NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2018
Latest Rangers speculation plus updates on the Canucks, Senators and Blue Jackets in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Rick Nash has included the Toronto Maple Leafs on his 12-team list of preferred trade destinations, though the Leafs are a long shot to land the New York Rangers winger. It’s unclear if any other Canadian clubs are on Nash’s list. The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars are believed the front-runners for his services.
Seravalli suggests one reason why Nash might not be a fit in Toronto is the Leafs already carry three “rental” players in James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov. “Winnipeg, Boston, San Jose and Tampa Bay have all reportedly expressed interest.”
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika notes acquiring Nash, who carries a $7.8-million cap hit, would be a tight fit for the Stars, who carry $74.1-million in payroll this season. “The specific amount the Stars can spend is prorated based on how much of the season remains with an exemption for money paid during the season to players on long-term injured reserve,” writes Heika, who notes Nash has just 17 goals and 27 points this season.
Heika also points out the Rangers will seek a hefty return, which could include a first-round pick. The Stars are hosting the 2018 NHL Draft and could be unwilling to part with that selection. He thinks the Stars could more closely study Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman or Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, who are younger and signed beyond this season. If they go the rental route, Heika suggests Nash’s teammate Michael Grabner would be a more affordable option in both salary ($1.65 million) and return.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh has drawn “keen interest” from Tampa Bay and Boston, but the two clubs have yet to make an offer that would convince the Blueshirts to part with their captain. They’re not feeling any urgency to move McDonagh by the Feb. 26 trade deadline, as he’s under contract through next season. The Rangers are also gauging offers for pending free agents Nick Holden and David Desharnais, while winger Mats Zuccarello is also attracting some attention.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple suggests the New York Islanders should include McDonagh among their trade targets. He suspects, however, the Rangers would want the Islanders’ first-round pick in 2018 as that one could be a lottery selection. Staple considers that move unlikely. He also lists Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Detroit’s Petr Mrazek, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the Rangers’ Michael Grabner and Toronto’s Matt Martin as other trade options that could address the Islanders’ needs.
WINNIPEG SUN: If the Jets decide to add a forward at the trade deadline, Ken Wiebe suggests Zuccarello or Grabner as options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could be the biggest sellers leading up to this year’s trade deadline, so expect them to dominate the rumor mill in the coming days. I think the Leafs’ biggest need is improving their defense corps so I don’t see Nash being a fit there. If the Rangers insist on a first-round pick as part of the return for Nash, the Stars could consider more affordable options.
No surprise the Blueshirts management isn’t feeling pressured to move McDonagh at the deadline. If they don’t find a suitable offer by then, they’re bound to get one during the offseason, perhaps during the draft weekend in late-June. I don’t doubt there’s interest in McDonagh but teams could be reluctant to overpay right now.
I’ll be shocked if the Islanders can pry McDonagh away from the Rangers. The only way I see that happening is if a third team gets involved. Grabner and Zuccarello could be attractive alternatives for clubs unwilling to pay the big asking price for Nash.
CANUCKS, SENATORS AND BLUE JACKETS
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports there’s “a wavering level of interest” in Vancouver Canucks left wing Thomas Vanek. He feels the 34-year-old could provide depth for Cup contenders such as the Nashville Predator and Boston Bruins or perhaps help a team like the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets reach the playoffs. Though younger options such as Buffalo’s Evander Kane, Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon, the Rangers’ Michael Grabner and Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman are in the rumor mill, Vanek leads them with 38 points.
THE ATHLETIC: If the Vancouver Canucks decide to part ways with Erik Gudbranson, Jason Brough suggests they contact the Toronto Maple Leafs about winger Matt Martin to bolster their toughness.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Canucks will find a buyer for Vanek, though they probably won’t get much in return. It’s also possible he could return to Vancouver as a free agent, though that’s not a certainty.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Ottawa Senators seek “a first-round pick, a top prospect and a third piece” for Derick Brassard. The 30-year-old center is signed through 2018-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be impressed with Senators GM Pierre Dorion if he can get that type of return for Brassard at the trade deadline. Given the center’s contract status, Dorion can afford to wait until the offseason for the right deal.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the return of sidelined defenseman Ryan Murray could grease the skids for the Columbus Blue Jackets to honor blueliner Jack Johnson’s trade request. “Toronto, Los Angeles and Anaheim are all said to be in the market for a defenseman,” write Portzline. He also suggests swapping UFAs with another club (“Toronto?”) that has too many forwards. There’s talk Johnson could fetch the Jackets a late first-round draft pick, but that return won’t help the Jackets clinch a playoff berth this season.