It’s Thursday, which means I’ve scoured the web for some piping hot (and reliable) rumours from around the NHL to breakdown. This week, I’m focusing on some the potential destination of a big name and a nixed trade involving another high-end player and how those two pieces of news affect the Oilers.
KARLSSON TO FREE AGENCY?
The 28-year-old defenseman seems destined for unrestricted free agency and assuming he gets there, the list of suitors will likely be long. Even though we’re a just over a month away from the official opening of free agency, some front runners have emerged in the Karlsson sweepstakes.
San Jose, who acquired him last summer, is obviously one of those front runners. They have around $24 million in cap space, but they have ten other pending free agents (four RFA and six UFA) including big names like Joe Pavelski, Kevin LaBanc, and Timo Meier. They might want Karlsson back, but they likely can’t afford to pay him the $7-$9 million he may command in free agency.
It goes without saying, but Karlsson leaving the Pacific Division and the Western Conference benefits the Oilers. Any time an elite player at any position goes to the other side of the league, it’s a good thing.
Two other teams that appear to be serious front-runners for the dynamic defenseman are the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If the Rangers could land Karlsson, who’s a right shot d-man, they could be in a position to deal off one of their current defenders. Currently, they have Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith, Neal Pionk, Anthony DeAngelo, and the newly acquired Adam Fox on the right side of their depth chart.
Shattenkirk has one more year at $6.25 million and a partial no-movement clause, so I don’t think there’s a fit there unless the Rangers take back a salary like Milan Lucic (highly doubtful) or Kris Russell. To me, the Oilers should only think about Shattenkirk if there is money retained and money going back the other way.
The two young options on the right side are interesting. With Fox coming up to the NHL, I could see one of those two players shaking loose, regardless of the Karlsson signing. Both DeAngelo and Pionk are 23-years-old and are coming off of 30 and 26 point seasons, respectively. They both have less than 150 games of NHL experience but looked good last season. They would be gambles for Ken Holland, but they’re both solid puck movers, which I think he really values. Also, they’re both RFA’s this summer.
As for Tampa Bay, if they want to try squeeze in Karlsson they would have to move out salary and that would likely have to come from their forward group. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and JT Miller would all be of interest to the Oilers given that they’re proven top-nine forwards who can score goals. The only issue is that they all make well north of $4.4 million and they all have some sort of trade protection built into their contracts, that likely takes the Oilers out of the conversation unless they move out some money.
KESSEL NIXES MOVE TO MINNY
Like Karlsson, I don’t think the Oilers have a chance of acquiring Kessel, but him using his no-trade clause to veto a trade to Minnesota is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.
First, it shows that the Wild are still serious about trading Jason Zucker and now that they’ve essentially traded him twice and had it blow up both times, I think it’s a lock that Zucker is moved out this summer.
Zucker has four more seasons with a $5.5 million cap hit, so it would be tough for the Oilers to fit him in, but the rumoured deal with Pittsburgh (which had Victor Rask also going to the Penguins and then Kessel and Jack Johnson going to Minnesota) showed that they were willing to take on bad contracts.
The fact that Wild GM Paul Fenton was also willing to get older shows that the organization clearly wants to win now. That surprises me. A lot of people thought Minnesota might take a year off and try to re-tool their roster a little, the trade of Mikael Granlund fits that line of thinking, but clearly, they aren’t focusing on getting younger.
It’s also worth noting that Minnesota picks at 12th overall, just four spots behind the Oilers. These two teams might be a fit for a deal this summer.
SOME SMALLER NOTES
Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov is reportedly getting some interest from NHL teams. He’s 40-years-old and hasn’t played in the NHL since 2016-17, when he posted 36 points with the Canadiens. He spent two years in the KHL and posted 40 points in 104 games. I don’t think the Oilers are one of the three teams that would have reached out, it makes no sense for them.
Former #Habs defenceman Andrei Markov has received contract offers from three NHL teams and one KHL team.
— Andrew Zadarnowski (@AZadarski) May 28, 2019
Also, our very own Jason Gregor was on TSN Radio in Vancouver and dropped this:
.@JasonGregor: I heard from a really good source that Jim Benning and his staff did sit down and discuss a Loui Eriksson for Milan Lucic trade. I see it from both sides. Here's our bad guy for your guy who's underachieved. I was told it happened in April, May, this offseason.
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) May 28, 2019
But then, on the same radio show, TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie threw this out there:
.@tsnbobmckenzie: As of recently, there were no conversations between the teams on the subject matter. But that's not to say there won't be, particularly as we get closer to the draft. I would think you're dealing with close to an untenable situation on both sides. (2)
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) May 28, 2019
So it appears as though Gregor has a nugget of info that McKenzie doesn’t but it’s clear from listening to both of their hits, that both believe a Lucic for Eriksson swap is possible this summer.