NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2019

An updated list of the best remaining UFAs plus the latest Rangers and Islanders speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE SCORE: updated their listing of the best available unrestricted free agents by position. That includes Jake Gardiner, Joe Thornton, Justin Williams, Cam Ward, and Thomas Vanek. Other notables include Patrick Marleau, Pat Maroon, Derick Brassard, Jason Pominville, and Niklas Kronwall. 

Jake Gardiner remains the best player still available in this summer’s UFA market (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those on his list, only Gardiner can be considered still in his playing prime. The rest are all past their best-before date. Many observers are surprised Gardiner remains available. Some suggest he was hoping to be signed by the Leafs but that doesn’t seem possible with Mitch Marner due for a big raise. Last season’s back injury could also be dampening his UFA value.

It’s expected Thornton will be back for one more season with the Sharks. Their recent re-signing of Kevin Labanc to a one-year, $1-million deal prompted speculation this could also allow them to bring back Marleau for a last hurrah.

Maroon would love to stay in St. Louis but the Blues are said to be offering a one-year deal and he wants a multi-year contract. Williams is said to be mulling retirement. If he does decide to play it’ll only be with the Hurricanes.

Some Quebec pundits suggest the Montreal Canadiens should sign a Quebecker like Pominville or Brassard. It remains to be seen if the Habs intend to take that advice. 


NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton still has to figure out how he’ll shed some salary to make room for restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba. That includes deciding the future of winger Chris Kreider, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. “Also on the trade block would be restricted free agent Pavel Buchnevich, as well as Vladislav Namestnikov.”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples noted Cyrgalis’ report that Buchnevich could be on the trade block and wonders if the Edmonton Oilers should look at him. Staples feels Buchnevich could fill a need for the Oilers. He also noted a rumor suggesting the possibility of the Oilers acquiring Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett. He also pondered the notion of the Oilers using unhappy winger Jesse Puljujarvi in a deal for Buchnevich, Bennett, or another forward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich was considered part of the Rangers’ youth movement. Their recent, expensive signing of Artemi Panarin and their need to re-sign Trouba could make the 24-year-old winger expendable. He had 43 points in 2017-18 and tallied 21 goals and 38 points in 64 games last season. He’s filed for arbitration, which could also determine his future in New York. The Rangers probably prefer moving Namestnikov and his $4-million cap hit for 2019-20 but Buchnevich would probably attract more interest.

As for the Oilers landing Bennett, I don’t think the Flames want to move him. But if they do, it’ll likely be anywhere other than up the road to their biggest rival. 

Cyrgalis also believes defenseman Nick Leddy remains the New York Islanders’ “best possible trade piece.” He feels the 28-year-old blueliner’s contract ($5.5 million annually through 2021-22) would be attractive in the trade market. However, Leddy isn’t likely to fetch a return that turns the Isles into a contender. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy was linked to the Canadiens last month. So far, however, there’s no indication they’re interested in acquiring him. Indeed, things have gone quiet on the Leddy trade rumors since late June. 

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 14, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 14, 2019

Latest on the Rangers, Islanders, and Sharks in today’s Sunday NHL rumor roundup. 


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks is not so sure the Rangers can reach a contract agreement with Jacob Trouba before the defenseman’s arbitration hearing on July 25. He still expects Trouba and the Rangers will eventually hammer out a seven-year, bonus-heavy deal worth between $7.5 million to $7.8 million per season. However, the longer things drag out, Brooks suggests the blueliner could turn this into a nine-year committment.

Can the New York Rangers avoid a salary-arbitration hearing with Jacob Trouba? (Photo via NHL Images)

Brooks envisions Trouba opting for a one-year deal via arbitration and then signing an eight-year extension late in the season or before next July. Going that route could make Trouba’s tenure on Broadway a short one, as there’s no guarantee general manager Jeff Gorton wouldn’t flip him to another club before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both sides apparently continue to have cordial contract discussions They could reach an agreement on a new contract before then. However, the longer this drags on, the more questions will arise over Trouba’s future in New York as his arbitraiton hearing looms. 


NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis briefly mentioned the possibility of the New York Islanders trading defenseman Nick Leddy before training camp. However, he doesn’t expect Leddy will fetch an impact player he feels the Isles need to contend next season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy’s frequently popped up in the rumor mill since May. While he could be traded come September, I agree with Cyrgalis that the Isles won’t get an impact player in return. 

It’s been a weird off-season for the Isles. On the plus side, they re-signed Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle. On the down side, they let goaltender Robin Lehner (their MVP last season) depart via free agency. His replacement is an inconsistent, brittle veteran in Semyon Varlamov, considered a mentor to promising Ilya Sorokin whenever he’s ready to leave the KHL. They also lost a major bidding war for Artemi Panarin, leading some observers to suggest the winger merely used the Isles to leverage a massive new contract with the Rangers. 


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked if the San Jose Sharks will pursue another top-nine winger via free agency. That question came following their surprisingly cheap re-signing (one-year, $1 million) of winger Kevin Labanc. Depending on the cost of bringing back Joe Thornton, Kurz doubts the Sharks can afford to chase the remaining UFA wingers unless they’re willing to ink a low-cost one-year deal. Otherwise, the Sharks would have to shed salary via trade. 

Kurz doesn’t rule out a possible return of Patrick Marleau. However, if the 40-year-old winger expects more than a one-year, $1 million contract, Kurz thinks GM Doug Wilson could seek other options. Asked about the trade status of goalie Aaron Dell, his $1.9-million cap hit probably isn’t easy to move after coming off a rough season.  Kurz also downplays trade rumors regarding winger Melker Karlsson, considering him a valuable depth player.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also noted Labanc’s new contract. “We trust the NHL will keep a close eye on this when — that should be, if — he signs a multi-year extension soon after he is eligible to do so on Jan. 1.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: More than a few eyebrows shot up last week after Labanc, coming off a 56-point season, agreed to a one-year deal worth well below market value. The league hasn’t stepped in to void the contract so we must assume they’re fine with it. But as Brooks suggests, if he signs a lucrative new deal early in the new year, that one-year contract could be construed as salary-cap circumvention.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson, however, seems too shrewd to fall into that trap. It wouldn’t surprise me if he and the Labanc camp have a “handshake agreement” ensuring the winger gets a hefty pay raise on his next deal.

Labanc will be a restricted free agent next July 1. If he and the Sharks wait until then to sign that next contract, I believe there’s nothing legally the league can do about it under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. It’ll be interesting to see if this type of maneuver is addressed in the next CBA. 

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2019

The fallout from the Karlsson signing and the Trouba trade, plus the latest on the Penguins, Bruins, Canadiens, Islanders, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: In the wake of the San Jose Sharks re-signing Erik Karlsson, Marcus White examined its effect upon the club for the remainder of the offseason. Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist are their noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Their restricted free agents include Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc.  White indicates the Sharks now have around $12.5 million in salary-cap space, leaving general manager Doug Wilson facing some tough choices.

White’s colleague Chelena Goldman expects Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Radim Simek will likely be the staples of the Sharks blueline next season. Defensemen Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon are a year away from UFA status. Goldman suggests they could be used in off-season trades.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien observes Karlsson’s signing leaves this summer’s UFA market thin on quality defensemen. The best of the bunch include Toronto’s Jake Gardiner, Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers, Vancouver’s Alex Edler, and Tampa Bay’s Anton Stralman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, Braun carries a salary-cap hit of $3.8 million while Dillon’s is $3.27 million. Both lack no-trade protection. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both are traded in cost-cutting deals. Even then, the Sharks probably won’t have enough cap space to re-sign everyone. Nyquist and Donskoi could be goners. Pavelski, too, if he seeks an expensive new deal. 

**UPDATE** Sharks general manager Doug Wilson isn’t wasting time freeing up cap space. He traded Braun to the Philadelphia Flyers for a second-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2020 Draft. 


WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes more changes are coming for the Jets following yesterday’s trade of defenseman Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff faces a potential salary-cap crunch with RFAs Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, and Andrew Copp to re-sign. McIntyre notes there are plenty of trade rumors swirling around left wing Nikolaj Ehlers. If Ehlers is moved, McIntyre suspects it’ll be more of a hockey trade to address a specific roster need for a center or a defenseman.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers will find it expensive re-signing Trouba. The RFA blueliner could seek at least $7.5- million annually on his next contract. That could affect potential efforts to pursue a scorer like Columbus’ Artemi Panarin via free agency next month. Brooks speculates winger Chris Kreider could be shopped at the upcoming NHL draft if his asking price to re-sign proves too expensive. Kreider’s a year away from UFA status and carries an 11-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the Trouba trade, McIntyre reported Cheveldayoff said he’s still got a lot of balls in the air right now. In other words, the Jets GM might not be done dealing. Ehlers carries an expensive annual cap hit ($6 million) but lacks no-trade protection this summer. He’ll attract plenty of interest if he hits the trade block.

It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out between Kreider and the Rangers. If they intend to pursue Panarin or Matt Duchene via free agency they could move Kreider to free up cap room. They could also attempt to trade or buy out a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk or Brendan Smith. 

Following the Sharks re-signing Erik Karlsson yesterday, Brooks wonders if San Jose GM Doug Wilson might try to acquire Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. While the Rangers aren’t shopping Lundqvist, Brooks points out the goalie’s sister lives in the San Jose area plus he’s also good friends with Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks admits this is just speculation on his part. Given the Sharks’ limited cap space and Lundqvist’s no-movement clause, I don’t see the long-time Rangers goaltender going anywhere. 

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford maintains he’s not shopping winger Phil Kessel (Photo via NHL Images).


NHL.COM: Appearing on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan yesterday, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford admitted Phil Kessel rejected a proposed trade to the Minnesota Wild by invoking his no-trade clause. Rutherford said he’s not actively shopping the winger. When asked about trade rumors regarding center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang, Rutherford said they’re not untouchable. However, he added they’re not players he’s pushing to move or intends to trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers aren’t buying Rutherford’s claim he’s no longer trying to trade Kessel. However, he won’t be going anywhere unless a club on Kessel’s eight-team trade list makes a great offer or the winger expands that list. I don’t see Malkin or Letang getting traded anytime soon.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney didn’t outright reject the notion of trading Torey Krug this summer. However, he indicated he’d have to receive a mind-blowing offer to consider it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug’s coming off arguably the best season of his career. He’s a year away from UFA status and will be an expensive re-signing for the Bruins. Nevertheless, Sweeney’s doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to move Krug. 


NEWSDAY: With Erik Karlsson and Jacob Trouba no longer available, Andrew Gross wondered who the New York Islanders’ blueline targets could be. Even with their depth on defense, Gross believes GM Lou Lamoriello won’t shy away from an opportunity to bolster his defense. Possible free-agent options could include Toronto’s Jake Gardiner, Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers, and Tampa Bay’s Anton Stralman. Calgary Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie could be a trade option.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Yvon Pedneault observed there’s speculation linking the Montreal Canadiens to New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy. The 28-year-old has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. He also lacks no-trade protection and has dropped out of the Isles’ top-two defense pairings. Appearing on TVA Sports, Pedneault speculates the Isles could shop Leddy for a forward. He suggests it would cost the Canadiens Andrew Shaw and a second-round draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $22 million in projected cap space, the Islanders are expected to be busy in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. If they bring in a blueliner they could put Leddy on the trade block. The Canadiens are in dire need of a top-four left-side defenseman and Leddy could interest them. 


NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2019

Looking ahead for the Bruins and Blues plus updates on Phil Kessel, Jason Zucker and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


ESPN.COM: Following Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, Greg Wyshynski, Emily Kaplan, and Chris Peters looked at some off-season keys for the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues. They believe the Bruins still have a good mix of veterans and youth to contend for the Cup next season but they should also focus on getting younger.

Should the Boston Bruins shop defenseman Torey Krug this summer for a second-line winger? (Photo via NHL Images)

Given Boston’s blueline depth, they suggest shopping defenseman Torey Krug for a second-line winger. The Bruins should also consider buying out the final two seasons ($6 million annual average value) of David Backes’ contract. 

The Blues must sort out new contracts for restricted free agents like Jordan Binnington, Ivan Barbashev, Oskar Sundqvist, and Joel Edmundson. Oft-injured winger Robby Fabbri faces an uncertain future after falling out of favor by the end of the playoffs. Carl Gunnarsson and Patrick Maroon can become unrestricted free agents but both could return on affordable short-term deals. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t be easy for both clubs to repeat as Cup Finalists. The Bruins appear to have the better chance of returning to the Final next season. They’ve got a lot of good young talent on their roster and within their system.

Krug’s been mentioned in media trade chatter since last summer but nothing came of it. However, he’s a year away from UFA status and could prove an expensive re-signing. 

The  Bruins must also re-sign RFA blueliners Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. With over $68 million invested in 19 players, there’s room to get both under contract but it could be a tight squeeze. Moving Krug’s $5.25-million cap hit would clear some additional room depending on what they get back in return.

A Backes buyout will only free up over $333K in cap space for 2019-20. The real savings come in the following three years of the buyout term.

I don’t expect big changes in store for the Blues. GM Doug Armstrong will probably try to keep as much of the roster intact as possible. With over $64 million committed to 16 players and all their core players except for Binnington under contract, they can afford to keep the band together. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Fabbri, whose once-promising career has been hampered by numerous injuries.  


TRIBLIVE.COM: Despite Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford saying it looks like Phil Kessel won’t be traded, Kevin Gorman doesn’t believe it. He calls Rutherford’s comments “public posturing at its best.” Kessel recently used his no-trade clause to spike a proposed deal to the Minnesota Wild. Gorman believes Rutherford left Kessel with two choices: continue playing for the Penguins under coach Mike Sullivan or help management find a suitable trade partner. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford could be bluffing. It wouldn’t be the first time an NHL GM says a player probably won’t be traded only to move him soon afterward.

His comments could be aimed at sending the Kessel camp a message. If he doesn’t want to play for Sullivan any longer, he’ll have to consider other trade destinations beyond his eight-team list. However, if Kessel holds firm, Rutherford will have to consider other cost-cutting moves. 

THE ATHLETIC: In an interview with Wild GM Paul Fenton, Michael Russo asked him about Jason Zucker’s trade status. He was nearly part of that proposed pitch for Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel and was nearly shipped to the Calgary Flames at the February trade deadline.

Fenton admits he’s received calls about Zucker but also other players on his roster. He also denied he’s intent on moving the winger. Nevertheless, it’s believed he’s also discussed Zucker with the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets, and Carolina Hurricanes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fenton may be playing coy about his intentions to move Zucker. However, it appears he’s willing to entertain offers and isn’t shy about pitching him to other clubs. He won’t move Zucker just for the sake of doing so but I believe he’s looking for the right deal.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recent comments on a rumored Milan Lucic-for-Loui Eriksson swap between Edmonton and Vancouver. Given the extra year on Lucic’s contract, he wondered if the Oilers would have to include Jesse Puljuarvi as part of the return. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples points out Friedman isn’t saying this is a trade rumor but merely musing over what it might take to pull off that type of swap. I concur with Staples that adding Puljujarvi in that deal would be too much. 


NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2019

Check out the latest Islanders and Panthers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During a Thursday appearance on Montreal’s TSN 690, insider Pierre LeBrun said he believes New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello will be busy this summer. He notes they currently have the fourth-most salary-cap room for 2019-20 and thinks they want to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents like center Brock Nelson and captain Anders Lee but not everyone. LeBrun feels they’ll have room to pursue a big-ticket player like Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin via free agency. They could also be active in this summer’s trade market or maybe even go the offer-sheet route.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Islanders building a young “core four” of promising defensemen in Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield, and Devon Toews, Arthur Staple suggests veteran blueliner Nick Leddy could become expendable. He notes Leddy no longer leads Islanders rearguards in ice time and offense and feels he could become a trade candidate to bring in a forward.

Has Nick Leddy become expendable on the New York Islanders’ blueline (Photo via NHL Images).

While acknowledging Lamoriello could pursue Panarin or Columbus’ Matt Duchene, the Isles remain a tough sell for free agents, meaning he could be forced to go the trade route. Staple cites a team executive not affiliated with the Islanders or Edmonton Oilers suggesting perhaps a new Oilers GM might be interested in swapping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Leddy. Staple also wondered if the Minnesota Wild, Toronto Maple Leafs, or Winnipeg Jets would have interest in Leddy. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree the Islanders might not be a destination of choice for many top UFAs, but the presence of Lamoriello in the front office, Barry Trotz behind the bench, and the opportunity to skate alongside young center Mathew Barzal could be enticing selling points.

Of course, the biggest is money, and if Lamoriello is willing to spend to land a free-agent star, someone like Panarin might be tempted. Cap Friendly indicates the Isles have over $47.7 million invested in 16 players. If ownership is willing to spend up to the projected $83 million cap ceiling for 2019-20, Lamoriello will have over $35 million to work with, more than enough to re-sign his key free agents and to pursue additional depth. 

I also concur with Staples’ assessment that Leddy is a solid No. 3 defenseman and should attract interest if Lamoriello shops him for a forward. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million and lacks no-trade protection. However, if the new Edmonton GM swapped Nugent-Hopkins for Leddy, Oilers fans will mutiny.

The Leafs and Jets both face a cap crunch this summer and will want to shed salary. Lamoriello would have to pick up part of Leddy’s salary to make him attractive to those two clubs. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): George Richards reports the Florida Panthers could make moves to add to their roster and/or to free up salary-cap space. GM Dale Tallon intends to be aggressive in the free-agent market, generating speculation he’ll pursue Columbus Blue Jackets UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

Despite this season’s setback, the Panthers are stocked with good young talent and are considered a team on the rise. Sunny weather, quality of living, and lack of a state tax could prove attractive to those UFAs, plus the club has a reputation for its first-class treatment of its players. 

Richards notes Panthers don’t intend to spend all their available cap space in the free-agent market. They’ll also consider re-signing their own, such as Troy Brouwer and Riley Sheahan. The latter was acquired in a trade last month with Pittsburgh. Earlier this month, Richards reported Tallon was happy with Sheahan, who’s interested in re-signing with the Panthers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For this summer’s UFA talent, the Panthers could be a preferable destination over Long Island for all the reasons Richards cited. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $61 million invested in 14 players for 2019-20. As Richards noted, they’ll have around $22 million in cap space assuming an $83-million ceiling.

Ownership has given Tallon the green light to spend this summer and it’s clear the Panthers GM intends to do so. It wouldn’t surprise me if Panarin and/or Bobrovsky end up with the Panthers.

As for players who could be shopped before July 1, I expect current backup James Riemer could be on the move. He’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $3.5 million and lacks a no-trade clause. Winger Mike Hoffman also surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list and has one season left on his contract with a cap hit of $5.187 million.

Winger Jonathan Huberdeau was the subject of trade chatter but I don’t see the Panthers parting with one of their top scorers, especially one carrying an affordable $5.9-million AAV through 2022-23. With 74 points in 70 games, the 25-year-old Huberdeau is entering his playing prime. 

NHL Rumor Roundup – November 15, 2018

NHL Rumor Roundup – November 15, 2018

Are the Penguins done dealing? Could the Islanders trade Nick Leddy? Will the Oilers make a move soon? The latest in your NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: In the wake of the Pittsburgh Penguins shipping Carl Hagelin yesterday to the Los Angeles Kings for Tanner Pearson, Elliotte Friedman suggests Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford might not be done making trades to improve his roster. “Do not discount the possibility of Rutherford and Anaheim’s Bob Murray trying a lateral “change-of-scenery” trade,” writes Friedman, adding both are looking to make changes.  He also believes the list of players the Kings could be willing to trade is growing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reports Rutherford said trade conversations were still ongoing following the Hagelin-for-Pearson swap. Neither Yohe or Friedman specified which Penguins players could become trade candidates but forwards Daniel Sprong and Bryan Rust were frequently mentioned prior to yesterday’s trade. The Ducks want to get younger and faster while the Penguins seek secondary scoring.

Could Nick Leddy’s improved overall play make him an attractive trade target? (Photo via NHL Images)


THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz has high praise for defenseman Nick Leddy, citing his overall play despite the downturn in his offense. Staple notes Leddy has occasionally surfaced in trade rumors, “though it’s hard to believe that Trotz would work so hard on remaking Leddy’s game at the cost of his point totals and then ship out one of his top two defensemen without much of a replacement waiting around.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy’s improved defensive game could be improving his trade value. Maybe the Isles might consider moving him for the right price later in the season if they fall out of playoff contention. Given their better-than-expected start to this season, I don’t believe Leddy’s going anywhere right now. They don’t need to make any significant changes at this time. 


THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis recently suggested it’s time for the Edmonton Oilers to explore the trade market to address their depth on the wings. He thinks the Los Angeles Kings as a possible trade partner, though the player he felt they should target (Tanner Pearson) was subsequently traded to Pittsburgh.

He also believes they should look at rebuilding clubs such as the Detroit Red Wings (Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek) or New York Rangers, whose possible trade candidates could include Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider or Vladislav Namestnikov. Other and perhaps less likely options include New Jersey, Ottawa, Chicago, and Vegas.

Potential Oilers trade candidates range “from Drake Caggiula (speed) to Matt Benning (right-shot defender) to Zack Kassian (pugnacity).” Willis also notes the Oilers have “a fairly rich collection of prospects, especially on the left side of the blueline, and all of their important draft picks for the next few years.”

Willis feels the Oilers would have enough ammunition, including salary-cap space, to swing a significant move at the trade deadline. It’s less certain, however, if they have enough to do it right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caggiula, Benning or Kassian on their own probably aren’t enough to land the type of top-six winger the Oilers need. I can see one of them being bundled with a quality prospect or decent draft pick.

Finding help right now, however, won’t be easy. Other than the Kings, most of the clubs Willis cited probably aren’t in the market to shake things up at this time. The Anaheim Ducks could be looking to make changes but they’re focused on speed and youth. 


Friedman also noted the recent decline in the ice time of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov. He said he hasn’t heard the 24-year-old’s name come up in trade rumors but suggests it’s worth keeping an eye on his status.