Hello and welcome to the Monday edition of NHL Rumours. Things are slow while we wait and see what happens to the rest of the NHL season. We do not know if the suspension of play will lift this year but rumours are still trickling in. Continue to visit Last Word on Hockey for the best analysis and any news regarding the state of the current season. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Rangers.
Analysis: This would have been a huge move for Arizona. They would have given up four first-round picks but Matthews would have been worth it. The former first overall pick from the 2016 Draft, Matthews has 47 goals and 80 points this year. His supporting cast might not have been as dynamic in Arizona but he would still be one of the top talents in the league with any team.
The Coyotes could have avoided their trade for Phil Kessel had Matthews reached the start of free agency. Kessel has been a good scoring option for years but his production has fallen with Arizona. The 32-year-old has just 14 goals and 38 points in 70 games this season. There is a very real chance 2019-20 will be the first season Kessel fails to score at least 20 goals since 2007-08 when he was with the Boston Bruins. Matthews would have let Arizona keep the assets used to acquire Kessel and apply them elsewhere.
The one potential downside to a Matthews offer sheet would have been fewer assets available when Arizona acquired Taylor Hall in mid-December. They sent three prospects and two conditional picks to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Hall. The first overall pick in the 2010 Draft has been good with Arizona; he has 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, but he hasn’t been the difference-maker the team was expecting. However, fans could have seen Matthews and Hall skate together had the Toronto Maple Leafs failed to extend their young star.
Los Angeles Kings
Rumour: KHL reporter Igor Eronko revealed that the Kings had offered former NHL defenceman Nikita Nesterov at some point in the recent past.
The #gokingsgo offered Nikita Nesterov a 2-year deal worth 6 mln. 26 years old D has a mutual agreement with CSKA on a 5-year extension
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) March 13, 2020
Analysis: This would have been an interesting move for the Kings. Nesterov last played in the NHL in 2016-17 when he split time between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. He was 23-years-old at the time and score four goals and 17 points in 48 games. His most significant contributions came on defence with 84 hits and 21 blocks.
Nesterov is 26-years-old now and has been with CSKA Moscow in the KHL since he left North America. He has seven goals and 23 points in 53 games this season. Nesterov hasn’t developed into an offensive force but he must be doing the right things to draw interest. He had good possession numbers with Montreal and physical stats are also valuable as a way to slow down speedier forwards. Nesterov seems like he’d be an ideal penalty killer in the modern NHL.
The Kings are executing what could be a long rebuild. They could still use Nesterov if they can pry him out of Russia. The team only has three defenders under contract beyond this season. They will have the cap space to retain almost anyone they chose but they might see Nesterov as a quality veteran to help ease the pain of losing. This seems like a situation to watch moving forward.
New York Rangers
Analysis: The 38-year-old is easily a Hall of Fame goaltender but is in decline at his age. Lundqvist has seen his save percentage and goals-against-average drop for six straight seasons. He still sports a .905 save percentage and 3.16 goals-against but those numbers won’t do for an ageing goalie that counts for $8.5 million against the cap.
Lundqvist has been demoted to the third goalie behind Alexandar Georgiev and rookie Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers could have traded Georgiev at the deadline to make room for Lundqvist into next year but they retained the promising 23-year-old. The Rangers will likely enter 2020-21 with two goalies under the age of 26.
They could try to trade Lundqvist but he would have to agree to the deal. No team will take his full cap hit either. They will have to eat some of his money either in a buyout or trade deal. It would be a shame to see Lundqvist’s career end due to a public health scare but his career is still something to celebrate.