Rumor Roundup: Evander Kane, Eric Staal and the struggling Canucks

Winnipeg Jets v Phoenix Coyotes

Trade rumors dogged Winnipeg Jets’ winger Evander Kane throughout this season. Speculation over his future resurfaced after he was a healthy scratch during last Saturday’s match between the Jets-Maple Leafs in Toronto for arriving late for a team function.

Kane subsequently declined to discuss the incident with the media and was evasive when asked if he wants to be traded.The Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe mused over the 22-year-old’s future in Winnipeg. While noting “to our knowledge” Kane hasn’t sought a trade, Wiebe believes that doesn’t mean Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff isn’t entertaining offers.

Hampered by injuries this season, Kane has been limited to 17 goals and 39 points in 61 games. He is currently in the second season of his six-year, $31.5-million contract and lacks a no-trade clause. THN columnist Rory Boylen notes Kane’s actions on and off the ice provide grist for the rumor mill.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie told NHL.com he thinks Kane and Jets management must “take stock of their respective situations” during the off-season. Citing Kane’s potential to become a 40-50 goal scorer, McKenzie believes the Jets must be careful not to make a trade from which they might not recover. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman believes Kane is too valuable to give up on, though he acknowledged that doesn’t mean Cheveldayoff isn’t quietly listening to offers.

It would be wise for the two sides to clear the air. If Kane indicates a desire to move on, Cheveldayoff can take steps to trade him this summer, perhaps by the NHL draft weekend in June. As Boylen and McKenzie note, however, the Jets GM must tread carefully. Failing to land a return that significantly improves the Jets would be bad enough. Kane becoming a superstar elsewhere could cost Cheveldayoff his job.

Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal was recently mentioned (along with goalie Cam Ward and forward Jeff Skinner) by TSN’s Darren Dreger as a possible trade candidate this summer. An Oilers fan asked the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson via e-mail if the Oilers could land Staal by offering up Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov.

Matheson believes Staal could be a good mentor for young Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but thinks it will take far more than an offer of Gagner and Yakupov to get him.

Staal must also agree to waive his no-trade clause to get a deal done. It seems unlikely he would do that to go from the struggling Hurricanes to the bottom-feeding Oilers.

THN columnist Adam Proteau suggests the Vancouver Canucks not only try to move center Ryan Kesler this summer, but also the Sedins for the best possible return. Proteau believes the twins will be at the right age (34) to join a Cup contender where they don’t have to be the main focus on offense. He also feels having the pair under contract to 2018 gives the Canucks more leverage than if they were pending free agents this summer.

Those factors, however, also work against them. The Sedins’ offensive production (singly and combined) has steadily declined since 2011 as age and injuries take their toll. Many teams would balk at their $14 million combined annual cap hit over the next four seasons. Their respective no-movement clauses ensure there’s no possibility of breaking them up.

The Canucks will have an easier time shopping Kesler this summer. The Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma wonders if changing coaches and playing style might convince the 29-year-old center to stay in Vancouver. Given the Canucks recent firing of Mike Gillis as GM, that doesn’t seem likely.

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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