NHL General Managers On The Hot Seat as Trade Deadline Approaches
Who could the Bruins target in the trade market, and could Charlie McAvoy become trade bait? What’s the latest on the Rangers and Red Wings? Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST BRUINS TRADE BUZZ
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Los Angeles’ Alec Martinez and San Jose’s Brenden Dillon top Nick Goss’ list of five defensemen for the Bruins to pursue at the trade deadline. New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson round out his list.
Joe Haggerty suggests the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider and the LA Kings’ Tyler Toffoli among the top-six forward trade options for the Bruins. New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, Montreal’s Ilya Kovalchuk, and Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel are the other notables on Haggerty’s list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were active during the last two trade deadlines, bringing in Rick Nash in 2018 and Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson last year. They believe their Stanley Cup window remains wide open, so they’ll likely make a significant move in the coming weeks. Adding a scoring winger is their pressing need, but we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility they’ll also add a veteran blueliner.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported an NHL scout texted him saying, “Don’t be surprised if the Bruins move (Charlie) McAvoy.” While other sources say the young defenseman isn’t being shopped, there’s growing speculation McAvoy could be used by general manager Don Sweeney to make a “statement trade” to add a young scoring winger with term remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I would be surprised if the Bruins trade McAvoy, who was re-signed last summer to a cap-friendly, three-year contract. Nevertheless, if Sweeney indeed wants to make a significant move to bolster his offense, swapping the 22-year-old defenseman for a scoring forward would certainly do it. That type of move usually doesn’t take place until the off-season. We’ll find out soon enough what Sweeney has in store.
UPDATES ON THE RANGERS
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the trade buzz surrounding Alexandar Georgiev is picking up, with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche said to be interested in the Rangers’ backup goaltender. If the Blueshirts don’t improve and remain in the playoff hunt over the next several weeks, Brooks feels Georgiev and other possible playoff rentals (Chris Kreider, Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, Jesper Fast) and perhaps winger Pavel Buchnevich) could hit the trade block.
Noting the growing interest in Georgiev, Brooks suggests the Rangers strike now while the 23-year-old’s trade value is high. A bidding war for Georgiev’s services might fetch “a no-doubt top-nine winger with potential top-six upside.” He doesn’t believe veteran Henrik Lundqvist will ask to be moved or approached about waiving his no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers can get a quality return for Georgiev, they’ll move him. If not, they’ll retain him and see what his value will be in the off-season trade market. It’s expected Kreider will be moved unless the Rangers surge up the standings before the trade deadline. Not so sure about Strome, Fast, DeAngelo or Buchnevich getting shopped, but each could attract varying degrees of interest if management is willing to entertain offers.
There has been a thaw in the relationship between Rangers and Lias Andersson, Post has learned. Andersson and John Davidson have been communicating directly for about the last 10 days. Andersson has begun to skate/practice with Division II Kungälvs IK, with NYR approval.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) January 21, 2020
RED WINGS’ LIMITED TRADE OPTIONS
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman hopes to shop several pending unrestricted free agents for draft picks at the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Unfortunately, those trade candidates (Mike Green, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson, Jimmy Howard) are struggling this season and have limited trade value.
Khan thinks Green’s offensive abilities might draw some interest. Daley and Ericsson have been hurt a lot and clubs could seek better options. Howard’s performance and a thin goalie market probably make him untradeable. Asked about Valtteri Filppula and Andreas Athanasiou, Khan believes teams would want the Wings to pick up part of Filppula’s $3-million annual average salary, while Athanasiou’s struggles has sent his trade value plummeting this season.
Khan listed the Wings’ untouchables as Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Zadina and Filip Hronek on the current roster, and Moritz Seider, Joe Veleno and Michael Rasmussen in their system. He also wouldn’t give up on defenseman Dennis Cholowski.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Mark Falkner cites NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire reporting Trevor Daley requested a trade to a Stanley Cup contender. McGuire suggests the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights could be interested.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Daley’s injury history and declining performance, I don’t see him helping the Stars, Avs or Golden Knights.
PHWA midseason award winners, All-Star Game skills competition participants announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association announced their 2019-20 Midseason NHL Award winners. Among them are Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (Hart Trophy), Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (Norris Trophy), Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Vezina Trophy), and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (Calder Trophy). The PWHA also named Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander as their comeback player of the year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring serious injury or a significant decline in performance, McDavid is a lock for the Hart, Carlson for the Norris, and Makar for the Calder. Hellebuyck’s had an outstanding first half, but he’s struggled of late, which could affect his Vezina chances over the remainder of the season.
Participants for the skills competition for the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis were announced yesterday.
CALGARY SUN: The upcoming All-Star game is a family affair for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk and Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk. The brothers grew up watching their father Keith play for the St. Louis Blues in the early 2000s until his retirement in 2010.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The effects of Kendall Coyne Schofield’s participation in the skills competition at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game are examined in a new documentary.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks owner Hasso Plattner voiced his support of general manager Doug Wilson despite the club’s disappointing season. “While we are all very disappointed in the team’s performance thus far this season, Doug has a long history of leading our team to success,” said Plattner. He pointed to the club’s quick turnaround under Wilson after missing the playoffs in 2015.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Plattner’s confidence of Wilson, but I think the Sharks GM is facing the biggest challenge of his management career. He’s saddled himself with expensive veterans and doesn’t have much to draw upon in the prospect pipeline for trade bait.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs assigned defenseman Jake Muzzin to their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin’s imminent return is good news for a Leafs blueline that’s struggled in his absence.
CBS SPORTS: The Pittsburgh Penguins activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve.
TSN: Marc Methot believes his playing career has come to an end. He underwent knee surgery a year ago while with the Dallas Stars, but the knee continues giving him pain. The 13-year NHL veteran spent five seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Methot said he hasn’t made an official decision yet on his future.
Check out the latest on the Wild, Penguins, Leafs, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS STILL INTERESTED IN ZUCKER
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Pittsburgh Penguins remain interested in Jason Zucker. However, they must find a way to make his contract ($5.5 million annually for the next three seasons) work. He also has a 10-team no-trade clause. Russo believes Zucker’s hometown Vegas Golden Knights are on his “yes list.”
Russo also speculates defenseman Jonas Brodin (signed through 2020-21, $4.16-million annual average value) would be attractive to clubs seeking a top-four defenseman. Those would include Carolina, Toronto, Florida, and Vegas. The Hurricanes have serious interest, but Russo wonders if Dougie Hamilton’s recent injury could make them change course.
The Wild also possesses an attractive right-shot blueliner in Matt Dumba. His production and defensive play have declined this season. There’s a risk in trading him, as the 25-year-old could regain his form. His poor play this season could also affect his trade value.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reports the Penguins continue to pursue Zucker. However, the Wild aren’t ready to concede anything just yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wild fail to climb back into the playoff chase by mid-February, first-year general manager Bill Guerin will become a seller. He won’t just ship out guys like Zucker, Brodin or Dumba for pennies on the dollar, but if he gets a solid offer for one them, I believe he’ll pull the trigger. There are others he could shop, but those three offer the best chance for a return that helps the Wild now and over the long term.
The Penguins made a failed attempt to land Zucker last spring. What could work in the Wild’s favor this time is Guerin joined them last summer from the Penguins’ front office. He’s well aware of Pittsburgh’s best young players and prospects. You can bet a couple of those could be in the asking price.
And no, I don’t see Mikko Koivu waiving his no-movement clause. Eric Staal could be moved if a team that’s not on his 10-team no-trade list comes calling, but I think Guerin would approach Staal to get his blessing.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said there’s a sense around the league the only way the Toronto Maple Leafs move winger Kasperi Kapanen is in a big deal that makes them significantly better. He also thinks the Leafs have been asked about pending UFA defensemen Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, and Jake Muzzin.
Friedman doesn’t see the Leafs becoming sellers, so the only way something happens there is is they want to give one of their younger blueliners more permanent minutes. It also sounds like there are some contract discussions between the Leafs and Muzzin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Kapanen won’t be used as trade bait for a backup goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev. If the 23-year-old winger can fetch them a reasonably priced top-four defenseman, preferably one with term remaining on his contract, I believe GM Kyle Dubas will take that deal.
No surprise they want to keep Muzzin. He’s their best defensive blueliner. With over $68 million invested in 12 players, they have sufficient room to re-sign Muzzin, but it won’t leave much space to fill out the rest of the roster unless they shed salary.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
Nothing’s happening with the Chicago Blackhawks as long as they remain in the playoff chase. Should that change before the trade deadline, Friedman wonders if Florida Panthers head coach (and former Blackhawks bench boss) Joel Quenneville would ask to approach Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith on the virtues of playing in southeast Florida.
Speaking of the Blackhawks, goaltender Robin Lehner still wants to be paid fairly for his services. The pending unrestricted free agent wouldn’t say for sure if a long-term deal is a priority, but Friedman feels he won’t take a lesser annual average salary to get a longer-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Friedman that the Blackhawks won’t become sellers if they remain in the postseason hunt. If they do test the trade market, I still don’t see Keith or Lehner going anywhere. Keith has a full no-movement clause and there’s no hint that he wants out. Lehner, meanwhile, is out-playing long-time Hawks starter Corey Crawford. I think Chicago GM Stan Bowman intends to re-sign Lehner.
New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac wants to stay put. His agent claims something was offered to his client earlier this season, but he was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause at that time. His camp will see about the future after the season. Friedman guesses the offer came from the New York Islanders,
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.75 million. He’s spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Devils. Maybe he’ll consider a trade during the off-season if the right club come calling.