NHL Rumors: Oilers, Sharks, Kings, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is buzz out there about a trade that might include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Rasmus Ristolainen, there is a concern in San Jose about the goaltending and the Los Angeles Kings keep making puzzling decisions when it comes to Ilya Kovalchuk.

Oilers and Sabres Trade Partners?

Among the list of things the Oilers need to tackle this offseason: prioritize skill and speed at the forward position, transition the blueliners into more offensively-minded puck movers, target a good goaltender as a backup and over-percolate prospects in the AHL. To solve the transitioning of the blue line into puck movers, some speculation is the team might have to move a player like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to get the kind of top-end d-man they are after.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was one of many Oilers’ first overall picks. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

A few media-types closer to the team are suggesting a player like Rasmus Ristolainen be a target of the Oilers. Jim Matheson wrote on Twitter, “Trading Nuge? … You trade a C for a top pairing D which is why an RNH for Buffalo’s Ristolainen scenario is out there.” Joe Dibiase of WGR 550 wrote about the optics of a trade like this and called it an interesting trade candidate this offseason for Buffalo but not a slam dunk.

Related: NHL Rumors: Tippet, Sabres Pressure, Oilers Salary Issues

San Jose Will Not Make a Goalie Change

One of the issues for the San Jose Sharks this season has been keeping the puck out of their own net. Question marks surround the goaltending and many are wondering if the Sharks can make a run in the postseason with such uncertainty at that position.

San Jose Sharks Martin Jones
San Jose Sharks Martin Jones (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

That said, don’t look for the Sharks to make changes to their netminding duo. Peter DeBoer told reporters, including Paul Gackle of the Mercury News, that they had no interest in moving one of their two goalies.  The Sharks are going to support backup Aaron Dell who has been a strong backup before and hope that the tandem of Jones and Dell can go on a run.

Related: NHL Rumors: Senators, Oilers, Maple Leafs, More

Kovalchuk Relationship With Kings Getting Stranger

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times wrote that she believes the Kings’ decision to leave Ilya Kovalchuk back in LA during their current three-game road trip is another sign that things are not going well between the two sides. She called the decision puzzling.

Los Angeles Kings Ilya Kovalchuk and Vegas Golden Knights Deryk Engelland
Los Angeles Kings Ilya Kovalchuk and Vegas Golden Knights Deryk Engelland (AP Photo/John Locher)

After complaining about being a healthy scratch and his reduced role until under interim coach Willie Desjardins, one has to wonder if this is a punishment of sorts for speaking out or if this is Kovalchuk saying, ‘if you’re not going to play me, I’m not coming on the road’. If so, why allow that?

Elliott wonders how many free agents will line up to play in Los Angeles after they’ve witnessed how Kovalchuk has been treated by the organization. It doesn’t help that there are questions as to whom the coach will be moving forward, how far away from contending for a playoff spot the team will actually be next season and what their plans are to try and move a player who is unhappy but has a no-move clause as part of his contract. The Kings don’t exactly have a ton of cap room to work with to make changes next season.