NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2019
Latest on the Senators, Bruins reportedly interested in Brayden Schenn, and updates on Sergei Bobrovsky and Dougie Hamilton in today’s Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
FOCUS GROWING ON DUCHENE AND STONE
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline is looming over the Senators. General manager Pierre Dorion and his staff will soon be holding their pro scout meetings and will map out a strategy for potential deals. The Senators lack a first-round pick in this year’s draft and Garrioch believes there’s a chance they could trade for one. Contract talks with pending unrestricted free agents Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel are expected to intensify soon, with Stone and Duchene the priorities.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports talks between the Senators and Duchene appear to have cooled off, adding there haven’t been any substantive discussions in recent weeks and nothing immediately scheduled in the coming weeks. Dorion hasn’t placed a deadline on when he needs an answer from Duchene. However, the closer the trade deadline gets, he’ll be considered a potential trade candidate. So far, Johnston isn’t getting a sense of urgency on the part of the Duchene camp.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently speculated Duchene and Stone could fetch “first-round picks, high-end prospects and/or useful young roster players” if shopped by the trade deadline. He believes losing Duchene and Stone to free agency and watching the Colorado Avalanche (who now own Ottawa’s first-round pick this year) select top prospect Jack Hughes as a “nightmare scenario” for the Senators. Landing futures for Duchene and Stone could help negate part of that sting.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect to hear a lot about Duchene and Stone in the coming weeks leading up to Feb. 25. Of the two, Stone appears the keenest to re-sign, though Duchene hasn’t dismissed the possibility. I can see a scenario where Stone is re-signed and Duchene peddle for the best possible return, which would have to include a first-round pick, preferably as high as possible in the draft order.
BRUINS PURSUING BRAYDEN SCHENN?
CLNS MEDIA NETWORK: Jimmy Murphy cites two NHL source told him the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues were involved in trade discussions regarding Blues center Brayden Schenn. Despite the 27-year-old Schenn’s offensive struggles this season, his age, history, versatility and contract ($5.125-million cap hit through 2019-20) could make him worth parting with some of the Bruins prospects and even a roster player if necessary. “Think the likes of Danton Heinen or Matt Grzelcyk as far as roster players go, or maybe Peter Cehlarik in Providence.”
NBC SPORTS: Joe Haggerty weighed in on Murphy’s report, calling Schenn “an intriguing possibility” for the Bruins. He also cited several sources telling him during the Winter Classic weekend that Schenn was on the Bruins’ radar. “Could the Blues be interested in getting former captain David Backes back for a similar cap number to Schenn, or be looking to bring home Bruins center prospect and St. Louis native Trent Frederic?” Haggerty also listed the Minnesota Wild’s Charlie Coyle, Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds, and New Jersey Devils’ Miles Wood as possible trade options for the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t the first time this season Schenn has surfaced as a possible Blues trade candidate but those occasional reports were often buried by the rampant speculation over better-known teammates such as Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko. Schenn, however, seems a more likely trade candidate for all the reasons cited by Murphy.
Maybe he’ll end up with the Bruins or another playoff contender seeking forward depth by the trade deadline. I don’t see Backes as a fit for the Blues, as his best days are behind him and he’s still carrying a $6-million annual cap hit through 2020-21. If the Bruins want Schenn, it could cost them a good young forward and either a quality prospect or a decent draft pick.
LATEST ON BOBROVSKY
THE ATHLETIC: George Richards reports it appears likely the Florida Panthers will pursue a starting goaltender at the trade deadline or this summer via free agency. He believes Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky will be their No. 1 target. Bobrovsky owns a condo in Miami. He and teammate (and fellow pending UFA) Artemi Panarin are both rumored to be interested in playing in Florida going forward, either with the Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning.
Panthers current starter Roberto Luongo will turn 40 next season. With three years left on his contract, he’s given no indication he’ll retire. The Panthers have no problem with that, as Luongo could slide into the backup role if the club brings in a new starter. As for current backup James Reimer, who has two years remaining on his contract, the Panthers will have to trade him or buy him out if Luongo doesn’t retire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming the Panthers can shed Reimer’s $3.4 million annual salary-cap hit, they’ll have over $59 million invested in 13 players. That’ll be enough to go after Bobrovsky, who could seek over $10 million per season on a long-term deal. With all of their core players under contract for next season, and the salary cap projected to reach $83 million, that would still leave plenty of room to bring in Bobrovsky and fill out the remainder of the roster with affordable depth. Could be worth keeping an eye on the Panthers if Bobrovsky tests the open market in July.
COULD DOUGIE HAMILTON BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he’s curious about Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamiton. “They have four right-shot defencemen, they’ve been asked about Hamilton. If you’re willing to come back to them with a score I think that they would consider doing it,” he said. Friedman also said he’s heard the Hurricanes aren’t close to a new contract with pending UFA winger Micheal Ferland. He noted the Hurricanes don’t intend to let their UFAs depart for nothing and he believes that’s the reason why trade talks have heated up of late around Ferland.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton and Ferland were both acquired in a multi-player deal with the Calgary Flames that sent Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to the Stampede City. Trading both of those guys less than a season after acquiring them doesn’t say much about the competence of the Hurricanes’ front office, especially if they don’t get reasonable returns that provide immediate help now and in the future.