NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2018
Latest on Max Pacioretty, speculation over what notable RFAs might get and the Canucks’ efforts to land a marquee player in your NHL rumor mill.
IS A PACIORETTY TRADE COMING SOON?
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Yvon Pedneault reports sources say the Montreal Canadiens could trade left wing Max Pacioretty very soon, perhaps within the next several days. He also claims Pacioretty told Canadiens owner Geoff Molson last season that it might be better if he were dealt to a new team days after general manager Marc Bergevin told him, “I’m going to trade you.”
Pedneault also went through the oft-reported details of how a trade of Pacioretty to Los Angeles during the 2018 NHL Draft fell through because a contract extension couldn’t be worked out with the Kings, as well as the Canadiens’ captain changing agents during the period. He feels the only resolution to this situation is a trade as soon as possible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergevin is trying to trade Pacioretty before the start of the season in October he could find it difficult getting a decent return. I’m not saying it’s impossible but Bergevin isn’t dealing from a position of strength right now.
The better time to make that move could be near the Feb. 25 trade deadline when playoff contenders are looking to bolster their rosters. However, the downside is Pacioretty’s status will cast a pall over the upcoming season, becoming an unnecessary distraction for the team.
Then again, Bergevin could follow the recent example of Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. Around this time last year, most fans and pundits blasted Sakic for not trading unhappy center Matt Duchene before the start of training camp. Sakic, to his credit, ignored the criticism and waited for the right offer, which eventually came in November.
A similar scenario could unfold for Pacioretty. Maybe the Kings revisit their interest in the left winger. Maybe a high-scoring forward on a playoff contender gets sidelined indefinitely early in the season, forcing his club into the trade market for immediate help. Maybe Bergevin swaps Pacioretty for another pending UFA in hopes of re-signing that player to a new contract.
SPECULATION OVER NEW CONTRACTS FOR KEY RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos looked at the remaining unsigned notable restricted free agents, speculation over the cost of getting them under contract. Based on Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander’s 48 goals and 135 points in 185 games, he could get “something in the $45-million range” spread over six or seven years. Traikos expects the Winnipeg Jets will try to lock up defenseman Josh Morrissey to “a long-term deal that looks better with every year.”
Traikos also suggests the six-year, $33-million contract of Montreal Canadiens center Jonathan Drouin “looks like a fair comparable” for Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart. He feels a bridge contract might be the best option for Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie. As for Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, Traikos suspects the holdup getting him under contract might be tied to putting some money aside in case Ottawa Senators blueliner Erik Karlsson becomes available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how these shake out. All of them are coming off entry-level contracts, meaning their only leverage is threatening not to play unless their teams meet their asking prices. However, that’s a tactic seldom employed and rarely successful. Each situation is also unique. Signing a player to a long-term deal might be worthwhile for one club while a bridge deal could be preferable to a team with limited short-term cap space.
CANUCKS SEEKING A MARQUEE PLAYER?
THE PROVINCE: Ed Willes recently noted the reports of the Vancouver Canucks apparently inquiring into the availability of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. He doubts the Canucks could land Karlsson but notes it’s the third time GM Jim Benning “made noises about pursuing a marquee name”, pointing out his previous interest in P.K. Subban and Steven Stamkos two years ago.
It leaves the fans wondering about the vision of the Canucks, pointing out it would cost three or four of their promising prospects to land someone such as Karlsson. Willes believes Benning should know making that type of move “will further alienate a fan base whose patience has been worn to a nub.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps Benning is feeling pressure from ownership to make a big splash that hastens the club’s rebuild and improves ticket sales. The Canucks GM recently said he had no intention of trading away his promising assets. Of course, we all know what a GM says and what he does can be two different things.
Maybe the Canucks front office is keen to speed things along but circumstances (such as the exorbitant price of acquiring a big-name talent) could force them into staying patient with their own prospects.