The latest on Dion Phaneuf, Mike Richards, Taylor Hall, Eric Staal, Johnny Boychuk, Cody Franson, Ryan O’Reilly and more.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports colleague Damien Cox claims the Toronto Maple Leafs have opened contract talks with pendings UFAs Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. Both could be dealt if new deals cannot be reached before the trade deadline. The Detroit Red Wings seek a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot and could have interest in Franson…Friedman believes a swap of Dion Phaneuf for Mike Richards makes sense for the Maple Leafs and LA Kings. He thinks the Kings might consider it but not the Leafs at this point. Phaneuf has a list of 12 teams he can be traded to but others could be discussed…Friedman suggests a swap of David Clarkson for Richards but doubts the Kings go for it…The New York Islanders and Johnny Boychuk are discussing a new contract. Boychuk is eligible for UFA status in July…The Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Chris Tanev have started contract talks…The Winnipeg Jets and Michael Frolik’s agent could start contract talks when the Jets travel to Los Angeles…The Edmonton Oilers might not be interested in trading forward Matt Hendricks…The Carolina Hurricanes will make one more attempt to re-sign pending UFAs Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty…Friedman also reports the Oilers, Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes are unlikely to accept an Eric Lindros-like offer for their first-round picks, which could potentially be first or second overall at this year’s draft…He also believes the Oilers will consider trading Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle this summer…Friedman’s colleague Jeff Blair doubts Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal will waive his no-movement clause and accept a trade to the Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Franson and/or Santorelli decide they want to test this summer’s UFA market they’ll be traded by the March deadline. The Wings could have interest in Franson but GM Ken Holland has made it clear he’s not overpaying for rental players, so no first- or second-round picks, top prospects like Dylan Larkin or Anthony Mantha and no good young players like Tomas Tatar…I usually respect Friedman’s opinion, but I’m puzzled by his persistent stumping for a Phaneuf-for-Richards deal. Kings GM Dean Lombardi has pointed out he’s got limited cap space, plus he must re-sign notable free agents like Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Justin Williams this summer and Anze Kopitar next summer. Adding Phaneuf only eats up precious cap space. And I can’t see the Kings doing a Richards-for-Clarkson swap. There’s no freeing up salary there. Besides, better the devil you know than the one you don’t…Wouldn’t surprise me to see Boychuk re-sign with the Isles, as they’ve become a top team in part because of his presence. I think the Isles are prepared to reward him handsomely…It’s almost impossible in today’s NHL to see “Lindros-like offers”. The league has changed considerably in over twenty years. No way the Oilers, Hurricanes and Coyotes part with their current first-rounders…Unless Hall or Eberle demand to be dealt, trading either guy will be yet another example of how poorly management the Oilers are…Eric Staal is much happier in Carolina than he would be in the hothouse of Toronto.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Bob McKenzie believes lots of team will have interest in Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera if he becomes available by the March trade deadline…He suggests Arizona Coyotes blueliner Zbynek Michalek could make a good rental defenseman for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who just lost Matt Carle to injury for several weeks…McKenzie speculates the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers could be suitors for Arizona’s Antoine Vermette…Colleague Darren Dreger doesn’t think the Winnipeg Jets are a fit for Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Dreger, I don’t doubt the Jets had early interest in O’Reilly and they do have depth in quality blueliners to offer up, but O’Reilly’s UFA status next summer and the expense to re-sign him probably takes them out of the equation.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Wayne Scanlan reports Senators GM Bryan Murray has received calls from rival GMs interested in long-time Senators Chris Phillips and Chris Neil, as well as pending UFA blueliner Marc Methot. Murray said there’s nothing imminent and before considering moving Phillips and Neil he would have a long discussion with them first. He also said he’s still seeking a top-six or top-three forward, but discounted his chances of landing Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly. He remains hopeful of re-signing Methot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phillips and Neil won’t land a top-six forward. Neither will Methot. At best Murray might find a rental player. If he seeks a player with more term on his contract it’s going to cost him a good young player of his own, or a top prospect or his first round pick.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun believes the Pittsburgh Penguins would like to add a fourth-line forward…The New York Rangers seek a bottom-six forward who can play center or wing, and perhaps a depth defenseman. Given the New York Islanders depth, they aren’t expected to make significant moves at the deadline