As the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers remain mired among the NHL’s worst teams, Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal recently wondered if the two clubs would consider making a deal.
Willis considered Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov an obvious target for Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, who’s been in the market for a defenseman for some time. Another would be Panthers center Shawn Matthias, whose size and defensive skills would make him a welcome asset on Edmonton’s checking lines. Other possibilities include center Tomas Kopecky and former Oilers blueliner Tom Gilbert.
MacTavish also pursued winger David Clarkson last summer before he signed a seven-year, $36.8- million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Given Clarkson’s struggles (including two suspensions) and the Leafs’ recent drop in the Eastern Conference standings, Willis speculated about the possibility of the Oilers acquiring Clarkson.
Willis made his case by citing Clarkson’s team-best Corsi rating, believing the 29-year-old winger can be a reliable 20-goal scorer. He pointed out the rising salary cap in the coming years makes Clarkson’s current contract more affordable than pursuing a free agent of comparable skills.
Leafs followers critical of Clarkson’s performance would be thrilled if the Oilers – or another club – took him off their hands, but his contract (paying him $7 million in each of Years 4 and 5 of the deal) and poor play carries more weight than Corsi numbers among most GMs. Unless the Leafs package Clarkson with James Reimer and/or Jake Gardiner, don’t expect the Oilers to bite.
OILERS GOALIE HUNT CONTINUES
Until he signed Ilya Bryzgalov last month, MacTavish was in the market for a goaltender. With Bryzgalov returning from injury and Devan Dubnyk still struggling, a couple of promising goalie options could be available in the trade market.
Jim Matheson of the Journal recently speculated over goalie Ben Scrivens’ future with the Los Angeles Kings. Scrivens has been relegated to backup duty as promising Martin Jones has taken over the starter’s role while Jonathan Quick remains sidelined. Matheson suggested Scrivens, a free agent at season’s end, could hit the trade block at some point following Quick’s return.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported the Carolina Hurricanes were shopping Justin Peters, claiming the Oilers had “more than a passing interest” in the 27-year-old netminder. MacTavish recently shipped Jason LaBarbera to the Chicago Blackhawks, so adding Peters would mean dumping either Bryzgalov or Dubnyk.
ORLOV NO LONGER WANTS OUT
Three weeks after the agent for Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov asked for a trade, the blueliner appears to be having a change of heart.
Since the request was made in late November, Orlov has played in almost every Capitals game. Over that period he’s seen a steady increase in ice time, from only 13:41 in a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders Nov. 30 to 21:08 in their 5-4 comeback win on Dec. 15 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Orlov told CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley he’d love to remain with the Capitals as long as he continues to play. It was thought the Capitals could package Orlov with winger Martin Erat in hopes of tempting rival clubs to acquire the latter. Orlov’s improved performance boosts his trade value, but also makes the Capitals less likely to part with him.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.