The latest on on the Leafs, Red Wings, Flyers, Bruins, Stars and more in your Sunday Rumor Roundup.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports NHL trade chatter is expected to increase in the coming weeks as more teams (New Jersey, Philadelphia, Columbus) fall by the wayside in the playoff chase while bubble teams (Senators, Maple Leafs, Wild, Stars) desperately try to close the gap on a playoff berth…The Leafs are getting plenty of calls regarding winger James van Riemsdyk and defenseman Morgan Rielly but they’re not going anywhere. Despite trade rumors about Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf the Leafs could have a difficult time moving their expensive contracts. The Leafs would like to trade David Clarkson but there’s not expected to be much interest in his $5.25 million annual cap hit…The Vancouver Canucks seek a top-six forward. Winger Zack Kassian and goalies Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom could become trade chips…The San Jose Sharks have been unsuccessful in their efforts to trade pending UFA forward Tyler Kennedy…At some point the Edmonton Oilers will move defenseman Jeff Petry…Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray remains patient with trade bait Chris Stewart, Drew Stafford and Torrey Mitchell. It’s believed the Flames and Bruins are interested in Stewart…The LA Kings could seek forward depth…The Winnipeg Jets have nine defenseman and could shop Adam Pardy…What will the Arizona Coyotes do with captain Shane Doan? He’s got a full no-movement clause and it’s believed he doesn’t want to leave, but that might change next season when he’s a few months from UFA status…If the Florida Panthers fall out of playoff contention forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim and Tomas Kopecky will be shopped…Garrioch wonders if the Bruins could pursue Dallas Stars winger Erik Cole as a playoff rental player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the Leafs dealt JVR or Rielly. While I don’t doubt there’s interest in Kessel and Phaneuf, their contracts won’t be easy to move, plus they also have limited no-trade clauses. The Leafs won’t get fair value for either player because they’re dealing from positions of weakness. The best you can say about moving either guy is it sheds significant salary. And there’s no market for Clarkson, even if you eat half his salary…The Canucks want scoring help but GM Jim Benning’s made it clear he’s not looking for a quick-fix deal and won’t part with his promising young players…There’s no market for Kennedy…At this point, Stewart is a trade target of last resort, thanks to his poor numbers and the asking price of a top prospect and first-round pick…If Doan doesn’t want to leave there’s nothing the Coyotes can do…If the Bruins play themselves into a playoff berth perhaps they could have some interest in Cole as a rental.
TORONTO SUN: Rob Longley reports of the ongoing speculation the Maple Leafs current troubling situation could lead to a complete overhaul, led by team president Brendan Shanahan. Pending UFAs Cody Franson, Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli could be moved at the March trade deadline. Joffrey Lupul (if he can ever stay healthy) and Jake Gardiner might attract interest. Longley acknowledged the call of Leafs fans for captain Dion Phaneuf to be dealt but wondered which team would take on his lengthy and expensive contract and what kind of return the Leafs could get. Longley also notes the conundrum facing the Leafs regarding star Phil Kessel. If Shanahan decides to move Kessel, will he fetch a fair return?…Steve Simmons believes winger James van Riemsdyk is the easiest player for the Leafs to move given his potential and reasonably affordable contract. Simmons believes there’s a market for Dion Phaneuf but doubts the Leafs get any kind of equal value in return. He also believes the best time for the Leafs to make their major deals is this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I were in Shanahan’s shoes I’d ship out those UFAs you either cannot afford to re-sign (Franson could fall into that category) or those you don’t want to re-sign. After that, I’d hold off making any significant moves until I decided to either retain Dave Nonis as GM or replace him. If it’s the latter, I’d waste no time firing Nonis at season’s end in mid-April (because the Leafs won’t make the playoffs at their current rate) and try to hire a replacement by no later than May 15. I’d also waste little time shopping for a full-time NHL head coach. Fortunately there’s a decent market of available candidates this summer (including such notables as Dan Bylsma, Kevin Dineen and Pete DeBoer. Sorry Leafs fans, but Mike Babcock ain’t comin’ to Toronto). I’d want that new coach and GM in place by no later than June 1 because I want their input on the players worth retaining, possible trade partners for the players I want to move and which prospects to pursue in the draft. But I’m not in Shanny’s shoes, so who knows what he’s got in mind.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports the cap-strapped Boston Bruins could have difficulty re-signing pending UFA center Carl Soderberg, speculating another club could snap him up on the open market this summer by dangling offers of $5 million per season or more…The Bruins haven’t eliminated Buffalo Sabres winger Chris Stewart as a trade deadline pickup, provided the Sabres lower their asking price…Winger Alex Tanguay could draw attention if the Colorado Avalanche shop him at the trade deadline. He’s signed through next season earning $3.5 million annually and is on pace to score 22 goals this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins must also re-sign RFAs Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith and they’ll all want significant raises, complicating efforts to retain Soderberg…Any GM desperate or crazy enough to pony up a top prospect and first-round pick for Stewart should be fired immediately on grounds of incompetence. Stewart’s just not worth that type of return. The Sabres will be lucky to get a second-round pick for him…Given Tanguay’s chemistry with Jarome Iginla this season I doubt the Avs put him on the block.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James notes the Red Wings defense corps lacks a right-handed shot while only one regular forward shoots right. She suggests Toronto’s Cody Franson, Ottawa’s Eric Gryba, Edmonton’s Jeff Petry, Buffalo’s Tyler Myers and Carolina’s Justin Faulk as possible trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of these their best ones are Franson and Petry. St. James notes Gryba’s offensive game is limited. The asking price for Myers is so high (A good young player, a first-round pick and a top prospect) I doubt the Wings will pay it. I also doubt the Hurricanes will move Faulk, seeing him as a key piece of their impending rebuild.
PHILLY.COM: Frank Seravalli speculates the declining Canadian dollar and a potentially lower-than-expected salary cap ceiling for 2015-16 could hurt the Flyers chances of moving one of their defensemen – Braydon Coburn ($4.5 million), Nick Grossmann ($3.5 million) or Luke Schenn ($3.6 million) – under contract for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lower-than-projected cap could scare off some teams from pursuing any of those blueliners. Then again, those with lots of cap space looking to boost their defense could still come calling.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika lists forwards and pending UFAs Erik Cole and Shawn Horcoff as players the Dallas Stars could shop by the trade deadline if they fall out of playoff contention by then. Heika also notes the Stars are seeking a top-four defenseman with size. Possible trade targets could include Arizona’s Zbynek Michaek, Toronto’s Cody Franson or Dion Phaneuf or Ottawa’s Marc Methot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Stars fall completely out of playoff contention in a month’s time, Cole and Horcoff are goners. Franson, Methot and Michalek would make solid rental players if the Stars are still in the hunt. Phaneuf is too expensive and the Stars might not be on his list of acceptable trade destinations.