NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2018
An update on Erik Karlsson plus the latest Canucks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NO IMMINENT TRADE IN STORE FOR KARLSSON
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson reports Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is pleased with the progress he’s made on his surgically-repaired left ankle which hampered his performance last season. He said he expects it will be much better for next season.
While Karlsson was willing to discuss the condition of his ankle, he didn’t want to talk about the trade rumors that swirled about him earlier this month. Stevenson noted talk of an imminent trade have grown quiet. He said Karlsson rejected an eight-year contract extension from the Senators that was competitive with the $88-million deal recently signed by Drew Doughty with the Los Angeles Kings, but the Sens offer didn’t come with signing bonuses like that of Toronto’s John Tavares.
Stevenson believes Sens GM Pierre Dorion doesn’t intend to lose Karlsson to free agency for nothing next summer. If the Senators don’t come up with a better offer, Stevenson believes Karlsson will be dealt before the 2019 trade deadline.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars had talks with the Senators about Karlsson earlier this month and the Vegas Golden Knights attempted to acquire him at last February’s trade deadline. Stevenson believes it’s possible Karlsson could decide to play out the final year of his contract and test next summer’s UFA market, which could affect the type of return the Senators get.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I recently observed on Featurd.io, the high cost of acquiring and re-signing Karlsson (and others like him) likely accounts for why he hasn’t been moved yet. General managers could also be taking some time to re-evaluate after a recent hectic period that included the 2018 NHL Draft and the start of this year’s free-agent market. Some of them could also be focused on re-signing players who filed for salary arbitration.
A Karlsson trade could come at any time, but things might not pick up again until late-August or early-September as the start of training camp approaches. Interested parties could also be hoping Dorion lowers his asking price, of which the centerpiece could be a good young defenseman. It’s believed he asked for promising defense prospect Miro Heiskanen from the Stars and young blueliner Mikhail Sergachev from the Lightning. If the Golden Knights are still in the mix, Shea Theodore might have to be part of the return.
LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION
TSN: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning will take over the role of president of hockey operations from Trevor Linden, who surprised the hockey world by announcing his departure on Wednesday. Benning said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini told him he’s not looking to hire a replacement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prior to Benning’s remarks, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported hearing Dean Lombardi was a “serious contender” to replace Linden. Lombardi is the former general manager of the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Either the Canucks fully intend to carry on with Benning in the president of hockey ops role or they’re trying to tamp down speculation while they consider their options.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford recently reports the Canucks’ attempts to help winger Loui Eriksson regain his scoring touch remains one of their most-challenging projects. In his first two seasons with the Canucks he’s managed a total of 21 goals. Botchford notes people consider Eriksson’s contract ($6 million annual cap hit through 2021-22) as untradeable, but he points out the winger received a $6-million signing bonus for this season, leaving his actual salary at $1 million.
In actual salary, Eriksson is due to be paid $14 million over the next four years, which could make his contract movable if the winger shows he’s bouncing back offensively. However, the cap hit remains $6 million annually. Botchford said the Montreal Canadiens are the only team that’s expressed interest in Eriksson thus far.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While it’s possible Eriksson could be traded this season, it seems more like wishful thinking. In addition to that cap hit, Cap Friendly indicates he also has a full no-trade clause through 2019-20, after which he submits a 15-team no-trade list. Eriksson is also 33 and coming off two injury-shortened campaigns. It appears his best seasons are behind him. If the Canadiens had any interest in him, they may have moved on to younger and more affordable options.