NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2022

A look at some cost-cutting trade candidates for the Oilers plus the latest on the Kings in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

HOW WILL THE OILERS SHED SALARY FOR 2022-23?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples wonders how the Oilers will become cap compliant for the coming season after signing Kailer Yamamoto to a two-year contract with an annual cap hit of $3.1 million.

Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi (NHL Images).

Staples points out Puck Pedia indicates the Yamamoto signing puts the Oilers over the $82.5 million salary cap by $6.8 million. By putting the combined salaries ($6.38 million) of sidelined players Oscar Klefbom and Mike Smith on long-term injury reserve, they’ll still exceed the cap by over $400K with restricted free agent Ryan McLeod to re-sign.

That could involve making a cost-cutting trade before the season begins. Staples suggested forwards Jesse Puljujarvi and Warren Foegele as the top-two candidates with defenseman Tyson Barrie a distant third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation over which player the Oilers could shop to shed salary was kicking around the rumor mill before the Yamamoto signing.

Staples colleague Kurt Leavins suggested Puljujarvi’s new one-year, $3 million contract could be advantageous if the Oilers decide to peddle him. He said there were “rumblings” that the Montreal Canadiens were interested in the 24-year-old winger during the draft last month.

However, the Canadiens are pressed against the cap with center Kirby Dach to re-sign. However, they can’t afford Puljujarvi’s contract unless Carey Price and his $10.5 million cap hit return to LTIR for the coming season or the Habs dump some salary via trade or waivers.

The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell raised the possibility of the Oilers trading Puljujarvi and then signing someone like Phil Kessel to a bargain contract. He thinks that’s risky given Puljujarvi’s youth, higher shooting percentage and two-way play.

Mitchell doesn’t see Foegele or Barrie being moved, especially the latter after Duncan Keith’s retirement. Staples shared that view, with both suggesting Puljujarvi as the more likely trade candidate.

THE KINGS COULD SHOP A DEFENSEMAN

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reports the Los Angeles Kings have nine defensemen, not including promising Brandt Clarke and Helge Grans. Two of them (Mikey Anderson and Sean Durzi) are restricted free agents.

The Kings have just $1.5 million in cap space. Stephens suggested Durzi, Sean Walker and Tobias Bjornfot as trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker seems the most likely candidate given his $2.65 million cap hit for the coming season. However, his trade value could be diminished by the knee injury that ended his 2021-22 season. Another could be Matt Roy, who carries a $3.15 million cap hit through 2023-24.