It is trade season in the National Hockey League and that means it is also the season of the trade rumor.
This is the time of year when we hear about all sorts of rumblings around the National Hockey League, whether that be potential free agent signings, trades in the offseason, or even potential moves at the National Hockey League Entry Draft and the NHL's top insiders are always there to provide us with the latest details. That being said though it is not all that often that two well respected NHL insiders come to a head in their reporting, but that is exactly what has taken place over the course of the last week with a trade rumor linking Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to the Edmonton Oilers organization.
The rumors started on Thursday when TSN National Hockey League insider Darren Dreger dropped a big report in which he elaborated on comments he had made earlier in the week. Dreger had previously linked the Vancouver Canucks to the Maple Leafs blue liner, however this time around Dreger added that the Edmonton Oilers would also be in the mix.
"Trade discussions will heat up in the days leading up to next weeks draft," wrote Dreger. "Mentioned Vancouver’s interest in Nikita Zaitsev last week. Sounds like the Oilers have some interest as well."
Those comments from Dreger however have now been refuted by another National Hockey League insider, and insider that specifically mentioned Dreger's reports while making comments of his own. Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman was a guest on Oilers Now when he all but shut down Dreger's report, all the while trying to spare the rival insider from getting too much heat.
"I had some people tell me that that one is not as likely I could be wrong," said Friedman as per the Edmonton Journal. "I have no interest in taking any shots at Darren Dreger. He’s a good reporter. A very good reporter. But I’ve had people tell me not to go down that path."
It seems however that Toronto Maple Leafs insider James Mirtle has sided with Dreger on this one however as he listed the Oilers as the #1 potential destination for Zaitsev this summer when ranking potential trade destinations.
"There were discussions on a Connor Brown to Edmonton deal during the season, with the rumour being that Matt Benning would be coming the other way," wrote Mirtle in The Athletic. "A Brown plus Zaitsev combination for Benning makes some sense on a number of levels, as it clears considerable cap space for the Leafs ($4.7-million) while giving them an option that will still be able to contribute on either the second or third pair at RD."
"The other option I could see here is better players being involved. What if instead of Brown, the Leafs included Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson in talks? Could that increase the return to someone like Adam Larsson, who would fit wonderfully alongside Morgan Rielly or Jake Muzzin in a top-four role in Toronto?"