Hello and welcome to a Wednesday edition of NHL Rumours! Can you believe the season has just days left until the playoffs begin? It is a bit stunning to imagine that in just weeks we will be pondering playoff races and what teams do when the off-season begins. Be sure to check Last Word on Hockey often for the latest news from around the league. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, and Chris Wideman.
Wherein I price out Andrew Copp's next contract, using ice-time and point production comparables, discuss Kevin Cheveldayoff's work, and try to solve the defence in a word or two.
— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) May 3, 2021
Analysis: Winnipeg should absolutely not trade Copp for two reasons. First, he is a productive player still in his 20s that can play in almost every situation. Second, they have very few players who are both still in their primes and capable of playing top-nine minutes.
The only reason Winnipeg would trade someone who probably won’t receive a back-breaking raise this summer is they are absolutely convinced someone younger is ready. That would mean the team has faith that some combination of David Gustafsson, Cole Perfetti, or another prospect is deemed good enough for 2021-22. That is a huge amount of pressure for someone who might have only a handful of games on their hockey reference page at most.
If the team really wants trade someone, it should be an older player who is doing worse this year. That may mean either Adam Lowry or Paul Stastny. Lowry has a very affordable contract through 2025-26, but he is a centre. That is a position of strength for Winnipeg. The team could flip Lowry for other assets, promote Perfetti, and let the talented teenager handle a regular role on the top nine. Moving a forward should be a secondary concern for the Jets, but there are smarter options than Copp if they do.
Rumour: Eric Francis of Sportsnet recently speculated on who Calgary might lose in the expansion draft this summer.
Lucic reveals he’s waived his NMC for the Seattle expansion draft.
He explains why, as we look at how significantly it affects the future of the Flames as it pertains to expansion. https://t.co/GfF7ABmaXu
— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) May 4, 2021
Analysis: The piece speculates that Mark Giordano, Oliver Kylington, and Derek Ryan are the three likely options. Of those three, Giordano and Kylington feel like solid options for Seattle. One is an old, but popular defender who can still be average. The other is a young defender with some upside.
The good thing is that Calgary should be fine without either. The team might execute a soft rebuild this off-season and neither Giordano nor Kylington are core players. The Flames have younger and more talented defenders at this point. Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson are two defenders who have far more value moving forward.
Fans might want Calgary to make a trade to protect Giordano given his popularity, but they can do far more with the money that would cover his cap hit of $6.75 million. Backup goalie should be a priority this off-season and the top-nine needs reinforcements as well. Keeping Giordano does nothing to improve the team’s short-term or long-term outlook.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts article indicated that KHL defender Chris Wideman wants to return to North America.
31 Thoughts for this week…. https://t.co/uCol8vbTZp
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 4, 2021
Analysis: Wideman has not played in the NHL since 2018-19, but he seems to have found a new gear in the KHL. Had a very good year with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod with nine goals and 32 points in 59 games. He also scored one goal and two points in four playoff games. 2020-21 represents Wideman’s highest scoring output since he posted 19 goals and 61 points with AHL-Birmingham in 2014-15.
It’s not hard to imagine an NHL team taking a chance on the former fourth-round pick given his play in Russia. Multiple organizations can find a spot among their top four defenders for a right-handed defender capable of contributing points. The fact that a handful of organizations will lose a defenceman to Seattle in the expansion draft only improves the odds that Wideman returns to North America for 2021-22.
One team that might love giving Wideman another chance is the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team doesn’t have a pressing need on the blueline considering current depth, but Jarmo Kekalainen is never one to avoid an upgrade. Wideman could be a solid rotation defender on the right side with Andrew Peeke that won’t cost serious money. Columbus probably won’t be the only team checking Wideman out, but they feel like an ideal situation for someone returning from Russia.