There are many NHL rumours for this Wednesday. We’re a week away until the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, and teams with good assets to lose are starting to feel the heat. Difficult decisions around the expansion draft have to be made, and the Kraken are reportedly asking for high prices for side deals. The New York Islanders appear to have made their decision on a potential expansion draft causality. There also is some trade talk around the Chicago Blackhawks and more serious news about Shea Weber.
Rumour: Renaud Lavoie first reported that the Montreal Canadiens may not protect Shea Weber in the expansion draft because of serious injury issues with Weber that may force him to miss next season and possibly more. Elliotte Friedman added in writing that left foot and ankle issues are threatening his career.
I’m hearing the @CanadiensMTL won’t protect Shea Weber for the expansion draft. Following the latest medical evaluations, he could miss all of next season. If not more.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) July 14, 2021
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 14, 2021
Analysis: According to Friedman, Weber has sustained multiple tears in his ankle over the last few seasons, and he returned much faster than expected to a foot injury in February. All of that abuse seems to be taking a toll and is jeopardizing his career. If the injury is that serious, there is very little chance he plays next year. It’s unclear whether time off can help Weber recover to the point where he can play again.
Montreal losing Weber to a potentially career-ending injury is a horrible blow. Weber is their captain, top defenceman, and was tied with Ben Chiarot as playing the most minutes on average for the Canadiens in the playoffs. His absence will be hard to replace, but if the Canadiens put him on LTIR, that gives them $7.857 million to work with to get another top-pair defenceman. Maybe Dougie Hamilton. There certainly won’t be a shortage of NHL rumours when it comes to Weber’s replacement.
The positive out of this is Montreal’s expansion list. According to Lavoie, Montreal won’t protect Weber because Seattle won’t touch him with this news. This allows the Canadiens to protect three of their big four on defence: Chiarot, Jeff Petry, and Joel Edmundson.
Rumour: According to Pierre Lebrun of TSN and the Athletic, The Kraken are asking for “Exorbitant” prices for teams trying to make side deals in the expansion draft.
In chatting with front offices around the league the last 24-48 hours, one word to sum up what the Kraken are still asking for as payment in side deals to navigate the expansion draft: “Exorbitant.”
But I mean, there’s still time before Saturday’s protection list deadline…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 14, 2021
Analysis: There are two sides to look at this, from Seattle’s side and the opposing team’s side. For Seattle, asking high prices for side deals makes sense. They’re entering a sweet spot where teams are starting to feel pressure but not close enough to the draft where Seattle is worried themselves about not getting a side deal they want because of their high prices. The game of chicken has begun. It is also highly likely that the Kraken admire certain players other teams are trying to protect with a deal, so the Kraken won’t pass on taking this player without a considerable package in return.
Here are some likely options of teams trying to make a side deal. The St. Louis Blues should look into if they can protect Vince Dunn. The Tampa Bay Lightning might also look to protect one or all of Yanni Gourde, Ondrej Palat, or Alex Killorn through a side deal. The Winnipeg Jets are also in a delicate situation with having to expose either Dylan DeMelo or Logan Stanley if they protect three defencemen. Those teams will have to decide if the price is worth the reward of keeping a certain player. Remember, they will lose an asset regardless. The high prices might have been a reason why the Minnesota Wild bought out Ryan Suter and Zach Parise because they now can protect Matt Dumba and Nico Sturm without losing a quality player or draft pick assets.
New York Islanders
Rumour: According to Arthur Staple of The Athletic, the Islanders are shopping Nick Leddy.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) July 13, 2021
Analysis: Instead of going the route of trying to make a side deal work with Seattle, the Islanders are trying to move Leddy before the expansion draft, so don’t they lose him for nothing. According to Staple’s report, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has had Leddy on the trade block since Lamoriello joined the Islanders. Therefore, it is unlikely they tried to make a side deal to keep him. The Islanders are doing their due diligence to see if they can get an asset for a player they want to move on from.
If Vince Dunn is on the market, other teams are probably trying to go after him first. He’s six years younger than Leddy and a better left-shot defenceman. The best landing spot might be the New Jersey Devils, who see Leddy often as division rivals. Last Word on Hockey writer Alex Metzger had Ryan Murray being exposed as the Devils’ third defencemen, but he’s an unrestricted free agent. Therefore, grabbing Leddy won’t hurt the Devils’ list.
Leddy’s old team, the Chicago Blackhawks, may also take a run at him. Their third-best defenceman to protect, Calvin de Haan, scored 20 fewer points than Leddy last season. Leddy’s base salary is $7 million but his cap hit is $5.5 million, which will scare off some teams. Let the NHL rumours of Leddy’s landing spot begin!
Rumour: According to Scott Powers of the Athletic, the Blackhawks are interested in trading for Marc-Andre Fleury.
Duncan Keith trade was best for him and the Blackhawks https://t.co/tnWVRXRHgi
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 12, 2021
Analysis: Sticking with Chicago, it appears they have interest in goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas likely moves on from one of their goalies because the cap-strapped team can’t afford both at a combined $12 million. Vegas signed Lehner to a five-year deal last season, making Fleury more expendable. NHL rumours have been speculating since last season of a Fleury trade.
The Blackhawks acquiring Fleury would be a great move for them. Kevin Lankinen performed well in net for Chicago in his first season in the league, but he’s a lower-tiered starting goalie. On the other side, Fleury won the Vezina Trophy this season as the league’s top goaltender. Chances are he won’t do that again, but Fleury is consistently a top goaltender with no signs of slowing down. With one year left on his deal at $7 million, the Blackhawks can afford the cap hit without any long-term risk. Fleury also can mentor the young Lankinen. The Blackhawks are looking to jump back into the playoff picture quickly. Fleury’s solid goaltending will certainly help them.