Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 17, 2017
Latest on the Senators, Jets and more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM HNIC’s SATURDAY HEADLINES
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos speculates if (“and I use the word if”) the Ottawa Senators decide to shed some payroll, the easiest way to do so would be to trade winger Mike Hoffman. “Some have suggested to me that the Ottawa Senators and the Edmonton Oilers have had conversations on Hoffman,” he said. But with the Oilers striving to get back into the playoff chase, Kypreos believes they might prefer a deal build around top draft picks and prospects so as not to upset the current roster.
Moving a player like Hoffman wouldn’t require the Senators taking back salary, unlike if they attempted to move players carrying more expensive contracts, such as winger Bobby Ryan or defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Hoffman is signed through 2019-20 with an annual salary-cap hit of over $5.187 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell last week suggested Hoffman could be a good fit for the Oilers as a shooter on Connor McDavid’s line. However, he’s not sure if the two clubs are a fit trade-wise, suggesting the Sens could want a return that improves their blueline. Hoffman also has a 10-team no-trade list and it’s possible the Oilers could be on it.
Chris Johnston reports Senators management have looked at short-term deals but so far haven’t found anything. They’ll likely be sellers if they’re out of the playoff chase by the Feb. 26 trade deadline and could consider major changes in the offseason if they miss the playoffs.
If the Senators make a major roster shakeup, Elliotte Friedman doubts winger Mark Stone won’t be part of it. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, however, could attract interest from clubs seeking depth at center. If they do make significant moves they’ll want young players, draft picks and prospects in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading the 25-year-old Stone, a restricted free agent next summer, would be an extreme move. However, if the Sens go into cost-cutting mode he could become a trade candidate if he seeks a significant raise over his current $3.5 million cap hit. Still, I think they’d move out Hoffman before Stone.
Friedman also reports the Winnipeg Jets has made it known center Shawn Matthias is available via trade. Matthias has just two assists in 18 games. Since Nov. 14, he’s been a frequent healthy scratch.
SENATORS, PENGUINS, SABRES COULD BE ACTIVE BEFORE HOLIDAY FREEZE
The Sens, of course, dominated the rumor mill over the last week, especially when it was reported that management requested 10-team no-trade lists from their players carrying no-trade clauses. Forwards Derick Brassard and Mike Hoffman have been mentioned as possible trade chips. Defenseman Fredrik Claesson and backup Mike Condon could also be tradeable assets.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford recently suggested a major trade might be necessary if his club didn’t soon snap out of its current funk. They’re still in need of a proven third-line center and defenseman Ian Cole is believed to be a trade candidate.
The Sabres, meanwhile, are once again at the bottom of the standings and are featuring prominently in the rumor mill. UFA winger Evander Kane could attract attention from clubs seeking a scoring winger. Word is everyone except Jack Eichel could be on the table.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While anything’s possible, significant trades rarely take place before the holiday trade freeze. Of the three clubs, the Senators seem to be working the phones the most. Talk of the Penguins shopping Cole seems to have cooled over the past couple of weeks.
As for the Sabres, I daresay they’ll wait until mid-January at the earliest before making any significant moves. Being mired at the bottom of the standings, they’re under less pressure than the Senators and Penguins to make moves right now.
UPDATES ON THE CANADIENS, FLAMES AND CANUCKS
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols compiled a roundup of trade tidbits from TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun from their respective radio appearances on Friday.
Appearing on Montreal’s TSN 690, McKenzie was asked about the trade value of Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. He expects Plekanec will have some trade value as a rental player if the Habs are out of playoff contention by the deadline, suggesting he could fetch a second- or third-round pick.
LeBrun, appearing on Vancouver’s TSN 1040, doesn’t believe Sabres left wing Evander Kane would be a good fit with the Calgary Flames because they’re fairly good at left wing. However, he acknowledged they need top-six help elsewhere.
The Senators could be dangling some forwards and LeBrun wonders if the Flames and Vancouver Canucks might be interested. With forwards Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi sidelined by injury, LeBrun said they’re making calls but he doesn’t know if there’s a fit right now, especially giving Canucks GM Jim Benning’s unwillingness to trade futures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman could be a better fit for the Flames. He can play either wing and they’re thin on the right side. However, the Flames currently have over $3.9 million in cap space. If they want to acquire him soon, they’ll have to free up room to absorb his $5.18 million cap hit. I think the Canucks are looking more for affordable short-term additions until Horvat and Baertschi return. If so, I don’t think the Sens are a good fit for them.