Buying or Selling Latest NHL Trade and Free-Agency Rumors

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2022

Buying or Selling Latest NHL Trade and Free-Agency Rumors

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    Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

    Two weeks after the start of this summer's NHL free-agent market, most of the best remaining talent has been signed. Nazem Kadri remains the notable exception, providing a tempting target for clubs still in need of a physical scoring center.

    The trade market, meanwhile, remains busy. The Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers pulled off a blockbuster trade on July 22 that saw Matthew Tkachuk shipped to the Panthers for a return that included Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.

    Kadri's availability continues to stoke speculation over where he'll eventually land. Meanwhile, there are ongoing rumors linking Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Montreal Canadiens and talk of the Edmonton Oilers making inquiries about Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane.

    Should we put any stock into these rumors? That's what we'll try to determine as we examine whether to buy or sell the latest NHL trade and free-agent buzz. You can weigh in with your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.

Winnipeg Jets Will Trade Blake Wheeler

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    On June 22, Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler debuted at No. 3 on Daily Faceoff's list of offseason trade targets. Frank Seravalli reported the Jets had spoken to other teams regarding the 35-year-old winger. He has two years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $8.3 million.

    The following day, Sportsnet's Ken Wiebe suggested the stress of being the Jets captain affected Wheeler's performance over the past two seasons. Given the club's struggles last season when it missed the playoffs, Wiebe felt a change of scenery might do Wheeler some good.

    Despite his age and hefty annual cap hit, Seravalli thought Wheeler's contract might not be difficult to move given his physical style and point-per-game production. He also observed that the no-movement clause in his contract reverted this season to a five-team trade list.

    A month later, Wheeler remains with the Jets. On July 15, the Winnipeg Sun's Scott Billeck indicated the club's best opportunity to move its captain was before the free-agent market opened on July 13. He felt the Jets' stubbornness at insisting on interested clubs picking up the entirety of his remaining cap hit hurt efforts to move him.


    Verdict: Sell

    It doesn't appear that there were many teams interested in acquiring an aging winger carrying an expensive cap hit for two more seasons. Unless the Jets agree to retain some of Wheeler's salary or take back an expensive contract, their captain will be suiting up with them for 2022-23.

Jakob Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators?

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    Andrew Lahodynskyj/NHLI via Getty Images

    It's been a productive summer thus far for Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. Within a one-week period from July 7 to 13, he bolstered his offense by acquiring forwards Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, shipped oft-injured starting goaltender Matt Murray to the Toronto Maple Leafs and acquired Cam Talbot as his replacement from the Minnesota Wild.

    Dorion doesn't seem to be finished improving his roster. On July 18, the Ottawa Sun's Ken Warren reported the Senators GM was continuing his search to add a top-four defenseman, pointing out the Arizona Coyotes' Jakob Chychrun remains in play.

    Chychrun, 24, has been the subject of frequent trade speculation. It was believed Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong would attempt to try again to move the blueliner during this offseason if he could find a club willing to meet his asking price.

    A skillful puck-moving defenseman who tallied a career-best of 18 goals and 41 points during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, Chychrun would be a perfect fit with the Senators. His affordable $4.6 million annual salary-cap hit through 2024-25 makes him more enticing.


    Verdict: Sell

    Dorion may have inquired into Chychrun's availability and found the Coyotes' price tag too expensive. On July 13, GOPHNX.com's Craig Morgan dismissed the trade speculation linking the blueliner to the Senators. He anticipates Chychrun will be in the Coyotes lineup when the season begins in October, speculating that he could get moved at next year's trade deadline.

Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Montreal Canadiens

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    Pierre-Luc Dubois signed his one-year, $6 million qualifying offer with the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. There's been speculation, however, linking the 24-year-old center to the Montreal Canadiens.

    Dubois' agent, Pat Brisson, raised eyebrows during a July 13 interview with TVA Sports when he said his client had an interest in one day playing for the Canadiens. The Athletic's Murat Ates reported the Habs had pitched trade offers to the Jets since the July 7-8 draft in Montreal but that their proposals were "inadequate."

    Five days later, the Winnipeg Sun's Paul Friesen reported Dubois wanted to test the unrestricted free agent market in 2024. He also noted Dubois attended the draft at the Bell Centre, anticipating a trade to the Canadiens.

    Dubois addressed the speculation during a news conference Monday, insisting he didn't request a trade and didn't intend to do so. He said the reaction to Brisson's remarks was "overblown." He also explained he was at the Bell Centre at the invitation of his bank for a reception.


    Verdict: Buy

    Dubois may not have asked for a trade, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. He'll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer and will then be a year away from unrestricted free agency. His reluctance to ink a long-term deal and Brisson's comments suggest the rumors linking him to the Canadiens won't go away any time soon.

New York Islanders Pursuing Nazem Kadri

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    Two weeks into the free-agent market, the pickings are slim for quality talent. However, a notable exception is Nazem Kadri. The 31-year-old center is coming off a career-best 87 points. His 15 points in 16 playoff games contributed to the Colorado Avalanche's Stanley Cup championship.

    On July 16, The Athletic's Peter Baugh reported that multiple teams were interested in Kadri and were trying to clear salary-cap space to sign him. Three days later, Colorado Hockey Now's Adrian Dater reported Kadri had offers from several teams but perhaps wasn't interested in playing for them because of their locations, non-contender statuses or both.

    The New York Islanders could be among Kadri's suitors. On Saturday, The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported the Isles were pursuing the former Avalanche center. They already have two top-six centers in Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson, but Kurz suggested one of them could be moved to the wing to make room for Kadri.

    Kurz also speculated Kadri could seek around $8.5 million per season. The Islanders have $11.2 million in cap space, but they have yet to re-sign restricted free agents Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov. Kurz noted Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier have been mentioned in trade rumors during the offseason.


    Verdict: Buy

    Kurz reported July 13 that Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello was interested in Johnny Gaudreau. Having lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Gaudreau sweepstakes, Lamoriello could have Kadri in his sights.

Patrick Kane to the Edmonton Oilers

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    Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Edmonton Oilers made several significant changes this month. They got some much needed salary-cap flexibility with the retirement of defenseman Duncan Keith and the news that goaltender Mike Smith is expected to spend next season on the long-term injured reserve.

    General manager Ken Holland used that wiggle room to bring back winger Evander Kane on a four-year contract and sign free-agent goalie Jack Campbell to a five-year deal. On July 13, Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli (h/t Oilersnation's Cam Lewis) reported the Oilers had "checked in" on Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane.

    Kane, 33, remains among the NHL's elite scorers. He's in the final season of his contract and carries a $10.5 million salary-cap hit and no-movement clause.

    Seravalli said Kane wasn't "ready to move" at that time. On Thursday, The Athletic's Daniel Nugent-Bowman cast doubt that Edmonton will land the Chicago star in the short term, pointing to the winger's contract and a high asking price.


    Verdict: Sell

    The Blackhawks are rebuilding, but Kane has given no indication he wants to be traded. That could change at some point before the trade deadline. For now, though, it appears he'll stay with Chicago.

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