It seems that everyone besides the Washington Capitals has started the offseason now that the Stanley Cup Final is over. As such, trade rumors are starting to pop up around the NHL.
Alex Ovechkin and his teammates may still be in party mode—here’s a video of Alex Ovechkin pregaming before yesterday’s parade to prove it—but the rest of the league is trying to figure out how, exactly, to dethrone the new champions.
Trades can turn the fortunes of a franchise around or give a Stanley Cup hopeful that last piece of the puzzle, while swaps can also accelerate rebuilds for struggling franchises.
As such, there’s something for everyone to pay attention to during the back half of June and early July, even though the NHL season is technically in the rear-view mirror.
Philipp Grubauer Generating Some Interest as Potential Trade Target
The league is checkered with solid teams that just can’t get over the hump due to leaky goaltending. Perhaps more than any position, the net is where squads have to at least be hovering around league average if they want to win. Systems can sometimes cover up for so-so defensive units (just ask the 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins) but if you don’t have a goalie who can stop pucks at 5-on-5, you’re toast.
As such, it shouldn’t be too surprising that various teams appear to be interested in Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer. Braden Holtby is the man in Washington. He is fresh off of a Stanley Cup run and has two more years left on his current deal. And at the age of 28, Holtby has at least another half-decade left in his career, meaning that the Caps aren’t really looking for anyone to push him for playing time.
Grubauer is the kind of netminder who can (and has) done just that, though, and as a restricted free agent, he may be a luxury general manager Brian MacLellan can’t afford. Not on top of the kind of money Holtby could command in the summer of 2020, anyway.
Matt Larkin @THNMattLarkin
Prediction: Philipp Grubauer is the Islanders’ starting goaltender next season. Two years ago, Lamoriello acquired a too-good-to-be-a-backup RFA in Frederik Andersen. A Grubauer deal would be familiar territory…
NHL insider Pierre LeBrun recently connected the goaltender to the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes in a post for The Atheltic, writing:
“Philipp Grubauer proved to many this season that he’s got potential to be a No. 1 netminder, and there’s no question there are teams ready to take that gamble.
“Sources indicate the Islanders and Hurricanes are among the teams that have already showed interest in Grubauer. … The 26-year-old German netminder is a restricted free agent this summer, and the cap-challenged Capitals really can’t invest there given Braden Holtby’s secure place as the No. 1 goalie and the team’s hope/desire to re-sign pending UFA blueliners John Carlson and Michal Kempny, not to mention a new deal for pending RFA Tom Wilson.
“So I’d be surprised if Grubauer doesn’t move on this summer to a team giving him the chance to be a No. 1, which is something no doubt he also desires.”
It seems like only a matter of time before MacLellan moves Grubauer; the real interesting part will be the piece or pieces the Capitals receive in return as they gear up for another shot at the Stanley Cup.
Reports Indicate that Oliver Ekman-Larsson is Off the Trade Market
Few organizations in the NHL have more rumors circulating around them than the Arizona Coyotes.
Seemingly always involved in relocation rumblings and unable to build a winning foundation over the years, some wondered whether they’d be able to re-sign franchise cornerstone Oliver Ekman-Larsson before his contract expires next summer.JOE KLAMAR/Getty Images
Fans from across the NHL speculated about what Arizona could want in return for the high-end defenseman, dreaming about Ekman-Larsson in their respective favorite team’s colors. On Tuesday, Craig Morgan of ArizonaSports.com all but dashed the hopes of everyone who isn’t rooting for the Coyotes.
According to the longtime beat reporter, Arizona and Ekman-Larsson have verbally agreed to an extension that will keep him in a Coyotes uniform for years to come. Moreover, Morgan is also reporting that other NHL teams have been told that the defender is no longer on the trading block:
“The Coyotes have reached a verbal agreement with defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on an eight-year contract extension, multiple sources told ArizonaSports.com on Monday. The contract extension will kick in for the 2019-20 season.
“ArizonaSports.com reported previously that the two sides were discussing an eight-year extension with an average annual value of $8.25 million per year. It is unclear if those terms have changed, but the Coyotes felt confident enough that the deal would get done that they have told other teams he was not available in a trade, sources said.”
Will Tyler Seguin Finish the Season as a Dallas Star?
Two years ago, this is the question everyone was asking about Steven Stamkos as he approached free agency.
This season, the chatter surrounded and continues to surround John Tavares.
In 2018-19, Tyler Seguin will be king of the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go rumor mill unless he re-signs with the Dallas Stars or makes it clear that he’s bolting as a free agent.
Andy Strickland @andystrickland
Already interested to see how the Tyler Seguin situation plays out in Dallas. Stars will undoubtedly like to stay away from a potential Tavares/Islanders situation. Would they trade Seguin if they can’t get a deal done this Summer? #Stars
We’re already seeing some rumblings on that front, in fact. While there are no concrete rumors at this juncture (Seguin can’t even re-up until July), some reporters are wondering how Dallas will approach this situation after witnessing how distracting the Stamkos and Tavares extensions were to their respective clubs.
Seguin has arguably been the league’s best bargain while in Texas, racking up the points and providing electric offense for the ridiculously low cap hit of $5.75 million. As a free agent, he could double that number, applying a lot of pressure to Stars management and ownership moving forward.
He’d fetch a king’s ransom as a trade chip, but only if he’s moved early in the year. If the Stars play the wait-and-see game and decide to flip him at the deadline or at the draft next summer, his value will drop sharply.
Which makes this something worth chatting about on social media at the least.