Actual rumours? In the middle of August? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! Let’s dig in.
THE FLAMES TROUBLES
RFA: Tkachuk, Mangiapanehttps://t.co/q3YrmsLP3P
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) August 1, 2019
Brad Treliving has a couple of RFA’s to sign and not a lot of money to do it. Right now, the Flames have around $7.75 million in cap space and they need to get new deals done for both Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. Tkachuk alone would command around $7 million on a long-term deal, so if the Flames want to lock him up they’ll need to clear out some money.
Initially, it was thought that they would find a new home for defenseman TJ Brodie and his $4.65 million cap hit but after learning that Juuso Valimaki will miss a large portion of the 2019-20 season with an injury, they’re in a position where they can’t really afford to lose any more depth on defence.
They’ll no doubt try to move out Michael Frolik, who carries a cap hit of $4.3 million for one more season, but one would imagine that they’ve been trying to do that for a while now and considering we’re at a point in the offseason where a lot of teams won’t want to add more money, moving Frolik seems improbable for the Flames.
One solution could be to flip Frolik for an overpaid defenseman and then move Brodie out for a cheaper forward option but it could be hard to find a trade partner for a deal like that in late August.
Some Oilers fans have been floating out the idea of a Russell for Frolik swap. It would give the Flames some defensive depth and would give the Oilers one more top-nine winger. I can see the logic behind it, but I really don’t think the Oilers can subtract another proven NHL defender from their blueline. They already will be going into next year without Sekera and will be banking on one rookie defenseman to become a full-time NHLer, can they really trade Russell and hope for two rookies to step up? I don’t think that would be wise.
RISTOLAINEN WANTS OUT?
Speaking of defenseman, Rasmus Ristolainen is back in the rumour mill. The Sabres have added a handful of d-men this summer and when Finnish TV outlet ‘MTV Sports’ asked Ristolainen about his future, he gave a pretty unsure answer.
“I cannot say anything other than the fact that on the 12th of September, I will be at one of the NHL team’s training camps,” said the 24-year-old defenseman.
That quote has led to a lot of speculation that Ristolainen has requested a trade and that the Sabres will be looking to move him before the season starts.
He’s a young, right-shot defenseman, who can consistently produce 40 points and is comfortable playing on the powerplay. On the surface, he is exactly what the Oilers need.
The problems with Ristolainen include his ability to actually defend and keep pucks out of his net. He’s also under contract for the next three seasons with a cap hit of $5.4 million. For the Oilers to afford that, they would need to send a couple of bad contracts back to Buffalo. I doubt the Sabres would be willing to do that. I would imagine that there are teams out there willing to give up some pretty nice assets to bring a player like Ristolainen into their organization.
He has some warts in his defensive game, which is why I think the Oilers should stay away, but I could see a team with a good, veteran group of defenders being willing to take a chance on Ristolainen.
If the Oilers are going to spend the assets and money on a player, I would hope they could get back a player who brings a little bit more stability to their backend.
FLORIDA READY TO MOVE HOFFMAN?
This rumour has been buzzing around Twitter over the last few days, but I’m not sure if it classifies as a legitimate rumour (based on who’s been ‘reporting’ it). Could I see the Panthers moving on from Mike Hoffman before the season starts? I could. Is he the type of volume shooting, top-six winger the Oilers would likely covet? Absolutely. But there are a few problems with the ‘Hoffman to Edmonton’ idea.
First, it’s cap space or lack thereof. The Oilers don’t have a lot of room and Hoffman carries a cap hit of around $5.2 million. The Oilers would have to send money back the other way and I can’t see the Panthers being interested in either of Kris Russell, since they already have eight defensemen on their roster or Sam Gagner, for more obvious reasons. Maybe if it was a larger deal involving multiple players things would change, but I think it’s highly unlikely.
Even if the two sides agreed to terms on a deal, there’s another issue. Mike Hoffman has a modified no-trade clause that requires him to submit a ten-team no-trade list to the Panthers. Considering how much drama surrounded his departure from the Ottawa Senators, would anyone be the least bit surprised if all seven Canadian teams were on his no-trade list?
Now, maybe the opportunity to play alongside Connor McDavid in a contract year would change his mind, but I doubt it. The fact he’s in a contract year would also worry me from an Oilers perspective. Hoffman is scheduled to be a 30-year-old UFA next summer and there’s no doubt he’ll be looking to cash in on one more big deal in his career. Is it wise for the Oilers to give up assets for a player who will likely want to go to market next July? I don’t think it is.
I was skeptical about this rumour from the second I saw it and after digging a little deeper, I don’t think this is something that could realistically happen.