Even during the dog days of July, when the news is usually a little quieter, there are still plenty of exciting NHL rumours floating around. With arbitration hearings scheduled, general managers are more likely to be in the office than on the golf course. For the Saturday edition of NHL rumours we will be looking at the New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers. What do teams have up their sleeves as the off-season rolls along? Last Word on Hockey has you covered with the latest NHL rumours.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: During the press conference to introduce P.K. Subban as the newest member of the New Jersey Devils, managing partner Josh Harris told the media that General Manager Ray Shero is not done and is working hard, wheeling and dealing.”
#NJDevils managing partner Josh Harris: “We’re not done. Ray is working hard, wheeling and dealing. I don’t mean to portend any (specific) moves, but we’re not done.”
— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) July 25, 2019
Analysis: The Devils have had a good off-season so far. Clearly, they’re happy with the plan Shero and his team put in place. But they want to be even better. Even head coach John Hynes said during the press conference that management is looking for ways to upgrade the team. If there is an opportunity before training camp, the Devils will do that. But what could the move be? The obvious answer is on the defensive side of the puck. Even with all the depth signings, the Devils still have room for improvement.
The Devils could also be looking to upgrade at the forward position as well and have been in contact with the Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes. The team wants to solidify their top-six just in case Jesper Boqvist is not ready to step into the league. It is also possible the Devils want to get a center, especially one who is good at face-offs. Could the Devils bring back a player like Adam Henrique?
Potentially, his cap hit is very team-friendly and he was a good player when he was with the Devils. Nikita Gusev is also still in play for the Devils. The former KHL star is currently being heavily shopped around by the Vegas Golden Knights. And of course, let’s not forget about the possibility of an offer sheet coming out of New Jersey.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: Chris Ryan of NJ.com observed that with the addition of Subban the Devils have considerable depth on the right side of their defensive corps. The left side, however, could still use some help. Ryan mentions that one way the Devils could upgrade the left side is by trading Sami Vatanen.
Analysis: Vatanen is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season. He is the only defenceman that could bring any value back to the team in return. Through his tenure with the Devils, Vatanen has played on the top-pair minutes. In total, he’s scored 45 points in 107 games with New Jersey. He has brought stability back to a Devils defense that has been lacking for some time now.
If the Devils do not want to trade Vatanen they can always go the free-agent route as Ryan suggests as Jake Gardiner is still on the market. Regardless, what option the Devils go with, it would not be surprising to see their name being involved in future trade or free agency talks.
Analysis: By swapping the terrible contracts of Milan Lucic and James Neal, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have shown that no contract is untraceable. The trade has seemed to spark the long-lived trade talks surrounding Eriksson once more.
It would make sense for the Canucks to trade Eriksson to a team that is carrying a permanently sidelined player on long term injury reserve. As Dayal suggests the one team that makes the most sense are the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have the Ryan Kesler contract they also want to get rid of. Kesler will miss all of next season because of hip surgery and probably won’t play again. The Canucks could look to swap Eriksson and Kesler, in hopes of freeing up cap space to re-sign Brock Boeser.
Analysis: Puljujarvi has been asking out of Edmonton since the end of the season. Being Edmonton’s 4th overall selection in 2016, Puljujarvi did not live up to the hype. Part of it is on Puljujarvi on himself for not having the right attitude during his demotions to the AHL. Part of it is on the Oilers themselves. The team pushed a player into the lineup that was not ready for the NHL. If the Oilers were to trade Puljujarvi, it might be best for him to play in Europe to regain his confidence.
Staples proposed three options. First to package the winger with defenceman Kris Russell to a team seeking blue line help. In return, Edmonton could get a forward that has an affordable cap hit. Another option could be bundling Puljujarvi with a younger defenceman (Ethan Bear, William Lagesson or Matt Benning) to a team with limited cap space carrying an affordable forward. Another could be simply swapping him for an affordable forward on a cap-strapped club such as “Vegas, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona, Nashville Predators, Calgary or the Winnipeg Jets.”