With teams being crunched by salary cap restrictions, and arbitration hearings approaching, NHL rumours are still being volleyed about. For the Monday edition of NHL rumours we will be discussing possibilities for the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins. What moves do these teams anticipate to improve their rosters? Last Word on Hockey has you covered.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: Chris Ryan of NJ.com wrote that the New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero is continuing to search for ways to upgrade his roster. Some moves he may explore include trading for Nikita Gusev, signing Jake Gardiner, and finally perhaps working a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Analysis: The focus here would be to add Gardiner and create a top pairing for the Devils with P.K. Subban doing his thing on the right side while Jake Gardiner (30 points in 62 games) can man the left side. While Gardiner may not be terrific when you evaluate his defence, he is a skilled puck-moving defenceman. Just the type of blueliner you’d want getting the puck up to a Jack Hughes or Taylor Hall. Gardiner’s price may be starting to deflate as he is still not signed. Shero is playing the waiting game to see if he can acquire the Minnetonka, Minnesota native to head to Jersey.
Analysis: While many have noticed Shero already making some great additions such as Jack Hughes, P.K Subban, and Wayne Simmonds… more can be had. Adding Nikita Gusev who has blossomed in the KHL would supplement his forward line even further. He’s been a prolific scorer posting 82 points in just 62 games last year in the KHL. The problem confronting Shero is, he is not the only one possibly contacting the Vegas Golden Knights regarding a deal. The Vegas Golden Knights are experiencing some serious cap space issues. There doesn’t seem to be a path forward to giving him the $4 million type of deal he seeks.
Trade With Tampa Bay Lightning
Analysis: The Tampa Bay Lightning while not as bad off as Vegas in the world of salary cap headaches, is still facing some challenges getting players like Brayden Point signed. They have $5,576,669 in cap space. But we all know that won’t come close to getting a deal for Point done. The Lightning do have some assets to consider moving. Players like Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat or Alex Killorn come to mind. The Tampa Bay team will need to clear some cap space and they may consider working a deal with the Devils to achieve that goal.
NHL Rumours: Edmonton Oilers
Rumour: Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal wrote that the Edmonton Oilers have about $2.4 million of cap space after the Milan Lucic-for-James Neal trade. He thinks signing a free agent third-line centre (preferably a right-shot) seems like a reach.
Matheson’s colleague David Staples isn’t sure the Oilers want to or should trade defenceman Kris Russell.
Not to start a war, but I’m not so sure Oilers want to or should move Kris Russell.
Maybe if you can trade for a 2nd line winger or 3rd line centre.
But Russell is defensively sound d-man, good on bottom pairing, OK if asked to play in Top 4 due to injury — & 77 oft-injured. https://t.co/rOO2mJiJkd
— David Staples (@dstaples) July 20, 2019
Analysis: While the Oilers may aspire to want a third-line center with just $2.4 million of cap space, making it happen requires a reality check. The choices are slim to none. Staples went with the theory of trading defenceman Kris Russell to add the third-line centre the Oilers crave. He’s just not sure the Oilers should go down that path.
Russell is a sound blueliner acting in a bottom-pairing role for the oft-injured Oscar Klefbom. Russell has two years remaining on his four-year $16 million pact. He also has a modified no-trade clause for each year. Moving him may not be that easy. He just turned 32-years-old and is small for a defenceman at 5’10”, 170 pounds.
Rumour: Joe Haggerty of NBCsports.com, asked could the Bruins have engineered a similar trade involving David Backes with the Oilers to get Lucic back at $5.25 million with Edmonton retaining some salary thus saving the B’s almost $1 million cap space the next couple of seasons?
Analysis: Sure, but even though the Boston Bruins may have gained about $1 million in cap space why would they do that? The reality is why take on a couple more years of Lucic’s contract? Backes is nearly finished with his contract two seasons from now. Would it have been worth it to take on a couple more years of Lucic when Backes is going to be finishing up his deal soon?
He could then become a prime candidate for a buyout about this time next year saving them $2.33 million according to capfriendly.com.
Boston needs to create some cap space (like who doesn’t?) to sign two aspiring young defencemen in Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. With just $8.1 million in cap space available, it becomes obvious that they need to shed themselves of contracts like Backes’.
This allows them to sign McAvoy to perhaps a two-year bridge contract at about the $5-6 million range. Then, how much will be left to sign Carlo? This is the predicament the Bruins, as well as other teams in the NHL, find themselves presented with every year at about this time. As far as McAvoy is concerned he has one of two choices. At this point, he either needs to sign the qualifying offer presented to him by the team or sit out waiting for a long term deal. That’s why the bridge deal seems to make sense.