There are many factors that have contributed to Darcy Kuemper being one of the most talked-about names on the rumor mill over the last couple of months. The first and most important is simply that the Arizona Coyotes must shed salary this off-season. The team is arguably in the worst salary cap situation of any NHL club, lacking any room to maneuver under the cap ceiling but with several restricted free agents and superstar trade acquisition Taylor Hall in need of new contracts. One area where they can trim the fat is in net, where Kuemper and Antti Raanta combine for $8.75MM against the cap and Adin Hill is also signed to a one-way contract and will need to clear waivers this season. Of the three, not only does Kuemper carry the highest cap hit, he is also undoubtedly the most valuable on the trade market. The 30-year-old was one of the best goalies in the NHL this season and is signed for two more years at a bargain relative to his performance. While this is seemingly a perfect storm of reasons why Kuemper should be dealt, new GM Bill Armstrong won’t let him go that easy. AZ Sports’ Craig Morgan reports that after Armstrong was hired last week, the asking price for Kuemper went up. An offer must now surpass the value of just one first-round pick in order to pry the talented netminder out of Arizona. If they are not satisfied, the Coyotes will not trade Kuemper. Although his trade value is depleted after a pair of injury-plagued seasons, the team could get nearly as much cap savings from moving Raanta, whose contract expires after this season. While Kuemper is the morename, don’t be surprised to see Raanta move instead barring a top-notch offer.
- Patrik Laine is another one of the hot names on the rumor mill right now, with reports that the Winnipeg Jets are “serious” about moving the young scoring forward. However, Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe doused those flames somewhat by stating that the Jets’ priority is still to re-sign Laine. It would be difficult for the team to get fair value for Laine and although they have more pressing needs than winger elsewhere on the roster, they could very well be better off holding on to the 22-year-old. A restricted free agent after next season, Laine will command a substantial salary that Winnipeg may find difficult to afford. Yet, Wiebe believes that current trade talks may be overblown so long as the two sides are still amenable to an extension, believing a trade to be more likely next summer – if a deal cannot be reached – rather than pulling the trigger early this off-season. Unless the Jets get exactly what they ask for in exchange for Laine, they have time before they need to get too serious about a trade.
- The most active team on the trade market so far has been the Pittsburgh Penguins, but things may begin to slow down for GM Jim Rutherford and his club. In a radio interview on Friday, Rutherford stated that his recent acquisition of defensemen Michael Matheson is not a precursor to another major trade regarding his top defensemen. Although there is a considerable logjam on the left side of the Pittsburgh blue line, top-four lefties Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson will not be traded. Matheson is expected to play on the left side of the team’s third pair, forcing Jack Johnson and Juuso Riikola to compete for a starting job on their off-side with righty Chad Ruhwedel. Matheson’s acquisition has also squashed the Penguins’ interest in free agent defenseman Chris Tanev and others, as Rutherford added that he does not anticipate adding to his defense corps on the open market.