NHL Rumor Roundup: Oilers have interest in Erik Karlsson trade (join the club)

Can’t get enough NHL rumors? Lyle Richardson’s Rumor Roundup column serves as a one-stop guide to the latest rumblings around the league.

Leading up to this year’s NHL trade deadline, Senators captain Erik Karlsson was frequently mentioned as a possible trade candidate. While Feb. 26 passed with the 27-year-old defenseman still in Ottawa, there’s a growing sense among observers that he could be dealt this summer.

One reason is the ongoing drama involving recent allegations of harassment levied by Karlsson’s wife against the fiancee of Mike Hoffman, who became the first to be traded out of Ottawa on Tuesday. Another is his eligibility to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

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Senators general manager Pierre Dorion intends to open contract extension talks with Karlsson on July 1. Given the recent turmoil and the club’s struggles this season, the superstar blueliner could reject that offer, leaving Dorion to consider shopping him for the best possible return.

Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal reported the Oilers have contacted the Senators about Karlsson. He considers their chances of landing him as a long shot, pointing to their salary-cap constraints. Matheson also speculates Dorion would be interested in multiple pieces for Karlsson, rather than a one-for-one player swap.

The Oilers also might not be among Karlsson’s preferred destinations, as he has a 10-team no-trade list that could exclude Edmonton.

Matheson suggests the Golden Knights as a better fit. Vegas attempted to acquire Karlsson at the trade deadline, has plenty of cap room and young assets — such as winger Alex Tuch or defenseman Shea Theodore — to tempt the Senators GM.

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Max Pacioretty the next Hab on the move?

The first domino dropped in what could be a busy trade market leading up to this weekend’s NHL Draft in Dallas. On Friday, the Canadiens traded forward Alex Galchenyuk to the Arizona Coyotes for left wing Max Domi.

Over the last two seasons, Galchenyuk was a fixture in the trade rumor mill. His departure raises questions about the future of Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty, who was also frequently mentioned as a trade candidate this season. NHL.com columnist Adam Proteau believes Pacioretty is likely to be moved.

Pacioretty, 29, is a former five-time 30-goal scorer who’s a year from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Earlier this month, it was reported contract extension discussions had started between the two sides, prompting some pundits to envision a possible “sign-and-trade” scenario.

The Canadiens desperately need a scoring center and have been linked to Ryan O’Reilly of the Sabres. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he’s hearing the Sabres are looking for a winger, suggesting Pacioretty could be among the candidates.

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Jeff Skinner trade held up by Ilya Kovalchuk?

The Hurricanes could also be among the active clubs in the trade market. Their new ownership and management appear intent on shaking up its roster.

In recent weeks, Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner has often come up in media trade conjecture. The 26-year-old becomes eligible next summer for unrestricted free-agent status. While he carries a no-movement clause, he could waive it to join a contender.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Hurricanes will be moving Skinner in the coming weeks but it could take some time. The holdup could be tied to free agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who intends to return to the NHL after spending the past five seasons playing in Russia.

LeBrun said teams interested in Skinner, such as the Kings and Sharks, could also consider signing Kovalchuk. He can officially sign with any club on July 1 but could reach an agreement in principle before then.

Kovalchuk used to be a dominating NHL scorer, but now 35 and having been out of the league for a while, there’s no certainty he’ll regain his once-impressive form. Skinner, on the other hand, is much younger and could be a better long-term fit for teams seeking scoring depth.

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