NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2023
NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2023
Check out the latest on the Blues, Islanders and Kraken in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
PROPOSED BLUES TRADE TARGETS
STLTODAY.COM: Matthew DeFranks recently noted that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong could use one of his three first-round picks in this year’s draft as trade bait to land a player. They must be 27 or younger, have at least three years remaining on their contract, and be worth giving up one or two picks that could fall between 23 and 32 in the draft order.
DeFranks looked at some possible options that could fit the bill. Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor, Calgary defenseman Rasmus Andersson and Columbus’ Patrik Laine topped his list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While anything’s possible, I don’t see Connor, Andersson or Laine being available for the Blues or anyone else this summer. They’re too valuable to their respective clubs.
Three Arizona Coyotes forwards – Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz and Lawson Crouse – would fit the mold.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schmaltz has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill of late. The Coyotes won’t part with Keller or Crouse unless they asked to be moved.
DeFranks suggested a young New York Rangers forward such as Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere or Filip Chytil. He wondered if the Rangers would still want to do business with the Blues following the Pavel Buchnevich and Vladimir Tarasenko trades.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers need to bolster their scoring depth at right wing. Unless they’re planning on flipping one or two picks they get from the Blues to another club to address that need, they’ll likely want a good player in exchange for Kakko, Lafreniere or Chytil. Of the three, Lafreniere seems the more likely candidate as he’s popped up a few times in the rumor mill.
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Brandon Hagel would make sense for the Blues. Ross Colton would be another though he’s a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning need to shed salary but I expect them to retain Hagel and Colton.
Edmonton winger Kailer Yamamoto, Philadelphia forward Joel Farabee and Washington defenseman Rasmus Sandin round out DeFranks’ list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yamamoto is the most likely to be available. He’s popped up as a cost-cutting trade candidate for the Oilers. The Flyers might consider moving Farabee for the right return as they’re expected to begin rebuilding this summer under new GM Daniel Briere. The Capitals acquired Sandin before the trade deadline so I doubt they’re going to part with him.
To sum up, Schmaltz and Yamamoto seem the more viable trade candidates on this list. However, other options could present themselves as we get closer to the NHL Draft on June 28-29 in Nashville.
LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently speculated that Josh Bailey has likely played his final game for the New York Islanders. Despite his reduced production this season and $5 million average annual value, his $3.5 million in actual salary for next season could make him more tradeable.
Kurz suggested teams looking to reach the cap minimum for next season like Arizona and Chicago might take an interest in Bailey. The 33-year-old winger might not care where he goes as long as he gets playing time and a chance to resurrect his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey only has one year left on his contract. If a trade isn’t possible the Islanders could buy him out to free up cap room for next season.
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov frequently said he’d like to remain with the Islanders. A league source told Kurz that multiple teams could be interested in the 35-year-old backup if he tests this summer’s free-agent market.
Varlamov could get a three-year deal worth $3 million annually. The Isles probably won’t go that long, preferring a two-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Varlamov really wants to stay perhaps he’ll skip that extra year he might get on the open market. The Isles would probably want to keep him because he and starter Ilya Sorokin are a solid goalie tandem.
UPDATE ON THE KRAKEN
THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker believes the Seattle Kraken need to tweak their roster for 2023-24 and beyond if they hope to build on this season’s impressive performance.
Baker believes adding “a tougher, more imposing forward or two” should be a priority.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see how the Kraken’s improvement this season affects general manager Ron Francis’ roster-building program. Perhaps he shares Baker’s view that they need more size and toughness up front. That could be something worth monitoring during the offseason.