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Weekly Rumours – ‘No RFA Talk’ Edition!

As someone who has written an NHL rumours blog every week for the entire summer, I am personally sick of talking about the leagues unsigned RFA’s and honestly, I feel like a lot of you are sick of reading about it. If you came here for RFA updates, too bad! This week, I went around the NHL and dug up some rumours that have nothing to do with Mitch Marner or Matthew Tkachuk or Brock Boeser or any of those players.

JUSTIN FAULK TRADE? 

The second that I saw that the Carolina Hurricanes had inked free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner, I pulled up their PuckPedia page and counted up how many defensemen they had. On the right side, they have Dougie Hamilton, Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, and Trevor Van Riemsdyk. On the left side, they added Gardiner to a group that includes Jacob Slavin, Gustav Forsling, and Haydn Fleury.

In short: they have too many d-man.

It was clear that a deal was going to be made and Justin Faulk was the obvious candidate. The day Gardiner signed it was being reported that the Hurricanes were already talking to other teams about the 27-year-old defenceman.

It makes sense too. He’s going to be a UFA after this season, they have lots of right-shot d-men, and his name has been thrown around the rumour mill for over a year now. What did surprise me was the talk about the Anaheim Ducks making a strong push and actually agreeing to terms on a deal for Faulk.

The Ducks look like a team that’s going through a bit of a transition period where they want to focus on their up and coming young core. Swapping 23-year-old Ondrej Kase for a 27-year-old defenceman seems a little counter-productive.

It was also surprising to see that Faulk had the Ducks on his 15-team no-trade list. Usually, players love going to quiet, warm-weather markets. Not the case here as it appears Faulk and the Ducks won’t agree to terms on an extension. Now it looks like the deal won’t happen and the Canes will have to look elsewhere.

Lots of people link the Oilers to Faulk but I just don’t see this as a fit. First off, if Faulk has the Ducks on his no-trade list, I would almost guarantee that the Oilers are on there as well. Second, the Oilers have no cap space. They would have to swap out a bad contract to bring in Faulk and I don’t see the Hurricanes wanting to take on Kris Russell in this deal. It’s just not going to happen.

Would he be a good fit in their top-four? I have no doubt about that. His defensive play can be sketchy at times, but he produces offence, moves the puck up ice, and shoots right. The Oilers need someone like Faulk, but there just isn’t a fit in this situation.

FRIEDMAN DROPS TWO OILERS NOTES

Ah, the return of Elliotte Friedman’s weekly ‘31 Thoughts’ blog. Nobody gets the rumour mill going like Friedman because usually when he says something, it’s the truth.

There were some notes in there about the interview he did with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but there were also two points on some potential roster moves for the Oilers.

First, Friedman says that he addressed the reports that Edmonton had an interest in veteran free agent Patrick Marleau but he doesn’t believe that’s going to happen. I had also read the various rumours regarding Marleau and honestly, I never really believed them. Marleau really started to slow down last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and even though he still notched 16 goals in the regular season he was noticeably off during the playoffs.

He’s a few days away from his 40th birthday and I just don’t see him as a viable top-six winger anymore. Could he have come into camp and earned a spot in their bottom-six? Sure, but I would prefer that the Oilers focus on giving more opportunities to younger players with more upside. That’s why the Sharks and Leafs didn’t bother to bring him back this season.

For Marleau, considering his age and reported interest in going back to San Jose, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up signing a PTO with one of the other California teams. Somewhere that would keep him nice and close to his family.

Friedman also that the Oilers talked to both Tampa Bay and Carolina about a potential Jesse Puljujarvi trade. That was hardly surprising but he did attach the names Julien Gauthier (CAR) and Alexander Volkov (TB) as names that the Oilers liked. We have heard both of those players connected to the Oilers throughout the summer, but hearing Friedman report it gives it a little bit more legitimacy in my eyes.

Gauthier is a 6’4, 225-pound winger who posted 41 points in 75 games with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) last season. I can see why the Oilers were interested in him since he’s considered more of a complementary player and he can produce a little bit of offence but I can also see why they didn’t just do a Puljujarvi for Gauthier deal with no other pieces involved.

Same for Volkov, who comes in at just over 6’1 and also spent last season in the AHL scoring 61 points in 74 games. He has more of a scoring touch than Gauthier and he shoots left. Again, it would be a nice target for the Oilers but I would want Tampa to throw in something else to get a deal done for Puljujarvi.

That’s probably the sticking point in all of this. The Oilers likely want another draft pick and other teams just aren’t interested in throwing that in right now. We’ll see if that changes.