Despite some ominous comments earlier in the week, it turns out that Winnipeg Jets star Mark Scheifele did not request a trade in his exit interview with GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Schiefele had expressed concern over the direction of the team after the Jets missed the playoffs this season, which raised some eyebrows in the media and across the league. Scheifele is signed through the next two seasons, so if he was unhappy enough with the situation, he would have had to request a trade, which likely would have occurred during his exit interview this week. Instead, the situation remains status quo in Winnipeg, at least for now. If the Jets, who have a lot of money tied up in long-term contracts, cannot find a way to improve the roster within their salary cap restrictions early this offseason, Scheifele’s position could change. The 29-year-old center has the ability and the contract to draw immense interest if he does hit the trade block this summer.
- Friedman notes that another team who could be in the star trading business this offseason are the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks reportedly held preliminary trade discussions with multiple teams this season regarding Erik Karlsson, and those talks could continue over the summer. The Sharks need to first name a new general manager, for which a search is ongoing, but the expectation is that whoever the team hires will be directed to retool rather than rebuild. In order to get more competitive sooner rather than later, the Sharks need to add more high-end depth to their lineup and need more cap space to do so. Moving all or even part of Karlsson’s five remaining years at $11.5MM would help immensely and the trade return wouldn’t hurt either. However, is it realistic to expect the Sharks to find a team both willing and able to add Karlsson? Friedman suggests that Brent Burns, who has three years remaining at $8MM, might be easier to move and would still accomplish the task of redistributing a mass amount of cap space from the right side of the blue line to be used elsewhere in the lineup. The Sharks are also expected to evaluate their options with Marc-Edouard Vlasic this offseason, whose remaining four years at $7MM could prove impossible to move but could be bought out instead.
- While the Jets and the Sharks will be looking for outside-the-box ways to improve this summer, neither team appears to be in the race for KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko. Friedman lists the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and Vegas Golden Knights as the finalists for the Russian winger’s services. Kuzmenko, 26, initially drew interest from at least 20 NHL teams, but now that his KHL contract has expired as of May 1 and he has begun actual negotiations, the list has been trimmed considerably. Kuzmenko is coming off of a career year in the KHL, recording 20 goals and 53 points in 45 games for SKA St. Petersburg, plus another 14 points in 16 playoff games. While he would be brand new to the NHL and his international experience is somewhat limited as well, Kuzmenko could be an affordable impact forward right away next season.