NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2019
The latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Ilya Kovalchuk plus updates on the Sabres and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON GAUDREAU
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said he’d be astonished if the Calgary Flames traded Johnny Gaudreau at this time. There is concern over how the 26-year-old winger is playing this season, but no desire to make a rash move. Friedman believes Flames general manager Brad Treliving will try to breathe some life into his struggling club. It won’t be easy because of their limited salary-cap space.
With players such as Mark Jankowski struggling, Treliving would be selling low. Veteran winger Michael Frolik’s been available for a while. Defenseman Oliver Kylington could be an interesting trade possibility. Friedman doubts head coach Bill Peters’ job is in jeopardy.
THE ATHLETIC: Darren Haynes wonders if it is time for the Flames to consider trading Gaudreau. He considers the pros and cons of such a move. While trading Gaudreau could be difficult to pull off right now, Haynes thinks it’s at least worth exploring.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi believes the Flyers should make a pitch for Gaudreau if he’s available. He believes winger, who has roots in South Jersey, would be a good fit, providing their core with some much-needed speed and scoring.
Carchidi considers Gaudreau’s contract ($6.75 million annually through 2021-22) as manageable. It would cost a lot to acquire him but he’d be worth parting with some high draft picks. Carchidi also suggested including Jakob Voracek or James van Riemsdyk in the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Flames can get a player of equal or greater value, shopping Gaudreau would be a huge overreaction. Maybe he and his teammates are suffering from some complacency after last season’s strong regular-season play. Perhaps he’s nursing an undisclosed injury that’s affecting his performance. Maybe he’s distracted by a personal matter.
Gaudreau’s coming off a career-high 99-point performance last season. Yes, his production is down but he’s tied with Sean Monahan for second among Flames scorers. He’s also not the only Flame having trouble finding the back of the net this season.
Unless Gaudreau’s unhappy playing in Calgary, I don’t believe he should be shopped or made the whipping boy for the Flames’ underwhelming team play this season.
UPDATE ON THE SABRES AND WILD
SPORTSNET: Friedman also reported the Buffalo Sabres are facing a roster crunch as they’re sitting NHL-caliber defensemen like Colin Miller and Marco Scandella. Sidelined blueliner Zach Bogosian is also close to returning, which will have salary-cap implications. GM Jason Botterill is in the market for a forward. Friedman considers it difficult for Botterill to get a good deal when other teams see their situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill is probably shopping one of his defensemen in hopes of landing a forward who can bolster their struggling offense. Miller seems to have fallen out of favor and could be available. Scandella will become an unrestricted free agent next summer and likely doesn’t fit into their plans. Bogosian’s injury history hurts his trade value.
Rasmus Ristolainen frequently appeared in the off-season rumor mill after requesting a trade, but he’s reportedly enjoying playing under new coach Ralph Krueger. He lacks no-trade protection and could be their best trade chip to land that scoring forward.
Friedman also reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is “doing a lot of legwork on the value of his players.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been rumored Wild forwards Kevin Fiala, Ryan Donato, and Joel Eriksson Ek are available. They probably don’t have much value in the trade market. Fiala and Eriksson Ek have shown some improvement of late, but likely not enough to entice a lot of interest.
Housekeeping note on that Ilya Kovalchuk bonus payable Dec. 15: it’s for $2.65 million. The other $2.65 million was paid Sept. 15 ($5.3 million bonus in total for the year)
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 19, 2019