NHL Rumor Mill – February 7, 2019
Latest on Mitch Marner, Cam Fowler, Micheal Ferland plus updates on the Predators, Bruins, Wild and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PREDATORS NOT DONE DEALING?
THE TENNESSEAN: In the aftermath of the Nashville Predators acquiring checking-line forwards Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod, Joe Rexrode believes general manager David Poile isn’t done making moves before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. He speculates a core player could be packaged with picks and/or prospects “for a larger scoring piece.” While he doesn’t expect Poile is desperate he feels the Preds GM is willing to listen to a good offer. Rexrode thinks players such as Columbus’ Artemi Panarin, Ottawa’s Mark Stone or Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds could be on Poile’s radar while speculating Kevin Fiala, Craig Smith or Eeli Tolvanen could be trade bait.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Bob McKenzie appeared on NBCSN yesterday suggesting Poile could be “big-game hunting” leading up to deadline day, suggesting he could inquire into the availability of players like Panarin, Stone or Matt Duchene. He also believes Poile could be willing to part with a first-round pick and perhaps a high-end prospect like Tolvanen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile’s proven willing in recent years to swing big deals to bolster his club. With the Predators in “win now” mode, he could make a move for one of the notable forwards for the right price though he could also be willing to stick with his current roster if that deal doesn’t materialize. I can see him moving a guy like Fiala or Smith but I’m not sure he’ll sacrifice a potential future star like Tolvanen for a rental player.
MARNER’S AGENT CLARIFIES COMMENTS
TSN: Toronto Star columnist Dave Feschuk said comments made by the agent for Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner regarding his contract negotiations were referring to events from last summer. Darren Ferris’ remarks claiming the Leafs were low-balling his client came a day after the Leafs re-signed Auston Matthews and caused a stir among Leafs followers. Ferris insists progress had been made but his client still prefers waiting until after this season to resume negotiations. He added there was no animosity between the two sides.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner, meanwhile, doesn’t sound concerned about this situation. While saying he’s in no rush to re-sign, the young forward believes a deal will get done. The Leafs will re-sign Marner but it’s going to cost them a lot, perhaps as much as $11 million per season.
COULD THE CANADIENS PURSUE FOWLER?
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sean Gordon noted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin was scouting the Anaheim Ducks in their two games leading up to Tuesday’s contest between the two clubs. While Bergevin has said he’s not interested in pursuing rental players, Gordon suggests he might look at players with term on their contracts.
With the Canadiens in need of a left-side defenseman to skate alongside Shea Weber, he wondered if the Habs GM was looking at Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler, who’s in the first season of an eight-year deal worth $6.5 million annually. Gordon points out the Canadiens have depth in speedy, skilled forwards and forward prospects, which might interest the Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gordon noted he’s merely speculating here. Still, it’s an interesting suggestion. The Canadiens desperately need an experienced rearguard on Weber’s right side, they have the type of trade bait to interest the Ducks, and the Habs also have the cap space to take on Fowler’s cap hit.
The problem, however, could be the Ducks’ asking price, which could be someone like Jesperi Kotkaniemi or a prospect like Nick Suzuki or Ryan Poehling. Fowler also has a four-team no-trade list. If the Canadiens are on it and he’s unwilling to waive it, further musings of a Fowler-to-Montreal trade is pointless. (CORRECTION: It’s a four-team trade list, which significantly reduces the number of teams he can be dealt to.)
BRUINS NEED SCORING
NBC SPORTS: Justin Leger cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie saying the Boston Bruins need offense, either a second-line winger or a third-line center. “They could use another offensive weapon in their top nine,” he said. McKenzie suggested Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli could be a good fit. He also speculated GM Don Sweeney might look at bigger names like Columbus’ Artemi Panarin, Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, or Carolina’s Micheal Ferland, though Sweeney could be reluctant to spend on a rental player this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins need additional scoring punch beyond their top line or they can forget about contending for the Stanley Cup this season. Sweeney paid a lot for a rental player last year when he acquired Rick Nash but it didn’t pan out as hoped. As McKenzie suggests, the Bruins GM could look at a player like Toffoli who still has term left on his contract.
HURRICANES MIGHT KEEP FERLAND
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Carolina Hurricanes have pulled back a little on their efforts to trading pending UFA winger Micheal Ferland. Management will hold off for the next several games to see how the club performs and could keep him as an “own rental” as they push for a playoff berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes didn’t want to risk losing Ferland to free agency for nothing this summer and were also believed willing to move one of their right-shot defensemen for a scoring forward. But with the Hurricanes just three points out of a wild-card berth and winning six of their last 10, management could be reluctant to do anything that might adversely affect their recent improvement. The addition of winger Nino Niederreiter last month also provided a welcome boost to their offense.
COULD THE CANUCKS MOVE SUTTER?
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jason Brough speculates center Brandon Sutter’s tenure with the Vancouver Canucks could be drawing to a close thanks to the development of Bo Horvat, the additions of Elias Pettersson and Jay Beagle, and promising Adam Gaudette in their system. Sutter has a full no-trade clause which reverts to a partial no-trade this summer. Brough suggests perhaps Sutter would be amenable to a move now while he has full control over his destinations. If the Canucks decide to shop Sutter now, the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild could be worth calling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brough points out this is all speculation on his part. Still, if they don’t move Sutter before the deadline they certainly could be open to that possibility this summer when they’ll have more trade options.
SHOULD THE WILD START SELLING?
NBC SPORTS: With captain Mikko Koivu suffering a season-ending knee injury, James O’Brien suggests it’s time for the Minnesota Wild to become sellers. He notes they’ve been middling at best this season as they cling to a wild-card spot in the Western Conference and simply making the playoffs might not be good enough anymore.
Possible trade candidates could include pending UFA center Eric Staal or forward Charlie Coyle. O’Brien also suggests looking at the possibility of dealing Zach Parise and/or Ryan Suter, though the 34-year-olds both carry full no-movement clauses and are signed through 2024-25 with annual cap hits of $7.54 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parise and Suter aren’t going anywhere but there should be a market for Staal and Coyle if Wild GM Paul Fenton wants to start rebuilding before the trade deadline. Their play over the next couple of weeks in Koivu’s absence will determine what Fenton does.
AVS WON’T SHOP FIRST-ROUND PICKS
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers reports Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic believes his club has enough time to reverse their fortunes and climb back into a playoff spot. Still, he said he and his staff might work on a trade or two to improve their depth scoring. Sakic said he won’t part with his two first-round picks in 2019 and won’t give up prospects like defensemen Cale Makar and Connor Timmins or forwards Shane Bowers or Martin Kaut.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic does have two picks in the third round of this year’s draft and I can see him shopping his second-round pick. One or two of those might help them land a rental scorer.