Rumor Roundup: Expensive backup Jimmy Howard likely to hit trade market

Lyle Richardson
Jimmy Howard (Mike Stobe/National Hockey League)

With Petr Mrazek having displaced Jimmy Howard as the Detroit Red Wings’ starting goaltender, questions are being raised over the latter’s future in the Motor City. Howard is under contract through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of $5.29 million.

Now an expensive backup, the 31-year-old netminder could become the subject of trade speculation in the near future. He carries a full no-trade clause, but could waive it for an opportunity to become a starting goalie elsewhere.

Responding to a question from a reader regarding Howard’s trade status, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan speculates the Wings will wait until the offseason to move him. Khan believes they must either pick up part of Howard’s cap hit or take back someone else’s unwanted contract, preferably one not as expensive or as lengthy as Howard’s.

Noting there’s not much of a trade market for goaltenders, Khan suggests the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets or Buffalo Sabres as possible destinations for Howard. The Jets face a similar problem as the Wings, as promising Connor Hellebuyck could make it difficult for veteran Ondrej Pavelec to regain the starter’s job. As for the Sabres, they seem wedded to oft-injured Robin Lehner as their top netminder.

The Flames could be a better destination for Howard, as Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo are eligible in July for unrestricted free agency. However, if Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer becomes available via free agency, the Flames could consider him a more affordable option.

OILERS READY TO BECOME SELLERS

As the Edmonton Oilers’ playoff hopes continue to fade, there’s increasing speculation over which players GM Peter Chiarelli could ship out before the trade deadline. For months, it’s been rumored Chiarelli might deal one of his scoring forwards to bring in a top-four defenseman.

Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was considered the most likely trade candidate. Following the Nashville Predators’ trading defenseman Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen, a report emerged claiming Chiarelli offered Nugent-Hopkins to the Predators for Jones. With the 22-year-old center currently sidelined until March by a hand injury, it’s unlikely he’ll be moved by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Michael Traikos of the Toronto Sun includes Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle among his list of top players who could move by the trade deadline. However, he acknowledges it might make more sense to wait until season’s end to move a player like Eberle.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports there’s plenty of interest in defenseman Justin Schultz if the Oilers want to move him. The 25-year-old is on a one-year deal paying him $3.9 million and slated to become a restricted free agent in July.

Schultz has struggled to establish himself as a top-four defenseman, but could improve on a deeper roster. Chiarelli could wait until the off-season to peddle Schultz, but the blueliner’s also eligible for arbitration rights and only a year away from qualifying for unrestricted free agency. Rather than deal with that headache, Chiarelli could opt to deal him at the trade deadline.

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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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Taylor vs. Tyler: Almost six years later no clear winner in Hall, Seguin debate

Mike Brophy
Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall. (Getty Images)

Admission of truth: This column started out as the definitive I’ll-tell-you-who-is-the-best-now.

Bottom line: It is not.

It was a coin toss in 2010 and it remains a coin toss in 2016.

Taylor or Tyler?

Who would you rather have playing for your team, Taylor Hall, who was chosen first in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, or Tyler Seguin, chosen No. 2 by the Boston Bruins?

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The Oilers? In the playoffs? It’s not as crazy as it sounds

Matt Larkin
Jordan Eberle, Connor McDavid and Benoit Pouliot. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hey you. Commenter who calls everything clickbait. Relax. I said RELAX. The Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs? It’s not the most harebrained question in the world.

The Oilers have a mountain to climb in the Western Conference, though it’s more bunny hill than K2. Edmonton sits eight points back of the Anaheim Ducks for the last Pacific Division playoff position, and the Ducks have three games in hand. The Oilers’ more realistic target is the Nashville Predators, who lead them by nine points in the final West wild-card spot but at least have no games in hand. Hockeyviz.com gives the Oil a five percent chance at qualifying for the big dance. TSN’s Frank Seravalli, who woke up this morning with the same thoughts on the brain as I had, estimates Edmonton has to go 21-5-4 for the rest of the season and points out the miraculous Ottawa Senators closed last season 23-4-4 to get in.

So maybe the Oilers have to scale more than a bunny hill after all. Still, seeing what they’ve accomplished since Mr. Connor McDavid returned from a broken clavicle, it’s suddenly worth asking if they’re primed to make a run. Edmonton dismantled the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators by a combined score of 11-3 this week, with McDavid racking up five points in that span. Sure, it was just Columbus and Ottawa, but those two teams looked like they didn’t belong in the same building as Edmonton. The Oilers continue their road trip with, guess what, another team as sturdy as a wet paper bag right now: the discombobulated Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers play 16 of their final 30 games at home in 2015-16. They play 16 of their final 30 games against teams currently out of playoff spots, too, with most of the other games versus teams they’re chasing for the lower seeds.

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Connor McDavid returns Tuesday and Calder could still be in his sights

Jared Clinton
Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

After three months on the sideline, Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid will reportedly be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and as hard as it may be to believe, the 19-year-old may still have enough time to get back in the Calder Trophy race.

Before McDavid hit the shelf following a fractured clavicle on Nov. 3, he had burst out of the gate and was the early frontrunner for the Calder. Just before his injury McDavid had gone on a seven-game point streak in which he racked up 11 points, and he was tops among all rookie scorers with five goals and 12 points in 13 games. He even earned himself the rookie of the month nod for October.

During his lengthy absence, however, McDavid has been surpassed by much of the rookie class, including Chicago’s Artemi Panarin, Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, Detroit’s Dylan Larkin and Arizona’s Max Domi. In the past three months, Panarin has widened his lead on McDavid to 34 points, Eichel now sits 22 ahead, Larkin has a 21-point margin and Domi, the last of the 30-point scoring rookies at this point in the season, is 20 points up on McDavid.

In a rookie class that’s full of bright offensive stars, the Calder race could come down to who’s atop the scoring lead when the campaign closes. With that in mind, does McDavid really have a shot at taking home the hardware at season’s end? Read more

Rumor Roundup: Oilers still in need of help on defense, eye Hamonic, Vatanen

Travis Hamonic (Al Bello/Getty Images)

How the Edmonton Oilers address their longstanding need for a top-two defenseman remains an ongoing topic of interest among NHL pundits. The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples cites 630 CHED’s Bob Stauffer claiming the Oilers could try to upgrade at right defense by replacing Justin Schultz, listing the New York Islanders’ Travis Hamonic and the Anaheim Ducks’ Sami Vatanen as possible targets.

Stauffer’s guest, Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman, didn’t doubt the Oilers could pursue the 25-year-old Hamonic, who requested a trade to be closer to his Manitoba home last summer for family reasons. Friedman believes the Oilers could soon reach the point where they shop one of their good young forwards, like right wing Jordan Eberle or center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for a blueliner.

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McDavid cleared for full contact, will practice with AHL Condors during all-star break

Jared Clinton
Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Edmonton rookie Connor McDavid could be back in the Oilers lineup in their first game back from the all-star break, as he’s officially been cleared for full contact.

For the duration of the all-star break, McDavid, 19, will head to the AHL and join the Bakersfield Condors. McDavid won’t be taking part in any games, though, and be spending his entire break practicing with the Condors to get back into game shape.

“Management and I kind of came together and agreed that I’ll go to Bakersfield and go down there and skate and keep practicing. It’s a long break between now and then,” McDavid told EdmontonOilers.com’s Chris Westcott. Read more

Pride Tape aims to inspire LGBTQ youth by offering badge of support

Jared Clinton
Andrew Ference (via Pride Tape/Kickstarter)

Ahead of the NHL All-Star Game, the Edmonton Oilers will be hosting their own skills competition to crown the team’s fastest skater, most accurate sniper, hardest shooter and more. But those paying close attention during Sunday’s team skills competition will notice the Oilers players doing more than simply competing against each other, as the team plans on becoming the first to use Pride Tape as a badge of support for LGBTQ youth everywhere.

Pride Tape — hockey tape bearing rainbow colors — was an idea brought to life in large part by the efforts Kris Wells and Jeff McLean with the goal of helping inspire youth athletes from the LGBTQ community to remain in sport. Wells, faculty director of the University of Alberta’s Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS), said that research has shown LGBTQ youth are less likely to participate in physical education and organized sports.

“We really wanted to come up with a way to continue to support dialogue at all levels of sports,” Wells said. “We landed on this concept with our creative partners, Calder Bateman Communications, to allow athletes at any level of sport to use this rainbow tape, Pride Tape, to signal their support for LGBTQ youth. We really conceptualized Pride Tape as a badge of support for LGBTQ youth, and we hope that these six colors will change the world of sports and, in particular, hockey.” Read more