Could this offseason be one of the busiest we’ve seen in a while? It’s certainly a possibility. The other day, TSN’s Frank Seravalli told Lowetide on TSN 1260 that GM’s around the league are “incredibly busy and active,” and that some have told him “you can’t believe how much chatter is out there”.
Now, Seravalli also added that it’s still unknown whether or not that chatter will amount to anything, but regardless, there are plenty of rumours flying around right now and for me, that’s what makes the offseason fun.
We have been hearing reports that some teams are looking to head into rebuilds, while others are going to be facing internal caps. There will be lots of teams looking to flip players for picks and prospects. That’s both good and bad news for the Oilers.
The good news is that some teams could be open to moving players that they might not have considered trading before the pandemic. The bad news is that if a bunch of teams are trying to shed salary, it will make it much more difficult for the Oilers to move out some of their pricey veterans. If there’s no market for Kris Russell and Alex Chiasson, then it will be very difficult for Ken Holland to make multiple upgrades to this team’s roster.
The one area that continues to generate the most chatter is the team’s quest to find a goalie for next season, and that’s where I’m going to start with this weeks look around the rumour mill:
AN UPDATE ON THE GOALIE SEARCH
Pierre LeBrun threw out an interesting tweet this morning in regards to the Oilers goaltending situation.
The Oilers and Penguins have talked about Matt Murray, I'm told, but as far as I can tell, asking price too rich for Edmonton at this point (first-round pick?). I think Edmonton will be patient in its goalie search. And the Oil hasn't ruled out bringing back Mike Smith, either
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 10, 2020
This shows a few things to me. First, it shows that it’s going to take a lot for Ken Holland to deal the 14th overall pick, which is a good thing. I’m a fan of Murray but I’m not a fan of giving up a first-round pick for a goalie who could get more than $5 million a year in arbitration. The cost of his next contract alone would be enough to scare me off. I like Murray and think he’d be a great fit in Edmonton, but not at $5+ million a season.
Secondly, this shows that Holland is serious about upgrading the goaltending. He’s not going to overpay but he’s not going to leave any stone unturned. He’ll do his due diligence.
This is also not the first time that we’ve seen it reported that the Oilers haven’t ruled out bringing back Mike Smith. I’m very much against that move, especially considering how many good options are out there on both the free agency and trade market. If it’s a month or so before the season and the Oilers haven’t found another goalie, then I suppose I would be okay with signing Smith to a one-year deal around $1.5 million. But other than that, I wouldn’t touch the veteran Smith.
Ryan Rishaug sent out a follow up to the LeBrun tweet and it also had an interesting name in it.
Kuemper makes some sense too, depending on the ask. Wonder if deeper UFA options will soften trade market. https://t.co/TFt1MD35hD
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) September 10, 2020
If the asking price for Murray is a first, then the asking price for Kuemper is likely also a first-rounder. I really like Kuemper, who was playing like a Vezina finalist this season before he got hurt, and I would be more open to trading the 14th overall pick for him. I think he’s a better goalie than Murray and while he’s four years older, he’s also a cost-controlled asset. He’s under contract for two more years with a cap hit of $4.5 million. If the Coyotes would agree to take back Kris Russell, which I think they’d be open to, then I think Holland should be aggressively pursuing a deal for Kuemper.
Jim Matheson from Post Media has been on record saying that he doesn’t think the Oilers want to spend more than $2.5 million on a goalie to play with Mikko Koskinen and that if Edmonton is going to bring in an expensive option, they’ll have to first trade Koskinen. I personally wouldn’t have a problem with the Oilers spending closer to $9 million on their two goalies. That’s not an insane amount of money to spend on the most important position in the sport.
- I saw Columbus Blue Jackets writer Brian Hedger mention Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a name that would interest the Jackets. I also saw Jim Matheson throw Nugent-Hopkins into a trade proposal for Patrick Laine. Even though he’s a UFA at the end of the next season, I cannot see the Oilers moving Nugent-Hopkins. I don’t think it will happen and they would be incredibly foolish to move #93.
- Mikael Granlund’s agent says that his player will test unrestricted free agency. The forward had 30 points in 63 games this season and had 54 points in 79 games in 2018/19. He can score and will be one of the most sought after free agent forwards on the market. He’d look good in the Oilers top six, but he’ll be out of their price range.
- Kris Letang’s name is being thrown around a little bit and while I’m not surprised, I don’t think we’ll see him moved. It feels like every year the Penguins don’t win the Cup, Letangs name is mentioned in trade rumours.
- Some reports out there of Robin Lehner getting a 5-year, $5 million extension with the Vegas Golden Knights. He will be the most sought after free agent goaltender on the market and if he only gets $5 million a season, I can’t see anyone other than Markstrom getting more than that. That’s good news for the Oilers as it could drive down the price for goalies like Braden Holtby, Thomas Greiss, and Anton Khudobin.
- The NHL Draft is now reportedly going to be held on October 6th and 7th, with Free Agency starting on October 9th. We are now under a month away from that stretch and I’m fully expecting it to be crazy. Should be a fun time for hockey fans.