NHL Rumors: Sharks, Rangers, Blue Jackets, Oilers

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the San Jose Sharks are willing to trade Ryan Merkely after the player requested a trade. Meanwhile, there is talk the New York Rangers might be open to moving Alexis Lafreniere, but that’s not entirely accurate.

Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.

The Hockey Writers HockeyPedia 800x120

Are the Columbus Blue Jackets ready to start moving players? Finally, are the Edmonton Oilers a team that might be interested in someone out of Columbus?

Sharks Make Merkley Available

As per Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, “Sources say the San Jose Sharks have made 2018 first-round pick D Ryan Merkley available. Merkley recently requested a trade and Sharks are trying to accommodate. Merkley, 22, has played 39 NHL games and still has waiver eligibility.”

Latest News & Highlights

A number of fans on the Twitter thread to Seravalli’s post suggest this is not a surprise as Merkley might have attitude issues and can be a liability defensively. He played 39 games for the Sharks last year, but has spent this entire season with the Barracuda. He hasn’t been getting ice time there either and many believe he’s in the dog house with AHL coach John McCarthy.

Rangers Aren’t Necessarily Trading Alexis Lafreniere

Elliotte Friedman noted during this 32 Thoughts podcast that just because Alexis Lafreniere was a healthy scratch does not mean that he’s going to be traded or that the New York Rangers have put Lafreniere on the market. Friedman says he’s covered a lot of Gerard Gallant and noted that this is often the way he handles players that aren’t giving him everything he wants to see. “He will set players out who he doesn’t think are competitive enough on a game-in, game-out basis.”

Alexis Lafreniere New York Rangers
Alexis Lafreniere, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Friedman also says the Rangers are not looking to make big roster changes but they do want to get more out of their players who do well in the regular season but have underperformed in the playoffs. Friedman did say that the one thing to watch would be what Lafreniere thinks about his place on the Rangers’ roster and if he might want to move. There is no indication yet that the player is there.

Blue Jackets Likely to Start Making Trades

Brian Hedger of The Columbus Dispatch reports that Gustav Nyquist isn’t likely to finish the season with the Blue Jackets. As a pending UFA, he should draw interest from other teams and the Blue Jackets will trade the veteran forward at the trade deadline.

Gustav Nyquist Columbus Blue Jackets
Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Hedger writes, “Given his consistent two-way style and added penalty-killing skill, there’s a possibility he could fetch multiple picks in lower rounds or even a late first-round pick from a contender looking to bolster its depth up front.” He adds that Nyquist isn’t looking to go anywhere as he loves the area, but he understands the business. Hedger adds:

Nyquist and his family love the area, so there’s a desire to stay. The difference is the lack of a new contract plus the possibility that Nyquist could be moved for a valuable trade package and then courted as a free agent in July, something he’d be open to exploring. 

source – ‘Uncertain of future with Columbus Blue Jackets, Gustav Nyquist continues leadership role’- Brian Hedger – Columbus Dispatch – 01/02/2023

Gavrikov Too Costly For the Oilers?

Another player who could be on the move out of Columbus is defenseman Vladislav Gavirkov. He’ll fetch plenty of interest and while the Blue Jackets would like to re-sign him, the consensus seems to be that he’ll be moved. Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal thinks the Oilers will show interest in the player as a rental, but that a new contract extension would be difficult for Edmonton to afford.

Matheson writes:

But once he hits the open market, he might be looking for a number that starts with 5. He might be reaching there because Ben Chiarot got $4.75-million as cap hit when he signed as a free agent in Detroit last summer. Anything over $5-million a year is probably too rich for the Oilers if they want to sign him unless they move a defenceman, but the Oilers are in it to win now, right?

source – ‘Vladislav Gavrikov has huge leverage on a new deal’ – Jim Matheson – Edmonton Journal – 01/02/2023

Matheson also notes that the Oilers would have to move out salary to make the trade and that could require sending a sweetener to a team to take on money.