Welcome back to another Wednesday edition of NHL Rumours brought to you from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. We’re almost into December which means trade rumours should start to pick up even more before the trade freeze. Today we have NHL rumours from the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars and the Washington Capitals.
Rumour: The first of our NHL rumours comes from John Shannon. He reported via Twitter that the Oilers are still trying to move Jesse Puljujarvi before the 5 PM EST deadline on December 1st. He mentions that the club does not feel pressure to move the player for less than full value. However, the belief is that it is time to move on from the player.
December 1 is the deadline for signing Group 2 free agents (5 p.m. ET)…Oilers still looking to move Puljujarvi…Stars willing to talk on Honka…Neither team feeling pressure to move players for less than full value.
In Edmonton, there is a belief that its time to move on.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) November 26, 2019
Analysis: Time is quickly creeping up on the Oilers to try to find a new home for the former first-round draft choice in 2016. The issue that is being presented from the Puljujarvi side however it the fact that he has stated he plans to finish the season in Finland. If a team ends up trading for Puljujarvi in the coming days, chances are they won’t see him dress for their club until next season. Unless of course, they can persuade him.
The other issue is deciding on a return that works for both teams. The Oilers are not going to just hand Puljujarvi over to a team on a silver platter. However, given his lacklustre statistics while he was in North America, combined with him now playing over in Finland hurts his trade value. He has, however, put together a nice season thus far scoring 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 22 games.
New York Rangers a Possible Trade Partner?
As Jim Matheson tweeted on November 24th, the Oilers wish list is a right shot third line centreman (which we looked at in a previous rumours post) as well as a second-line left winger with some consistent offensive pop to play alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal.
One name that comes to mind right away is Chris Kreider from the New York Rangers. Kreider has been subject to trade rumours over the past two seasons and would certainly fit what the Oilers are looking for. Kreider is a big power-forward who has excellent skating abilities and is a proven goal scorer. He has hit the 20 goal plateau in four of the last five seasons. The one year he did not hit the mark, he finished just four goals shy of 20 and only played in 58 games. Adding Kreider would certainly solidify the depth in Edmonton and give the Oilers two potent scoring lines.
The Rangers were rumoured to be in on Puljujarvi earlier this season, so the two clubs may try to figure something out before the December 1st deadline.
If the Oilers could add Krieder and added a third-line centre like Jean-Gabriel Pageau to go along with it, they could become a Stanley Cup contender this season.
Rumour: In the same tweet from John Shannon, he mentions Julius Honka as another disgruntled restricted free agent who is looking for a fresh start. He would surely like to get dealt before the December 1st deadline.
Analysis: This one is a little more surprising. When Honka requested to be traded back in September, most people thought he would have been moved before the season opened in October. However, here we are, November 27th and Honka’s rights are still owned by the Dallas Stars. So what gives? The Stars have their price set high for Honka. With the number of teams’ in the market for a right-shot defender, one of them would have taken a chance on Honka by now if the price was not absolute ludicrous.
Winnipeg Jets a Potential Suitor for Honka?
A team to watch here would be the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets lost all three of their right shot defenders in the off-season (Dustin Byfuglien remains with the team but it is unknown if he is going to play this year). They currently only have two right-shot defencemen on their NHL roster and it’s a position of weakness for the team. Honka would get a shot to jump into a top-four role if he was acquired by the Jets and could be exactly what is needed to jump-start the youngsters NHL career. Honka is still only 23-years-old and is currently playing in Finland where he has three goals and three assists in 13 games.
Bob McKenzie reported a while ago that the ask for Honka was a second, third or a young player. It is hard to believe that the Jets would not be willing to give up one of those pieces to acquire the young defender. However, if this truly is the ask and the Stars are not looking to gain a player who could help the roster this season, then the Stars do not need to rush to make a deal. They could wait and engage in trade talks again in the off-season. Rushing to move Honka and settling for whatever offer comes in before the deadline would only benefit Honka, not so much the Stars organization.
Rumour: We end our NHL rumours segment with a hit from Samantha Pell of the Washington Post. She writes that Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan thinks that the Capitals blue line has been inconsistent as a whole. The hope is that one of Radko Gudas or Nick Jensen can grab a hold of the number four spot and keep it. When asked if he would look outside the organization if they could not step up and secure it, MacLellan said: “I think we like both players, so I think we’re gonna make every effort to make it work with the guys we do have.”
Caps GM Brian MacLellan said the team’s blue line is inconsistent as a whole. He mentioned two players in particular: Gudas and Jensen.
“I’d like to see one of them grab that No. 4 spot and just hang onto it and go forward for the rest of the year.” https://t.co/uGGKxyhBdD
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) November 26, 2019
Analysis: MacLellan says the right things here. He does not want to bring down the morale in the room by talking about moving out players. However, we all know that is not how the NHL works. When it comes to a team like the Capitals, they are going to do everything in their power to improve their team and gun for another Stanley Cup. Their best players are not getting any younger, so the time is now for the Capitals to try to grab another Cup in the Ovechkin era.
So what is the best plan of attack? Well, for now, it very well might be just let Gudas and Jensen fight it out for the time being. However, MacLellan will certainly keep a close eye on the situation. The issue is at the moment, they cannot afford to bring in a large salary. So they have to either move out a salary in the process or look for a cheaper option for the right side. How about the aforementioned Julius Honka? Honka is a right-shot defender. He’s young so he can grow with the team moving forward, and will not cost the Capitals a ton of assets to acquire him. He has the upside to slot into a top-four role moving forward. He could be exactly what the Capitals need to solidify their defence.
A more expensive option would be Travis Hamonic from the Calgary Flames. The Flames are currently sitting outside the playoffs. They would only make Hamonic available if they are not able to find a way to turn around their season. Hamonic would be a more proven option but would be more of a deadline deal than anything. The Flames would have to be sure they were out of the playoff hunt. The Capitals would need to make sure they had the cap to make it work. Whatever way you look at it, it sounds like the Capitals could be on the hunt for some defensive help shortly.
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