NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2018
Latest on Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues, Charlie Coyle, Jimmy Howard and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PIETRANGELO AND THE BLUES
SPORTSNET: Noting colleague Nick Kypreos recently wondered if St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was a fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Elliotte Friedman guesses the Blues may have put Pietrangelo in discussions with the Leafs over William Nylander but they opted to retain the winger. One reason why the Leafs would’ve passed is they might be unable to re-sign Pietrangelo to a contract extension next summer. Their preference could be for a defenseman with some affordable term on his contract.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports word around the league is Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is in open-minded listening mode. He doesn’t sense Pietrangelo’s name being mentioned in trade talks but doesn’t rule out the possibility. LeBrun reminds us the Blues captain has a no-trade clause and there’s no indication he’s unhappy in St. Louis. Still, all bets are off regarding the Blues core players as Armstrong considers possible roster shake-up options.
LeBrun’s colleague Jeremy Rutherford dismissed a rumor attributed to him claiming the Blues had informed teams that all players were available, including Vladimir Taranseko. “Armstrong is listening to anything. To my knowledge, the Blues have NOT called teams or informed teams that everyone is available. But some clubs are under the impression that Army would consider trading anyone, including Tarasenko.”
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights as possible destinations for Pietrangelo.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites TSN’s Darren Dreger’s Wednesday appearance on NBCSN discussing the Blues. “My sense from talking to managers around the National Hockey League is that Armstrong isn’t willing to part with any of his core, young pieces. Again, he can see the future in St. Louis in some of these young guys like Jaden Schwartz, but he is willing to consider just about anything else.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong may be listening to offers but that doesn’t mean he’s going to trade most of his best players. If he got an incredible offer for one of them he could act on it, but those type of deals are rare during the season. If he’s going to move a guy like Pietrangelo or Tarasenko, I think that happens in the offseason when teams are flush with extra salary-cap dollars and more willing to spend.
Pietrangelo, who remains sidelined with a hand injury, would attract considerable interest around the league if the Blues are willing to move him. That, however, depends upon his willingness to waive his no-trade clause, something he might not be keen to do. He’s also carrying a $6.5-million annual salary-cap hit through 2019-20, which won’t be easy to move during the season. The Blues would likely have to take back a contract or two as part of the return.
LATEST COYLE SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle brushed off ongoing rumors linking him to the Montreal Canadiens. “I’ve been [getting traded] to Montreal since five years ago. So it really means nothing,” said Coyle. Friedman cites Coyle’s versatility, fitness, and work ethic among the factors that could make him an attractive trade chip. While he won’t score a lot of goals, the Wild resisted moving him because they know his value. They told interested teams last summer they wanted to package Coyle with a contract they wanted to move, making it difficult to move him.
Friedman notes the Boston Bruins have been linked to Coyle. He also wonders if the Bruins might consider LA Kings forward Jeff Carter.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun cites a recent report from colleague Michael Russo claiming the Wild were listening to offers for Coyle, listing the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins as potential suitors. He doesn’t think there’s much there with the Canadiens and Senators but believes the Bruins may have “kicked tires” on Coyle.
During a subsequent appearance on Montreal’s TSN Radio 690, LeBrun reports the Wild may be talking to teams about Coyle but it doesn’t mean they’re going to move him. He feels the Canadiens are no longer involved.
NBC SPORTS: Joe Haggerty feels Coyle could make a lot of sense for the Bruins if the price is right but thinks there will be bigger and better options available to the Bruins at the trade deadline. He believes the Bruins need a scoring winger on David Krejci’s line once he returns to the second line when sidelined center Patrice Bergeron returns to action. Coyle doesn’t fit that role at this point in his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Paul Fenton may be willing to discuss Coyle with other clubs but it doesn’t mean he’ll find what he’s looking for. My guess is he wants a more reliable young scoring forward, or at least one with the potential to fill that role. He could still try packaging him with a contract he wants to move (Nino Niederreiter, perhaps?), which will only complicate things and ensure Coyle stays in Minnesota.
The Canadiens were linked to Coyle last season. However, the latest speculation out of Montreal suggests their focus has shifted toward an experienced top-four defenseman. As for the Bruins, Haggerty would prefer they pursue Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds.
WINGS SET HIGH PRICE FOR HOWARD
SPORTSNET: Looking at the Philadelphia Flyers’ efforts to find an upgrade between the pipes in a weak trade market for goaltenders, Elliotte Friedman reports the Detroit Red Wings have made it clear they want a first-round pick in return for goaltender Jimmy Howard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Wings are serious about moving Howard. He’s played a big role in their overcoming a lousy start to climb back into playoff contention this season and could earn himself a short-term contract extension.
If they do trade him they might not get a first-round pick for him. However, a Wings fan reminded me that Detroit GM Ken Holland managed to get three draft picks, including a first rounder, from the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar last season. So perhaps a first for Howard isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings would consider trading their starting goaltenders as they look to the future. While Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and Kings netminder Jonathan Quick have had injury questions they could be big improvements in goal for a number of teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford has a no-movement clause but that ensures he can’t be demoted. He carries a 10-team trade list and an annual cap hit of $6.5 million through 2019-20. Quick lacks no-trade protection but he carries a $5.8-million annual cap hit through 2022-23, which could be almost as effective as a no-trade clause. Don’t see either guy going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
The Kings have field inquiries from teams seeking help on defense. Friedman said a rumor linking Jake Muzzin to the Tampa Bay Lightning was debunked. He suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins (among others) could check out Muzzin or currently sidelined Alec Martinez.
Friedman doubts the Edmonton Oilers will move center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers are playing well of late and Nugent-Hopkins has “quietly turned into a really good player.” If Leon Draisaitl is going to remain on Connor McDavid’s line, they need Nugent-Hopkins production behind them.
The Bruins have been linked to New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes. He could also be a good fit with the Colorado Avalanche.
If the Buffalo Sabres make a move to bolster their playoff chances it won’t be for a rental player. “Maybe for a younger player under team control for a while, but not for a rental.”