Throughout 2015-16, Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a fixture in the NHL trade rumor mill. Entering this off-season, the 22-year-old was considered the Oiler most likely to be dealt this summer, preumably for a top-four defenseman.
Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli pulled a swerve, however, shipping Taylor Hall in late June to the New Jersey Devils for blueliner Adam Larsson. Since then, the Nugent-Hopkins speculation has cooled.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson notes the trade chatter had the young center linked to Colorado Avalanche blueliner Tyson Barrie and Minnesota Wild rearguard Matt Dumba. With the Wild signing free agent Eric Staal, Matheson suggests they're likely no longer in the hunt for depth at center.
That doesn't mean talk among NHL fans of a deal involving Nugent-Hopkins between the Oilers and Wild has fully died out. The latest had him packaged with left winger Benoit Pouliot in exchange for Dumba and left winger Jason Zucker.
A big problem with this rumor, however, is the Wild only have around $4.7 million in salary-cap space. They're unable to take on the combined $10 milion salary-cap hit of Nugent-Hopkins and Pouliot. Sure, Chiarelli could absorb a big portion of it, but it's doubtful he'll do that.
For his part, Nugent-Hopkins tells Matheson he's not paying much attention to the rumors. “If it happens, it happens,” he said.
EVANDER KANE TRADE SPECULATION HEATS UP
Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane was charged last Friday by Buffalo police with a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief and four counts of non-criminal harrassment. The charges stem from an incident in a Buffalo bar on June 24. If the 24-year-old is found guilty, he won't face jail time.
The Buffalo News' Jerry Sullivan believes this incident raises questions over Kane's character. Noting Sabres GM Tim Murray defended the troubled winger after acquiring him in a February 2015 trade with the Winnipeg Jets, Sullivan suggests Kane's recent actions casts Murray in a bad light. He also reports there were rumors during the 2016 NHL draft last month in Buffalo claiming the Sabres wanted to trade Kane.
NBC Sports' Jason Brough cited a report by TSN 1040 Vancouver's Matt Sekeres claiming the Sabres could trade Kane if they can sign prospect Jimmy Vesey. Acquired from the Nashville Predators in a trade earlier this year, the 23-year-old Vesey's rights are held by the Sabres until Aug. 15, when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency.
If the Sabres re-sign Vesey, the thinking is he could take Kane's place on the roster. Failing that, Brough speculates Kane could be dealt. He notes Murray's recent admission he's losing patience with Kane, as well as the GM's suggestion prospect Alex Nylander could crack the lineup this season.
Should the Sabres shop Kane, the Vancouver Sun's Ben Kuzma suggests the Canucks kick the tires. While acknowledging the winger's recent legal issues, he feels the Vancouver native could be the second-line scoring winger GM Jim Benning is looking for. On Tuesday, THN looked at other potential trade destinations.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Kane is a physical forward with good offensive skills, exceeding 40 points three times and tallying 30 goals in 2011-12. Injuries, however, have so far hampered his efforts to reach his full potential. Factor in his legal troubles and $5.25-million annual cap hit through 2017-18, it seems unlikely the Canucks - or anyone else - will take the gamble.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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