Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 12, 2017
Updates on Jason Spezza and Evander Kane plus latest on the Penguins, Avalanche & more in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports hearing Dallas Stars forward Jason Spezza’s name floated as a possible trade chip. The 34-year-old didn’t get his first goal of this season until Friday’s 5-0 win over the New York Islanders and had been moved from center to the wing. However, he notes Spezza has a no-movement clause during the season and carries a $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2018-19. “Just also in researching it, I think Dallas realizes you need offence to win in this league and Jason Spezza can still provide offence,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza’s age, offensive struggles this season, no-movement clause and hefty salary-cap hit makes him very difficult to move via trade this season. His trade value will improve if he regains his scoring touch, but if that happens there’s no reason for the Stars to move him this season.
Nick Kypreos reports free-agent right wing Jarome Iginla has given up on playing in the NHL this season. He said Iginla could be hoping for an opportunity to skate with a team on a professional tryout offer by late-November.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I hate to say this, because Iginla is one of my favorite players, but I’ll be very surprised if an NHL team signs him. Most hockey fans would probably love to see Iginla return for one more season and one last shot at the Stanley Cup. However, I just don’t think that’s going to happen. His play noticeably declined over the previous two seasons and I don’t see him improving after missing training camp and the first two months of the regular season.
Kypreos also reports the Pittsburgh Penguins could be looking for an NHL-experienced backup goaltender and perhaps some experienced veteran leadership and offense. Friedman adds his belief the Pens may have made a last-second pitch for center Matt Duchene before he was dealt last week to the Ottawa Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s not a lot of quality backups or veteran scorers currently available to the Penguins. For now, however, they’ll likely have to suck it up and endure until the Feb. 26 trade deadline, when the market should improve. Their early-season acquisition of Riley Sheahan hasn’t panned out yet, as he has only one point in 10 games with the Pens thus far.
Friedman also noted Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nikita Soshnikov’s clause in his contract giving him the option to return to the KHL for the remainder of this season if he hasn’t been called up by the Leafs by Nov. 14. He notes there’s an expectation the Leafs will do something to make room for Soshnikov on the roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent word from Soshnikov’s agent is they’re not entertaining offers yet from the KHL. Still, this situation could be worth keeping an eye on in the coming days.
Chris Johnston reports former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk could try to sign with an NHL team next summer as an unrestricted free agent. Kovalchuk attempted a return last summer but efforts to find a team failed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk’s NHL rights for this season are still owned by the New Jersey Devils. They couldn’t find another team to do a sign-and-trade with them and he opted to remain in the KHL for 2017-18. Provided his contract demands aren’t ridiculous, I can see him signing with an NHL club next summer.
FANRAG SPORTS: Chris Nichols cited Bob McKenzie’s appearance Friday on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 speculating Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic could still be “somewhat open for business” in the trade market. However, there’s less urgency now in the wake of the Duchene trade and the club’s improved performance this season. He doesn’t feel they’ll be as quick to move left wing Gabe Landeskog or defenseman Tyson Barrie. McKenzie noted Landeskog never wanted out of Colorado.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Sakic’s made his big move for this season. Duchene wanted out, Landeskog and Barrie did not. If the Avs continue to improve there’s no reason to put either guy on the trade block.
Nichols also cited Darren Dreger’s Friday appearance on Buffalo’s WGR 550 discussing Evander Kane’s future with the Buffalo Sabres. While Kane’s off to a strong start to this season (16 points in 17 games), rival clubs could be reluctant to offer him a long-term contract via free agency in July.
Dreger notes Sabres management intend to remain patient with their banged-up roster, preferring to make long-term decisions over a quick fix. While there’s been no contract discussions yet between the Sabres and Kane’s representatives, Dreger thinks it’s still a possibility he could re-sign with them. He feels GM Jason Botterill has to weigh the potential return he could get for Kane with the risk of possibly losing the winger to free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still early in the season and Botterill isn’t under pressure right now to sign or trade Kane. That will ramp up, however, when the calendar flips to 2018 and the Feb 26 trade deadline approaches. A lot will depend upon Kane’s performance and whether he feels he has a future with the Sabres, as well as the club’s performance over the next three months.