NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Flyers, Rangers, Oilers

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, are the Montreal Canadiens actively acquiring players that have underperformed in other cities? Meanwhile, did the Philadelphia Flyers try to move James van Riemsdyk to get into the Johnny Gaudreau conversation?

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The New York Rangers are making a plan for this year’s trade deadline and the Edmonton Oilers have some interesting arbitration news upcoming.

Canadiens Believe They Can Turn Around Careers

Apron Basu takes an interesting look at the Canadiens’ offseason strategy and seems to think the Canadiens are open to adding players from other teams that have underperformed with the expectation they can help get them on the right path. He writes in a tweet, “It’s a bit wild to see the Canadiens continue to acquire players with the belief they can get more out of them than other teams have. First it was Kirby Dach, now it’s Mike Matheson. And at the root of it all is Martin St. Louis.”

Mike Matheson Pittsburgh Penguins
Mike Matheson, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Basu adds:

Five months ago, this would have been unthinkable, the Canadiens making two trades that banked on their ability to properly develop players. But today, that is exactly what they are doing, and we saw another example in the acquisition of Matheson, even though he is 28 years old. St. Louis is a firm believer that a player can never stop learning, never stop improving, and Matheson will provide an excellent test case for that theory.

source – ‘Canadiens double down on their developmental model by trading for Mike Matheson’ – Apron Basu – The Athletic – 07/16/2022

Could this mean there are more deals like this coming for the Canadiens? Basu also noted that “Kent Hughes says the Canadiens insisted that Mike Matheson be included in the trade, that Pittsburgh did not want to include him” and that Hughes spoke at great length to Kris Letang about Matheson before making the trade.

Flyers Tried to Trade van Riemsdyk

According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli (as cited by WGR 550), the Flyers attempted to shed salary last week by shopping James van Riemsdyk. The 33-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $7 million. There’s a lot of talk that the Flyers were interested in Johnny Gaudreau but only if the move made sense from a salary cap perspective.

James van Riemsdyk Philadelphia Flyers
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Elliotte Friedman noted during this 32 Thoughts podcast that he thinks the Flyers thought about Gaudreau — he adds that Gaudreau would like be a Flyer now if Philadelphia showed more urgency to get the deal done — but the Flyers knew they were 40 points out of a playoff spot and have a lot bigger concerns than one signing of Gaudreau could fix. They didn’t believe that allocating that much cap space to one player in a year where the team needs fixing was wise. Trading van Riemsdyk would have made this feasible. Without the trade, the Flyers pulled out of Gaudreau discussions.

Rangers Big Play May Come at Trade Deadline

Larry Brooks of the New York Post believes the Rangers haven’t gone all in during this free agency period because GM Chris Drury wants to ensure he has sufficient cap space over the course of 2022-23 to get into the playoff rental market at the 2023 trade deadline.

Related: Oilers Inquired About Blockbuster Deal With Blackhawks [Report]

Even though the Rangers are projected to have just over $2 million in cap space when the season opens, Brooks projected they would have around $9 million in accrued cap room at the trade deadline in February. This would allow the team to go after a high-ticket player like Patrick Kane out of the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization, or perhaps get into the discussions to acquire J.T. Miller.

Oilers Will Lose One of Puljujarvi or Yamamoto

Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now suggests the Oilers can’t keep both Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto based on their arbitration cases and the reality that Puljujarvi has a pretty good one. Stauffer doesn’t believe the Oilers will have an issue locking up Ryan McLeod, but it may come down to choosing one of Yamamoto or Puljujarvi and that could be what is putting an emphasis on the Puljujarvi trade.

Today is the deadline for both players to file for their arbitration cases and if that doesn’t happen, that means either an extension is close or a trade is. Part of the reason a trade hasn’t happened for Puljujarvi is that teams are worried about the cost of his arbitration case and have insisted the Oilers take back cap space in any deal.