The NHL trade deadline is still about two months away, but some big names are already being floated as potential trade chips as teams look to pave the way to their rebuild or tweak their rosters with a Stanley Cup run in mind.
Oilers, Senators expressing interest in Matt Dumba
The Wild blueliner’s name seems to surface in trade rumors almost every year, and this one is no different, with TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger reporting that both Edmonton and Ottawa, among others, have expressed interest in acquiring Matt Dumba from Minnesota.
“When I think of a team that may have a defenseman available, I think of Matt Dumba and the Minnesota Wild. There’s no question that the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators have reached out and do have interest in Dumba,” Dreger said on Tuesday’s edition of “Insider Trading” on TSN.
“Why wouldn’t you? He’s 28 years old, he’s a right-shot defenseman and he’s a pending unrestricted free agent.”
Dumba, of course, is an integral part of the Wild’s defense corps, playing heavy minutes on a nightly basis alongside Jonas Brodin on Minnesota’s second pair. As Dreger noted, Minnesota’s recent surge could complicate things a bit.
“The problem from the Wild’s standpoint is they need him. They’re playing pretty well right now. They’re not sure just yet they are ready to move on from Matt Dumba, even though you look into the future and you see the cap issue of the Minnesota Wild … But the price would be high and then the Wild would have to hit the market potentially to find someone to replace Matt Dumba.”
In the final season of a five-year deal worth a cap hit of $6 million, Dumba has four goals and 11 points in 40 games this season after posting seven goals and 27 points in 57 games in 2021-22.
Teams calling on Erik Karlsson despite massive cap hit
Currently sitting seventh in the NHL points race with 55 (13 goals and 42 assists), Karlsson also sits nine points ahead of Josh Morrissey for the lead among defensemen.
His out-of-nowhere resurgence as a top-flight offensive blueliner reportedly has some teams trying to figure out how they can swing a deal despite the 32-year-old boasting the fourth-highest cap hit in the NHL this season.
“Karlsson has continued to have a torrid season and what’s happened subsequently – we can confirm that teams have engaged with the San Jose Sharks about what a trade could look like,” TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said on Tuesday.
“I still think it’s more likely this waits until the offseason, if at all. Karlsson has a full no-move… but the noteworthy aspect here is that teams have called and have talked to San Jose about Erik Karlsson.”
Karlsson carries a cap hit of $11.5 million through the 2026-27 season. The Sharks, meanwhile, are likely to miss the postseason for the fourth straight year, sitting second-last in the Pacific Division with a record of 13-21-8 as of this writing.
Canucks will try to re-sign Andrei Kuzmenko as trade interest grows
The Vancouver Canucks will attempt to re-sign surging forward Andrei Kuzmenko before trading him amid interest from teams across the league, LeBrun reported on Tuesday.
The team is “expected to open contract talks soon with Kuzmenko,” according to LeBrun, adding the 26-year-old could be staring down a bridge contract worth north of $6 million per season.
“There haven’t been any contract negotiations, although the expectation is that should happen within the month here. But what’s interesting, of course, is that teams are calling,” LeBrun said Tuesday on TSN’s “Insider Trading.”
“Why wouldn’t they be? He’s got a cheap cap hit. Teams that are going for it, that are a contender, have almost no cap room – he would fit the bill both in terms of what he can do offensively and the fact he doesn’t take up a lot of room on the cap.
“But for now, the Canucks aren’t even sure they want to move him. They want to try and see if they can sign him. I think the price starts at at least $6 million per year on a bridge deal for Kuzmenko to stay in Vancouver, where, by all accounts, he is quite happy.”
Kuzmenko, who joined the Canucks last summer after eight campaigns in the KHL, boasts a cap hit of only $950K for the remainder of 2022-23 and sits tied for third on the team in scoring this season with 17 goals and 35 points in 39 games.
The Canucks dropped to 17-20-3 on the season — eight points back of a playoff spot — after Tuesday’s loss to the Penguins.
Jets could make a play for Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov
On a recent episode of the “32 Thoughts” Podcast, Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman said he believes Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov will be moved ahead of the deadline, adding that he believes there’s been a conversation between player and team about both sides moving on.
Co-host Jeff Marek and Friedman floated the Vegas Golden Knights as a possible suitor for Provorov because of GM Kelly McCrimmon’s history with the Russian blueliner, but Vegas’s cap situation would make that a tough fit.
Provorov is signed at $6.75 million per season through 2024-25.
Oilers GM Ken Holland feeling the heat ahead of deadline
With the Oilers trudging through a lengthy stretch of underwhelming play while barely hanging on to the final wild-card spot in the West, the Oilers are at risk of wasting arguably the best season of Connor McDavid‘s career if things don’t turn around quickly.
Edmonton’s biggest issues (among many) have been on defense, so the Oilers are, unsurprisingly, making calls to see what can be done to shore up that blue line.
“I don’t think Ken Holland is ready to panic, but our understanding of the situation is that Ken Holland has been on the phone a little more of late than usual and he is fully investigating what’s out there on the defenseman trade market,” LeBrun said on Tuesday.
“I think Ken Holland is willing to be patient, doesn’t want to make a panic move. The other thing is they aren’t one trade away from fixing everything in Edmonton. I think the message internally is: ‘We need to play better.’ There’s no question that’s been heard,” LeBrun added
The Oilers are currently fifth in the Pacific with a 21-18-3 record as of this writing, while McDavid is the clear front runner for the Hart Trophy despite his team’s struggles.
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