Latest on the Coyotes and Maple Leafs, Sabres and Rangers.
Coyotes “Reset” Starting Soon?
THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Sarah McLellan reports Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney has “targeted a reset” rather than a full-blown rebuild for his struggling club. When asked about the futures of pending UFAs Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek and Martin Erat, Maloney said his focus right now is acquiring young assets.” While Maloney doesn’t rule out moving defenseman Keith Yandle for the right offer by the trade deadline, he also noted Yandle’s value to his club. The Coyotes GM also intends to open contract talks soon with restricted free agent winger Mikkel Boedker.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan reports Senators GM Bryan Murray confirmed he’d had talks with the Coyotes over Antoine Vermette, but Murray now feels he’s “past that stage” where he could acquire the former Senator.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims virtually everyone is available on the Coyotes other than Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, though Friedman noted Maloney supposedly said Ekman-Larsson wasn’t an untouchable. He considers Ekman-Larsson and Martin Hanzal as the two toughest players to get from the Coyotes. Friedman also considers Vermette a perfect fit with the Montreal Canadiens and wonders if Habs GM Marc Bergevin is trying to get him.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough cites a recent interview by Coyotes GM Don Maloney saying Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a player he’d be very reluctant to part with, though given the club’s record “then everybody is up for grabs.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, the Coyotes could trade Ekman-Larsson for the right price, but I doubt there will be teams willing to pay that price. Think a top young player, top prospect and first-round pick. Maloney’s signalling he’s willing to listen to offers for his best players but that doesn’t mean he’s going to move guys like Ekman-Larsson, who’ll be crucial to the Coyotes rebuild, er, sorry, “reset”. Yandle’s more likely to move than Ekman-Larsson, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they move him by the trade deadline or in the offseason. If the Canadiens are interested in Vermette, Maloney could seek Lars Eller in return.
Leafs scouting Richards?
SPORTNET: Jeff Simmons reports Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis was in Manchester on Friday as part of a long-planned scouting trip. It’s expected one of the players he checked out was Mike Richards, recently demoted to the Monarchs. The Maple Leafs were reportedly among several teams linked to Richards in recent trade talk.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports teams are “definitely interested” in Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, despite his hefty contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs acquire Richards it’ll be a move reeking of desperation. As for Phaneuf, sure, I believe teams are interested in him, but as Friedman notes, teams have to figure out how to fit his contract under their cap. And that move probably won’t happen (if it happens at all) until the offseason.
Stewart and the Sabres.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators have been looking at Chris Stewart, who’s been given up on by the Avalanche, Blues and now the Sabres…Friedman wonders if the Sabres might buy out Cody Hodgson, who’s been a disappointment this season…He also notes the Sabres have been scouting the Red Wings AHL club recently.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yep, teams have “looked” at Chris Stewart, and if the Sabres lower their asking price perhaps one of them might try to land him….Hodgson has four more seasons at $4.25 million per season left on his contract. A buyout is possible but I think the Sabres will hang onto him and give him another opportunity to turn things around next season…Sabres scouting the Red Wings farm team? Crank up the “Tyler Myers to Detroit” rumors.
Rangers showcasing Moore?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if the Rangers are showcasing little-used defensemen John Moore for a rental defenseman like Ottawa’s Marc Methot, Carolina’s Andrej Sekera or Colorado’s Jan Hejda.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps it’s for a checking-line center who can play with grit and win faceoffs? Forget about landing Hejda, with Erik Johnsson sidelined several weeks with a knee injury and the Avs only two points out of playoff contention they’re not parting with him now.