The NHL rumours keep flowing as we approach the start of the regular season. Preseason marches on but Last Word on Hockey is here to give you fans the newest buzz around the league. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, and Boston Bruins defenceman Torey Krug.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Why it’s a good time to be shopping for a D-man and why Thomas Chabot extension will be a steal for Sens https://t.co/jhd3y1gDJu
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 19, 2019
Analysis: The Blue Jackets are certainly in an interesting position. Losing stars such as Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky without equal replacements will do that to any team. However, going the offer sheet route for Mikko Rantanen seems strange. Colorado has the cap space to match almost anything Columbus could offer. The Blue Jackets would also help an already-deep Colorado farm system with the draft picks they would have to give up.
A smarter move would be to look at offer sheeting the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Brayden Point. The Lightning have just $8.48 million or so in cap space. That is far from what Point wants according to his agent. The Blue Jackets would give draft picks to Tampa in the process but adding a stud like Point would be excellent. The team already has three solid forwards in Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist. Exciting rookie Alexandre Texier would also benefit from a player of Point’s calibre in the mix. Such a collection for forwards would be useful if Columbus is going to stay competitive. After giving up so many picks and prospects at last year’s deadline, it is questionable if the Blue Jackets can afford to give up more draft picks though.
Rumour: LeBrun’s article also links Columbus to the Florida Panthers. The Blue Jackets have plenty of blue line options while Florida seeks to add a shutdown-type to their defence core, especially on the left side.
Analysis: The Blue Jackets have plenty of defenders on their roster. Their top duo is going to be Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, and they are near-untouchable but there are almost 10-11 blueliners that are at or near the NHL level. Columbus could certainly seek to move one or two and bolster a forward group that is less than exciting at the moment.
The Florida Panthers could certainly benefit from a more defence-minded option behind Keith Yandle and Michael Matheson on the left side. The current projection there is Ian McCoshen but he has just 60 NHL games under his belt. A move for someone like Ryan Murray makes sense in that context. Murray has over 300 NHL games to his name but comes with a cap hit of $4.6 million that Florida cannot currently afford. The Panthers would have to try and move someone out to make the numbers work. Florida might push for a cheaper option like prospect Vladislav Gavrikov.
It is hard to see how a Columbus-Florida trade would work if the Panthers focused on Murray. The player with the most similar salary is centre Vincent Trochek at $4.75 million but he is going to be a big part of Florida’s top-six. They might want a shut-down left defenceman before the season starts but have no flexibility with just $780 thousand to spare. Gavrikov would work much better given the financial situation. These two teams make perfect partners if they can figure out the money aspect.
Analysis: It is no secret that Buffalo would like to move their most expensive defender. Ristolainen’s welcome is essentially worn out as the team is just over the cap limit and has pivoted to Rasmus Dahlin as it’s main blue line option. The Ducks make for an almost-perfect partner as their defence will be one of the least offensive this year. Risto’s career mark of .46 points-per-game narrowly edges out Cam Fowler who has .44 ppg and blows Hampus Lindholm’s .28 away. Fowler and Lindholm are currently Anaheim’s two best offensive options on defence. Ristolainen would be a great option to help run Anaheim’s power play and let the other two play against the opponent’s best players.
The Ducks could afford to fit Ristolainen in their current salary structure as they have $8.5 million in cap space. The current Sabres defender makes just $5.4 million per year until the end of 2021-22. They could offer Buffalo Ondrej Kase as part of a potential return. The Anaheim wing has a cap hit of just $2.6 million until through 2020-21. He has also scored a solid 73 points in 149 games. Kase’s problem is health but that might not matter to Buffalo. The Sabres are lacking in proven offence outside of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Jeff Skinner. Kase has the potential to score 45-50 points if he avoids the injury bug.
Analysis: Krug has been a top offensive defenceman in the NHL over the past few seasons. He has scored more than 50 points in each of the past three seasons. His production is at a level few others can match at his position. The 28-year-old from Michigan is a current stable of the Bruins blue line but went without an extension this year as the team focused on new deals for Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Krug’s deal should far exceed the contracts they received.
However, Boston currently has just $1.15 million in cap space right now. Several other players will be up for extension next year as well. Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, and Matt Grzelcyk are just some of the names Boston will have to balance next summer in addition to Krug. Krug certainly has an edge when it comes to offensive production but the Bruins have a possible future replacement in McAvoy and a solid blue line prospect in Urho Vaakanainen. Krug could become a victim of his own success and turn into trade bait for a hefty return. He might need to take a discount to stay in Boston and not ask for an exorbitant amount of money like Erik Karlsson did this past summer.
NHL Rumours Main Photo:
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 06: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins attempts a shot against the St. Louis Blues during the third period in Game Five of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)