With the NHL offseason underway we will take a daily look at some of the rumors around the NHL. Today we look at some updates on the Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade front, Torey Krug‘s pending free agency, and what’s going on with Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Still a two-team race for Ekman-Larsson
The biggest trade chip (that we know of) hanging out there right now remains Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Ekman-Larsson has “almost certainly played his last game” as a member of the Coyotes, and that his preference is to be traded to either the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks.
And his preference matters here because he has a full no-trade clause that allows him to dictate where he goes. That certainly puts new general manager Bill Armstrong into a little bit of a corner for his first major move.
More, from Johnston:
Neither of those teams owns its 2020 first-round pick, which means a potential return likely starts with a 2021 first and includes a prospect, plus another pick. This isn’t an easy deal for new Arizona general manager Bill Armstrong to maneuver because he’s dealing with a limited market.
The Coyotes like Boston’s prospects more than Vancouver’s, but, on the weekend, it seemed like the Canucks were the more motivated buyer, liking the idea of a long-time left side of Ekman-Larsson and Quinn Hughes. It is believed Arizona asked about Thatcher Demko, which would have been a non-starter.
Bruins haven’t had any progress with Torey Krug
Speaking of the Bruins and a major defenseman, general manager Don Sweeney acknowledged on Monday that the team has had no progress with pending free agent Torey Krug.
If the Bruins are able to land Ekman-Larsson in a trade you have to imagine that it would almost certainly mean that Krug will not return given the salary cap constraints.
But if the Bruins do not land Ekman-Larsson, it would have to increase their motivation to complete a deal with their long-time standout blue-liner.
More from Sweeney on Monday, via NESN:
“Several free agents have have gone and tested the market and come back to the same place that they were at, and it’s something we would also consider,” Sweeney said. “There’s no way in hell you’re going to change my opinion of what I think Torey has the right to do and I believe that. So, he’s put himself in a great position, either with us or with other teams that have interest in him. I’ll listen to any situation that might improve our hockey club and move forward from there if it plays out that way.”
Penguins, Blackhawks talked Matt Murray trade?
The Chicago Blackhawks are going to be in the market for a goalie, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to trade a goalie.
They were a natural match for trade talks.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the two teams talked about a potential Matt Murray trade, with the Blackhawks even having permission to speak to Murray about a long-term contract (Murray is a restricted free agent). For whatever reason (either trade compensation or contract talks) things did not work out.
It still seems to be a matter of when, and not if, the Penguins move Murray this offseason. They already re-signed Tristan Jarry to a three-year contract and are presumably ready to move forward with him as their new primary goalie.
Tyler Johnson on the move from Lightning?
The Tampa Bay Lightning have two significant restricted free agents to re-sign this offseason (forward Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev) and two unrestricted free agents they would probably like to re-sign (Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrick Maroon).
The problem? No salary cap space to do all of that.
Two of the most likely candidates to be moved to create the salary cap space are veteran forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. But even that presents a problem in the form of no-trade clauses. Johnson has a full no-trade clause, and according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun the Lightning approached him over the weekend about starting to work on a potential move. He still has four years remaining on a contract that pays him $5 million per season.
Johnson is a good player, but that is a steep price for a 30-year-old forward coming off of a 14-goal, 31-point season in 65 games.