NHL Rumour Roundup: Will slow starts push teams into the trade market?

The Hockey Night in Canada panel discuss all the news and rumours around the NHL including if some Canadian teams are looking to add to their rosters.

American Thanksgiving, which falls from Nov. 23-26 this year, is generally regarded as the point in the season where teams start acting on ways to improve or tweak the roster, whether it’s a player acquisition or coach replacement.

We’re still a few weeks away from that date, but with more than a few notable teams struggling far more than they anticipated early on, and no shortage of names in the rumour mill, could we see a deal made before then?

Keep in mind, approximately 65 trades have been made between the start of the regular season and the American Thanksgiving cut-off since 2005-06, but only a small fraction of those would be considered substantial moves. So it’s a long shot we’ll see a, say, Matt Duchene move so early, but then again, maybe the conditions this season are different.

Here’s a look at the various rumours making the rounds in the NHL at the start of November.


It appears as though the Vegas experiment with the Russian centre is about to end.

Vadim Shipachyov, the 30-year-old who signed a two-year, $9-million contract with the Golden Knights to try his hand in the NHL for the first time, has had trouble getting into the NHL lineup and has twice been assigned to the AHL. He reported on his most recent assignment, but didn’t show up for a game on the weekend, prompting Vegas to suspend him.

Sportsnet’s Eric Engels first reported that Shipachyov had made up his mind that he wanted to leave the NHL to go back to Russia, a conclusion he was working on with the Golden Knights. There were two options to end Shipachyov’s tenure with Vegas: either retire early, like Ilya Kovalchuk, or agree to a mutual termination of the contract, thus making him a free agent again.

The concern Vegas had going the latter route was that Shipachyov then could, technically, sign with another NHL team for less than the two years and $9 million he was getting with the Golden Knights. This option could keep him in the NHL, but Vegas would rather get something for him if he was staying in the NHL than letting a competitor get him for less.

On Thursday, Engels reported that Shipachyov is now back in Russia waiting word on the contract termination, which could signal his intent to stay there and not find a new NHL home.

Prior to all this, Shipachyov’s agent had been given permission from the Golden Knights to try and find a trading partner interested in acquiring him. If there was a move to be made, there were a few teams in need of the kind of scoring upside Shipachyov would bring. Montreal and Carolina come to mind.

The problem was always the risk and price Shipachyov came with — although he scored 76 points in the KHL last season, he has one goal in three NHL appearances and is completely unproven in North America. For $4.5 million against the cap, teams would likely be more interested in using that kind of space on a proven commodity.

If a contract termination is agreed upon, Shipachyov would be open to paying back $1.9 million of the $2 million signing bonus he got from Vegas, keeping the pro-rated amount he’s already earned.


Since they have one of the fastest players in the world playing on their top line, sometimes the Edmonton Oilers are thought of as a fast team. But beyond Connor McDavid, they’re more big and burly than slick and speedy.

As a result, 19-year-old Kailer Yamamoto was shuffled straight from the draft to the NHL after being taken 22nd overall last summer. His foot speed got him top-line minutes with McDavid, but after three points in eight games it’s become apparent the 5-foot-8, 154-pound right-winger needs more seasoning in the WHL with Spokane.

It would be in Edmonton’s best interest to decide on Yamamoto’s fate before he plays in his 10th NHL game, when he would burn a year off his entry-level contract (but not a year towards free agency yet). As the team continues to struggle to score with just 16 goals at 5-on-5 in 11 games, Edmonton’s need for a goal-getting right-winger has become obvious. And it’s possible they’ll try and flip a player they just acquired in the summer to get it.

“They’re disappointed in the Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle deal,” Nick Kypreos said on Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment Saturday. “I think they’re not married to even keeping Strome, if they can move him I think they probably would. The question is, would he bring anything in return of significance? But no question guys it’s a priority for Peter Chiarelli to find some scoring on the right side.”

A factor in finding that scoring on the right side is Jesse Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft who has four points in eight AHL games this season. It’s not clear if he is ready for full-time NHL duty yet, but his draft capital at least puts him in consideration to get a look while the team struggles.

Puljujarvi brings the potential for offence, but the 6-foot-4, 211-pounder may not have the kind of smart speed the Oilers are after.

Speculated Elliotte Friedman on Saturday’s Headlines segment: “they’re looking for speed. One of the teams we’re watching tonight is the Rangers and I just wonder depending on what the Rangers decide to do if there could be a fit with someone like Chris Kreider for Edmonton.”


Off to a miserable 4-7-2 start, which has put head coach Alain Vigneault on the hot seat, the Rangers are still led by 35-year-old Henrik Lundqvist, so it was expected they’d want to keep their window open for as long as Lundqvist is on top of his game.

In the New York Post, Larry Brooks pointed out that team president Glen Sather, assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld and pro scout Gilles Leger were in Ottawa Monday for the Canadiens-Senators game. Since the Rangers are in desperate need of a centre as they feel the loss of Derek Stepan, who was traded to Arizona in the summer, Brooks believed 23-year-old natural-centre-turned-winger Alex Galchenyuk could be of interest to New York, as would Andrew Shaw, a 26-year-old who plays on the edge and has won 58.2 per cent of the draws he’s taken so far this season.

But while we’ve gotten used to the Rangers being aggressive in going for it over the years, that philosophy may be different at this stage with Jeff Gorton now running the team as general manager. The Stepan trade, for instance, made the Rangers younger with Anthony DeAngelo added to the organization, and they just made two picks in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft. There’s a sense that if the slow start turns into something more, that the Rangers could make moves that have more of an eye on the future of the team.

“I think the Rangers are an interesting one,” Friedman said on Sportsnet 650’s The Program. “I think they’re an organization who’s willing to…I don’t know if tear it down is the right word, but they want to add prospects. They’re really excited about the two guys they drafted last year (Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson) in the first round, Chytil the one in the American Hockey League, looks really good. They’ve got a goalie in Russia they’re really excited about. I think they look at it like ‘we need to add young pieces,’ so I think the Rangers are going to be fascinating to watch between now and the end of the season. I think at some point in time Nash will be traded and I think they’ll have a lot of questions about a guy like Kreider.

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“I see a team that I don’t know if they’re ready to do it yet, but I do think they’re a team that’s ready to do some interesting things in order to re-stock and sort of rebuild themselves because they went for it the last couple years and they used up a lot of their tickets to do it.”

As unlikely as it may be, there is even some speculation that Ryan McDonagh isn’t an untouchable part of the roster going forward.


As various goalies around the league struggle through bad starts, and teams such as Vegas need to add someone to serve in at least a backup role, the Winnipeg Jets have reportedly put 27-year-old Michael Hutchinson on the block.

“In the last few days there have been calls to Kevin Cheveldayoff,” Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said on Headlines. “We’ve seen a number of goalies injured around the league, some underperformance as well and the feeling is he’s a guy Winnipeg would be willing to move if they can find the right fit. He’s making $1.3 million in the American Hockey League.”

Hutchinson got a crack as Winnipeg’s No. 2 last season and posted a .903 save percentage in 28 games. He has a .918 save percentage in four games at the AHL level this year. If there is any team that could be an obvious fit, the Golden Knights, who are onto their third-stringer, would top the list.


Anaheim is facing a number of injury problems, with Ryan Getzlaf the latest to hit the shelf, joining Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Cam Fowler. This after getting Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen back a little early.

Still, at 6-5-1, the Cup-contending Ducks are staying afloat and aren’t in desperation mode to do something, but the trade rumours are never too far away.

“The feeling in Anaheim is they can probably weather their way though this, there is a few things they are still looking at and have talked about but the hope is everyone will get back,” Johnston reported.


All quiet on the Duchene front so far. The hottest member of the summer rumour mill remains out there and according to BSN Denver’s Adrian Dater, none of the offers that have been made to this point have been good enough to make general manager Joe Sakic pull the trigger.

In late October, Friedman mentioned on Hockey Night in Canada that there was a sense frustration was starting to grow out of the Duchene camp.

“I think it’s something that we’ll watch as the season continues because I think there was a hope from Duchene it would be done by now,” Friedman said.

Still, the best route out for Duchene is for him to produce and play well for the Avalanche, thus keeping his trade value as high as it can be. He has eight points in 11 games so far, but hasn’t scored in his past five. His contract will continue to drag on his value somewhat, as he will be eligible to become a UFA after next season, so there isn’t a lot of control an acquiring team will have on a player trying to reclaim himself as a top-line scorer in the league.

That prompted Dater to wonder if it would be better for the Avalanche to try and package Nikita Zadorov with Duchene in a deal. Zadorov, a 22-year-old defenceman, nearly missed the start of the season after a contract impasse with the Avalanche before signing a two-year deal worth $2.15 million against the cap. He’s playing 17:39 a night and has two points in eight games.

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