NHL Rumors: Schneider, Skinner, More

In today’s rumor rundown, the New Jersey Devils don’t have a timetable for Cory Schneider’s return, the Panthers seem happy with their offense, the Flyers like one of their prospects in particular and Carolina hints that they had little choice but to trade Jeff Skinner.

Schneider Return Date Remains Murky

According to Corey Masisak of The Athletic, New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider isn’t going to be rushed back after undergoing hip surgery this offseason and the club does not have a timetable set for his return. Masisak writes:

A midseason injury derailed a fantastic start, but he put together a few vintage performances against the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Devils obviously aren’t going to rush him back, and general manager Ray Shero has pointed to Pekka Rinne’s post-surgery success on multiple occasions.

source – “Handicapping the Devils’ position battles, part II: Defensemen and goalies” – Corey Masisak – The Athletic – 08/03/2018

New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider
New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

Schneider is coming off the worst season of his NHL career with a 2.93 GAA and a .907 save percentage in 40 games. Now 32 years old, the club doesn’t want to rush him back and risk further injury. The plan is to give him all the time he needs.

It likely helps the team feels they have two serviceable backups in Keith Kinkaid and Eddie Lack.

Related: NHL Rumors: Skinner, Panarin, Stone, More

Flyers Like Their Prospects

You won’t hear too many teams say they don’t like their prospects, but Bill Meltzer of NHL.com writes the Philadelphia Flyers walked away with a good feeling about their future talents after the World Junior Summer Showcase. They were specifically pleased with the progress of their 2018 first-round pick Jay O’Brien.

O’Brien is only 18 years old and hasn’t played much against competition his own age. In the game against Canada, he was named Player of the Game for Team USA and scored two goals while playing strong defense. NHL Draft and prospects analyst for ESPN, Chris Peters said, “Lastly, I really liked Jay O’Brien (PHI) here today. All three Flyers prospects on Team USA were excellent, I thought. O’Brien can fly up and down the ice and he got to show off his shot today, too. Still think there’s a lot of refining to do, but he’s got a solid skill base.”

Skinner Trade “Had To Be Done”

Most insiders knew changes to the Carolina Hurricanes organization were coming when Tom Dundon took ownership. The trade of Jeff Skinner was high on the list of expected trades and it was completed this past week when the Hurricanes sent Skinner to the Buffalo Sabres for prospect Cliff Pu and a couple later-round draft picks.  According to Chip Alexander and Luke DeCock of the News & Observer, the Skinner trade wasn’t just something the team felt it wanted to do, but had to.

The report reads that Dundon said Friday, “It had to be done. The consensus in the organization, and it has been for a while, was it was better for all parties. It’s good for him, too.”

Jeff Skinner Hurricanes
Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes, Mar. 1, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There was no reason given as to why the organization felt that a trade was necessary or if there was behind-the-scenes friction but it might explain why the Hurricanes were willing to take what looks like a loss in the trade. Skinner is only 26 years old and has scored 204 goals for Carolina over the course of eight seasons. He was easily one of their best offensive weapons and the team didn’t get a single offensive asset in return that could help them this coming NHL season.

Considering the asking price was rumored to be high on Skinner, insiders were quite surprised at the actual return.

Related: NHL Rumors: Faulk, Moore, Hall, More

Panthers Happy With Offense

Based upon a report by Jameson Olive of NHL.com, Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon says he’s thrilled with the team’s success upgrading its offense this offseason. Tallon cites the Panthers adding winger Mike Hoffman for a 2019 second-rounder as well as 2018 fourth and fifth-round picks.

Suggesting a team might normally pay a lot more for a 22-goal scorer, Tallon said, “You have to pay a lot for that type of player in free agency; you have to trade some of your rosters players to get a talent like that… It worked in our favor.” It is expected Tallon is referring to the drama that unfolded in Ottawa that made it necessary for the Senators to move Hoffman.

Mike Hoffman #68, Ottawa Senators
Mike Hoffman #68, Ottawa Senators – February 3, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tallon added:

“It doesn’t happen very often, where certain teams have to unload cap and have to make deals that maybe they’re not really willing to do at the time. For us, it was the right choice. It was the right move. We did pay. I’m not one to give up draft picks that readily. I really appreciate the value of a good pick. It’s not like we gave up nothing. We gave up some future picks, but we also felt it was necessary to add that depth to our team, especially when it’s the type of player that Hoffman is.”

There were earlier suggestions the Panthers were still looking at free agents on the market with the intention of upgrading their roster. This may be the first sign that perhaps the Panthers haven’t found the right fit and will go into the season with the roster players they have.

Remaining Free Agents

Sportsnet’s Luke Fox recently updated his list of the NHL’s top-10 remaining unrestricted free agents. On it are names like Rick Nash, defensemen Luca Sbisa, Alexei Emelin and Tobias Enstrom, forwards Mark Letestu, Mike Cammalleri, Benoit Pouliot, Nick Shore, and Scott Hartnell and goaltender Kari Lehtonen.

Most will either be looking at tryouts for NHL clubs this summer while many will contemplate retirement. Nash may be the only player who if he decides to return would have teams bidding for his services.