NHL Rumors: Flyers, Oilers, Blues, More

In today’s rumor rundown, there is news on the Flyers plans in free agency and there are updates on the story out of New York that a trade almost happened between the Oilers and Rangers at the 2016 NHL Draft.

Flyers to Be Aggressive During and Before Free Agency

The way the season has gone for Philadelphia Flyers, they are likely to be sellers by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. It appears they’re also ready to turn the ship around in a hurry once the season comes to a close.

Chuck Fletcher
The Philadelphia Flyers hired Fletcher as their general manager on Monday in hopes that he can resuscitate one of the worst teams in the NHL. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Jim Mone, File)

In an interview with Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, team chairman Dave Scott indicated the Flyers intend to be much more aggressive in free agency and more than willing to spend to the Upper Limit to improve the roster. Scott said:

We’re going to be cap spenders. We want to build the best team possible. Chuck [Fletcher] feels good about a lot of what he inherited. He’ll do more than just draft. He has that experience. We’re going to be aggressive.

This is a different approach than former GM Ron Hextall took to building the team. Before being relieved of his duties, he had left the team with a ton of open cap space. If the team fails to sign Wayne Simmonds, they’ll have even more space available to sign players.

When asked if the Flyers might trade any other players this season and clear up more space, Bob McKenzie said on Montreal’s TSN 690:

I don’t think he’s got an agenda that says, ‘I’ve got to get Shayne Gostisbehere out of town here,’ but I think he’s also willing to listen on just about anybody… They’ve got multifaceted plans in Philadelphia in terms of ‘We could keep this guy and we could move that guy, or we could that guy and move this guy,’ and flip it around depending on what the interest is and what the prices are.

Gostisbehere is a name that’s been out there and for the right price, he could be had. His contract carries a $4.5 million cap hit for four more seasons, and after which he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Related: NHL Rumors: Brassard, Skinner, Predators, More

More Comments on the Oilers and McDonagh Rumor

Yesterday, Larry Brooks wrote an article noting his sources had confirmed the 2016 NHL Draft trades that almost saw teams like Edmonton, Columbus and others swap picks including the fourth-overall selection (which ended up being Jesse Puljujarvi) going to the Rangers for Ryan McDonagh, almost but never happened. That opened up a can of worms from other media on Monday, including Bob McKenzie who remembers what happened at that draft.

Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi
Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

McKenzie noted on hit on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 that things played out so differently at that draft because of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ decision to take Pierre-Luc Dubois with the No. 3 pick instead of Jesse Puljujarvi. McKenzie added:

And to the Larry Brooks report in The Post, it’s entirely accurate that the Oilers and Rangers were talking about a McDonagh to Edmonton for the 4th pick. But as Larry Brooks reports, they were not interested in Puljujarvi – they wanted Clayton Keller from the U.S. Under-18 program, who plays center, wing.

The second Columbus went off the board, the entire dynamics of the trade changed for Edmonton. They believed they landed on a jackpot when Puljujarvi fell to them and the trade was off the table. Had the deal taken place, the Rangers wouldn’t have taken Puljujarvi, they would have grabbed Keller.

Related: NHL Rumors: Duchene, Muzzin, Point, More

Are the Blues Buyers or Sellers?

Jim Thomas reports that St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said it remains to be determined if the Blues will be a buyer or a seller by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Much of that decision depends on how the team plays over the next couple weeks.

The team has performed better, players like Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo have turned things up a notch and because the Western Conference has been so weak, the Blues are not far outside the playoff picture.