A day late, but regardless, I’m here to deliver some of the most interesting rumours from around the NHL! Is it the middle of August? Yup! But this offseason has been a very busy one and with teams still looking to either shake up their roster a little bit or simply get cap compliant, I wouldn’t be surprised if the trade market starts to heat up as we get closer to September. Let start with the story that will never die, Jesse Puljujarvi.
IS JP HOLDING UP THE OILERS?
In this article, Puljujarvi doubled down on wanting a trade. @OnsideWithJouni translated it and JP said he is hoping to be traded before camp. Hip feels good. Will remain in Oulu until traded. Issue for him, that I see, is Oilers are in no rush to trade him unless return is fair.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) August 2, 2019
There’s no doubt that the Oilers would probably like to add a third-line centre before the regular season begins. I just can’t see Ken Holland and Dave Tippett being confident with some combination of Kyle Brodziak, Colby Cave, Gaetan Haas, and Sam Gagner handling those minutes.
The issue is that the Oilers don’t have a lot of cap space and I’m getting the feeling that the Jesse Puljujarvi situation might be stopping them from making another move. If this was all a bluff by Puljujarvi and his camp, they need to plan for him potentially needing a contract for next season. If they suddenly find a trade partner, they can’t really afford to sign a free agent centre and then have even less cap space to make a trade.
Every day that Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, and Riley Sheahan go unsigned, their value drops. The Oilers have a bit of wiggle room to make a signing but until the Jesse Puljujarvi saga works itself out, they might be limited to just PTO options.
CAPITALS ARE STILL OVER THE CAP
Right now the Washington Capitals are about $1.3 million over the cap. They need to make a trade before the season begins and they have some players that the Oilers should be interested in. The most likely name to move is Chandler Stephenson. There have been rumours that the Caps might just try to send him to the minors since that would free up $1 million in cap space.
Stephenson’s box cars aren’t very impressive, he had just five goals and six assists in 64 games, but what he brings is speed and an ability to play both the wing and centre. I can’t understate how fast he is. He’s cheap, he’s apparently expendable to the Capitals, and he shouldn’t cost very much to acquire. To me, this could be a good chance for the Oilers to buy low on a player with some serious upside who can also play in the NHL right now.
STARS SET ON MOVING HONKA
Julius Honka has had his name being thrown around for over a year now, but no deal has come. According to reports out of Dallas, Stars management appears set to move on from Honka before the end of the offseason.
Honka is a 23-year-old, right-shot defenseman, who just can’t seem to find a regular spot in the Stars lineup/ Like Stephenson, his surface numbers are not very impressive. He has just two goals in 87 career NHL games. He does have some decent AHL career numbers, in 201 career games at that level, he has 108 points.
I think there’s a player here and if the reports about the Stars only being offered a 4th round pick for Honka are true, the Oilers should be taking a look at the Finnish d-man. I know they have lots of d-men with some upside in their system, but Honka could be ready for NHL work next year.
If the acquisition cost is cheap, he could be a nice stop-gap for Evan Bouchard on the right side. If he comes to Edmonton and starts to produce, then they would have lots of defensemen vying for spots next season, which is a great problem to have.
FLYERS HAVE TOO MANY D-MEN
A report out of Philadelphia suggested that the team might be willing to swap one of their extra defenseman for some forward help since they currently have eight NHL calibre d-men at the NHL level.
On the right side, they have Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun, Travis Sanheim, and Phillipe Myers (who is waiver exempt). On the left side, they have Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov (who is currently an RFA), Robert Hagg, and Samuel Morin.
I don’t think they’re moving one of their big names, which means it’s mainly depth pieces and the only players who appear to be even slightly expendable are Hagg and Morin. They both play the left side, so that means they wouldn’t really be a fit for the Oilers.
WILD SEARCH FOR A GM CONTINUES
The Minnesota Wild GM search is very interesting. First, it was reported that they wanted someone with experience and the names being linked to them were Ron Hextall, Peter Chiarelli, and Dean Lombardi. Now, their search has reportedly opened up a bit. They’ve talked to Bill Guerin and asked for permission to speak to Chris Drury, who is currently the New York Rangers Assistant GM, but were denied. Notice how Keith Gretzky, who was a finalist for the Oilers job, hasn’t been mentioned in any of the reports.
Before firing Paul Fenton, I thought the Oilers and Wild would actually be pretty good trade partners but there’s no way the Wild are pulling the trigger on anything until they figure out their front office. That could take a while.