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Rumor Roundup: Unimpressive playoffs could make Eberle expendable

Lyle Richardson
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Rumor Roundup: Unimpressive playoffs could make Eberle expendable

Jordan Eberle. Author: Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Unimpressive playoffs could make Eberle expendable

Lyle Richardson
By:

Jordan Eberle's difficulties could lead Oilers management to renew efforts to move him; Kovalchuk confirms intention to return to NHL; Sedins not looking leave Vancouver.

Over the last two seasons, Edmonton Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle was frequently the subject of trade rumors. With only two points in 12 playoff games, his postseason performance could provide further fuel for off-season trade speculation.

Appearing on Calgary's Sportsnet 960 on Monday, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman suggested Eberle's difficulties could lead Oilers management to renew efforts to move him.

Eberle, 26, put up decent numbers (20 goals, 51 points) this season, so it's possible a rival club seeking a scoring right winger could look into his availability. However, his contract will be a significant sticking point.

With two years remaining on his contract worth $6-million per season, not a lot of teams can afford to take on his cap hit. At this stage in Eberle's career, he's now considered a second-line winger, making his annual salary less palatable.

A club with plenty of cap room in need of experienced scoring depth, such as the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils or the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, could become destinations for Eberle this summer. However, the Oilers could be forced to pick up part of his remaining salary or toss in a decent draft pick or prospect to sweeten the pot.

DEVILS CONFIRM KOVALCHUK'S INTENTION TO RETURN TO NHL

After four seasons skating in Russia, former New Jersey Devils left winger Ilya Kovalchuk wants to return to the NHL. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports Devils GM Ray Shero said agent Jay Grossman confirms his client hopes to return next season.

Kovalchuk, 34, retired from the NHL at the end of 2012-13 in order to play for KHL club SKA St. Petersburg. He was three years into a 15-year, $100-million contract. The Devils' are still being tagged with an annual $250,000 salary-cap recapture penalty running through 2024-25.

Under league rules the Devils own Kovalchuk's rights until age 35, but LeBrun reports Shero said the winger's agent is allowed to speak with other NHL clubs. The Devils are willing to do a sign-and-trade deal but Shero said the move has to make sense for his club.

LeBrun also points out that Kovalchuk cannot sign an NHL contract until July 1. He also cannot be dealt for 2017 draft picks and is ineligible for the expansion draft in June.

Kovalchuk could delay his return until July 2018, when he'll become a full unrestricted free agent. However, it's sounds like he's keen to return for 2017-18.

During his 12 NHL seasons, Kovalchuk was a point-per-game player. Despite his four-year absence, there should be considerable interest in his services.

Kovalchuk isn't the first Russian star to stage an NHL comeback following a lengthy absence. Last summer, the Montreal Canadiens inked right winger Alexander Radulov to a one-year, $5.75-million contract. That gamble paid off, as Radulov finished the season among the Habs' leading scorers.

Kovalchuk won't get an expensive long-term deal, but interested clubs could offer up a reasonable one- or two-year deal worth between $5 -$6 million annually. Shero's asking price in a trade, however, could bog things down. The Devils need scoring punch and could seek a promising young forward in return.

SEDINS NOT SEEKING DEAL OUT OF VANCOUVER

Vancouver Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin have only one season remaining on their contracts. With their careers winding down, they won't get an opportunity for one more run at the Stanley Cup with the rebuilding Canucks.

That could spark some media chatter suggesting the Canucks look into shopping the Sedins to a Cup contender this summer or perhaps by next season's trade deadline. However, Jeff Paterson of The Province considers that scenario unlikely.

Paterson points out the Sedins carry full no-movement clauses and intend to remain with the Canucks for as long as the club wants them. Meanwhile, management isn't interested in shopping the twins unless they request a trade.

Even if the Sedins want out, Paterson doubts a rival club will have sufficient interest in two fading, expensive 37-year-old forwards to part with the draft picks or prospects the Canucks would seek in return.

Of course, a lot can happen between now and the next trade deadline to change the situation. Maybe the Sedins have a mid-season change of heart. Perhaps management gets an offer too good to pass up, prompting them to ask the twins to waive their clauses.

The Sedins, however, have already invested 16 seasons with the Canucks, holding numerous club records. They and their families are happily settled in Vancouver. It's doubtful the chance for one last run at a championship will change their minds about leaving.

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.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Rumor Roundup: Unimpressive playoffs could make Eberle expendable