate is to get him more playing time and try to bolster his confidence. Don’t be surprised if he returns to their lineup soon.
Portzline also reported that Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has been working the phones for months trying to reduce his roster glut. He noted that Winnipeg Jets assistant GM Larry Simmons was in Columbus last Thursday as was Philadelphia Flyers head pro scout Dave Brown and senior advisor Bob Murray.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been reported for weeks that Kekalainen is trying to move a defenseman. Adam Boqvist and Andrew Peeke have been healthy scratches for some time. Perhaps one of them gets peddled later this month.