The 2019 NHL Draft (June 21-22) is nearly upon us. While most of the focus is on where the top prospects could go, there’s plenty of trade speculation involving several NHL stars. Here’s a look at the latest.
Ehlers to Carolina? Having shipped Jacob Trouba earlier this week to the New York Rangers, the Winnipeg Jets could use an established top-four right-side defenseman. Chip Alexander of The News & Observer (Raleigh) reports of talk the Jets offered winger Nikolaj Ehlers to the Carolina Hurricanes for one of their blueliners.
Ehlers, 23, managed just 37 points in an injury-shortened 2018-19. Before that, however, he had two straight 60 point campaigns. Cap Friendly indicates he’s signed through 2024-25 with a $6 million annual salary-cap hit. He also lacks no-trade protection for 2019-20.
Ehlers could provide a welcome boost to the Hurricanes’ offense. However, there’s no indication Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell is interested in the Jets’ winger.
Kreider on the block? After acquiring Jacob Trouba from the Jets, the Rangers could find him expensive to re-sign. The New York Post‘s Larry Brooks believes the 25-year-old rearguard could seek at least $7.5 million per season. The Rangers could also be in the market for a first-line scorer like Artemi Panarin or Matt Duchene via free agency on July 1.
Brooks feels that could force them to shop winger Chris Kreider if he hasn’t signed a contract extension by the draft weekend. He’s got a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $4.625 million.
Kreider could be a goner if he seeks more than the Rangers can comfortably afford. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports the winger’s agent submitted his client’s 11-team no-trade list to management. There won’t be a lack of suitors for the 6’3″, 220-pounder.
Lightning, Canucks pursuing Ristolainen? Earlier this spring, there was some media trade chatter regarding Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. As the draft nears, the 24-year-old has surfaced again in the rumor mill.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Tampa Bay Lightning could have interest in Ristolainen. LeBrun feels the Sabres shouldn’t discuss it unless the Bolts are willing to put blueliner Mikhail Sergachev on the table. Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal reports a source claims the Vancouver Canucks could be talking to the Sabres about a defenseman, possibly Ristolainen or Zach Bogosian.
With all-around skill and an affordable $5.4-million cap hit through 2021-22, Ristolainen could attract plenty of interest in the trade market. The Lightning, however, is pressed for cap space and must re-sign Brayden Point. The Canucks can afford Ristolainen but the Sabres’ asking price could be a good young forward like Brock Boeser.
Puljujarvi requests a trade. After three disappointing seasons with the dysfunctional Edmonton Oilers, Jesse Puljujarvi seeks a fresh start. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reports the 21-year-old winger’s agent said his client wants to be traded to another NHL club. Failing that, he’ll play in Europe next season rather than re-sign with the Oilers.
The fourth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Puljujarvi struggled to play up to lofty expectations. Part of it was because of the Oilers mismanaging his development. Critics, however, also believe he lacks the attitude and natural anticipation of an NHL scorer.
Ken Holland, who took over as Oilers GM earlier this spring, indicated he’d trade Puljujarvi if the deal makes sense for his club. Given the winger’s low trade value right now, he’s unlikely to find suitable offers. If he bolts for Europe, the Oilers retain his NHL rights.