Rumor Roundup: Veterans among potential trade chips for Oilers, Senators

Chris Neil (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch published his list of potential free agents to watch in 2015-16. Among the usual suspects like Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Garrioch included Edmonton Oilers right wing Teddy Purcell and Ottawa Senators winger Chris Neil.

With the Oilers and Senators rebuilding with young players, Garrioch doubts there’s room for Purcell and Neil on their respective clubs after this season. Purcell, 30, is earning $4.5 million this season. The 36-year-old Neil has a salary-cap hit of $1.9 million, for 2015-16, though in actual salary he’ll collect $1.5 million. Unlike Purcell, Neil has a modified no-trade clause that gives him control over where he can be dealt.

Garrioch claims if Neil hadn’t broken his thumb last season, there’s a “good chance” he would’ve wound up with the Nashville Predators. He feels Neil’s low salary is a reason why teams are still calling about him. His experience and toughness are also likely factors.

Purcell enjoyed several seasons of offensive success with the Tampa Bay Lightning, including a career-best 65-point effort in 2011-12. Acquired by the Oilers in June 2014, he struggled in Edmonton last season, tallying only 12 goals and 34 points in 82 games.

Even if Purcell regains his offensive touch this season, the Oilers depth in talented young forwards likely means he doesn’t have a future in Edmonton. If they’re out of playoff contention by the New Year, expect his name to surface in the rumor mill.

Performance will also be a factor for Neil. He’s at an age where his physical style takes almost as much of a toll upon him as it does on his opponents. Should he end up losing playing time to his younger teammates, Neil could hit the trade block before the December trade freeze.


Several notable NHL veterans recently cleared waivers and were demoted. Among them were Edmonton Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin and goaltender Ben Scrivens, Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Andrew MacDonald and Calgary Flames winger Mason Raymond.

They all carried significant salaries. Nikitin and Scrivens’ combined cap hits are $6.8 million, MacDonald’s $5 million and Raymond $3.15 million. Their teams only get $950K each in cap relief, so that’s a lot of money riding the buses in the minors this season.

The Oilers and Flyers are paying for the sins of their previous management. Nikitin and Scrivens are both eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency, so there’s a chance at some point one or both could end up on the trade block. MacDonald and Raymond, however, still have term remaining on their contracts, making it difficult to shop them.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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What can Curtis Lazar and the Senators do for an encore?

Ryan Kennedy
Ottawa's Curtis Lazar  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators had an incredibly good second half last season. With surprise starter Andrew Hammond on fire and replacement coach Dave Cameron giving the team’s young core a huge boost in confidence, the Sens went 23-4-4 to end out the season, landing themselves a shocking playoff spot and providing game competition for Montreal in the first round.

But that’s all in the past now. A clean sheet of ice awaits Ottawa in 2015-16 and the Sens have learned from last year’s less-than-ideal process.

Read more

Senators GM Murray: Suspended prospect Wikstrand can ‘go back and be a grocery clerk’

Jared Clinton
Mikael Wikstrand (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The regular season hasn’t even started and Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray already has an early contender for quote of the year.

Friday afternoon, Ottawa officially suspended defensive prospect Mikael Wikstrand, who left Ottawa Thursday evening without informing the organization in order to return to his home in Sweden. In addressing the media Friday, Murray was asked to comment on the situation regarding Wikstrand.

“I told him he could go back and be a grocery clerk or play in the beer leagues,” Murray said. “But he could not play (professional) hockey in any shape or form if he doesn’t play for the Ottawa organization.” Read more

Futures mailbag: Which 2015 draft picks are going straight to the show?

Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome back to my mailbag, where all manner of questions on prospects and the draft are answered. If you have something you want to know about, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and hashtag it #thnfutures. You might see the question here in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, let’s get to the latest round of inquiries, the first of which is very timely:

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Rumor Roundup: Hiller could be odd man out in Flames crease

Jonas Hiller turns aside Bo Horvat (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames entered training camp carrying three goaltenders in Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and promising Joni Ortio. At some point, they’ll have to address this potential log jam between the pipes.

Should the 24-year-old Ortio have a strong training camp, the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis speculates Hiller could become the odd man out. Despite winning 26 games last season, the Swiss netminder was often inconsistent. The 33-year-old is entering the final year of his two-year contract carrying a cap hit of $4.5 million.

Ramo, meanwhile, is on a one-year, $3.8 million deal. Ortio is carrying an affordable $600K salary this season, but he can’t be demoted without first passing through waivers. Given his potential, a rival club is sure to pluck him off the wire. Read more

Alfredsson’s back in Ottawa, joins Senators as senior advisor of hockey operations

Jared Clinton
Daniel Alfredsson (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The most celebrated player in Ottawa Senators history is officially back with the team, as Daniel Alfredsson has been brought aboard by the team as senior advisor of hockey operations.

Alfredsson, 42, will join the club at training camp and will begin his role in time for the beginning of the 2015-16 season. In his role as senior advisor, the Senators say Alfredsson’s duties will include scouting and player development and that the longtime Ottawa captain will work closely with GM Bryan Murray.

“I am excited for our fans and our team that Daniel has agreed to begin the second part of his storied hockey career right where he belongs – with the Senators,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in a release. “Daniel has been an exceptional part of our team’s history. He was a tremendous leader on the ice and equally in our community. I very much want him to continue to be part of our hockey club and our city.

“Bringing the Stanley Cup to Ottawa has always been my focus, now more than ever. I believe Daniel’s experience and track record as one of the elite players in our league will bring us closer to that goal.” Read more

THN’s 2015-16 NHL season preview: Ottawa Senators

The Hockey News
Ottawa Senators players celebrate a victory. (Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images)

2014-15 Record: 43-26-13 (99 Pts.)

THN’s Prediction: 4th, Atlantic Division

What To Expect: Certainly, the Sens’ upcoming season won’t be as wild as 2014-15. With terminally ill GM Bryan Murray looking down from the press box, his team orchestrated a 23-4-4 finish, snagging the seventh seed on the final day of the season, on the back of a no-name goaltender. Andrew Hammond’s moniker, ‘The Hamburglar,’ is now ubiquitous in Ottawa after the Senators’ miraculous run.

Ottawa went 32-15-8 under coach Dave Cameron after he took over for Paul MacLean in December. The Senators enter 2015-16 with the roster mostly unchanged, albeit with expectations heightened significantly. They’ll once again be right on the cusp of a playoff spot until the final week of the season. Whether they’re in or out will be decided by a handful of points. Read more