Since last fall, Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was suggested as possible trade bait to address their need for a skilled top-four defenseman. On Friday, Sportsnet's Mark Spector cited multiple sources claiming the Oilers offered up the 22-year-old center to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Seth Jones before he was eventually dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Leon Draisaitl has emerged as a first-line center for the Oilers while promising rookie Connor McDavid is set to return to action following the All-Star break. With that much depth down the middle, it's not surprising Nugent-Hopkins could be available.
Having failed to land Jones, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will likely set his sites elsewhere. Nugent-Hopkins was recently linked to the Minnesota Wild, who are seeking a boost at forward and have plenty of depth on defense. There's talk Jonas Brodin and his $4.16-million annual cap hit could be available.
Another possibility is St. Louis Blues rearguard Kevin Shattenkirk, who's a year away from UFA eligibility at a current cap hit of $4.25 million. Injuries decimated the Blues' forward lines this season, adversely affecting their offense. A swap of Nugent-Hopkins for Shattenkirk could be a good fit for both clubs.
Nugent-Hopkins' expensive cap hit ($6 million) could be a sticking point. Interested parties could insist on the Oilers picking up part of it, or taking back another salary in return.
Toward the end of last week, reports suggested unhappy Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin was close to be traded. Entering this week, however, the 20-year-old remain on the Lightning's farm team amid ongoing rumors about his potential suitors.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claims as many as 15 teams are believed to have contacted the Lightning about Drouin. Among the supposed suitors are the Blues, Wild, and Predators.
Because the Anaheim Ducks recently shipped winger Carl Hagelin to the Pittsburgh Penguins for left wing David Perron and defenseman Adam Clendening, Garrioch believes they're no longer in the Drouin bidding sweepstakes. Sportsnet's Damien Cox disagrees, claiming some observers feel that move was setting them up to acquire Drouin.
The Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson reports the Lightning are thought to be seeking a right-handed defenseman and a young prospect with term remaining on his contract. They could also try to include Matt Carle and his $5.5-million annual cap hit in the deal.
Cox reports Carolina Hurricanes captain and pending UFA Eric Staal remains in a sort of limbo regarding his future. His agent will reportedly meet with Hurricanes management later this week.
If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement on a new contract soon, Staal could be shopped before the trade deadline. That move requires his blessing, as he has a full no-trade clause. Should Staal hit the trade market in the coming weeks, he'll attract the interest of playoff contenders seeking offensive depth.
Late last week, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson suggested the Anaheim Ducks could be a good fit. With their weekend swap of Hagelin for Perron, that's unlikely to happen. Other clubs in need of scoring punch include the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Blues.
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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