Latest on the Islanders, Jets, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks and Bruins in your NHL Rumor Mill.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “3o Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports New York Islanders GM Garth Snow might not be done dealing after shipping winger Michael Grabner last week to Toronto. He points out the Islanders still have “an excess of forwards”, and speculates over prospect Joshua Ho-Sang’s future with the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Veteran right wing Kyle Okposo frequently popped up in the offseason rumor mill. He’s a UFA next summer and will likely remain the subject of trade conjecture. However, unless the Isles can find a suitable replacement for him or if they’re out of playoff contention by the Feb. 29 trade deadline, I doubt he’ll be going anywhere this season.
The Winnipeg Jets were among the clubs with interest in former Chicago Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg prior to his being dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes. Friedman wouldn’t have been surprised if injured defenseman Grant Clitsome’s contract was part of the discussion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Versteeg is also a UFA next summer and could become a bargaining chip by the Hurricanes if they’re out of playoff contention leading up to the trade deadline. If he has a good season in Carolina, perhaps the Jets will revisit their interest.
Friedman claims “more than one NHL exec” believes Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello would love to acquire center Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports’ James O’Brien weighed in on this tidbit, speculating the Devils new management would probably love to shed Zajac’s $5.75 million annual cap hit, especially with that deal entering its most expensive seasons. Lamoriello was the one who inked Zajac to that horrible deal, and while he might still believe in the 30-year-old center, I doubt the rest of the Leafs front office is keen to take on that full contract through 2020-21.
It appears contract talks between the Blackhawks and defenseman Brent Seabrook are moving in the right direction. Seabrook is eligible next summer for UFA status, but one NHL GM doubts he’ll reach the market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate Seabrook gets at least a five-year deal worth around $7-million annually. The ‘Hawks can afford to re-sign him to that amount and still have enough for Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger.
How will the Bruins replace Seidenberg?
BOSTON HERALD: Stephen Harris reports back surgery sidelining Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for up to eight weeks could force GM Don Sweeney to explore the trade market for an experienced replacement. Indeed, Sweeney told Harris he’s following the rosters of other NHL clubs for players who could help the Bruins, claiming he’s been assessing trade possibilities all along in hopes of finding a suitable fit.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggarty also weighed in on Seidenberg’s surgery and its effects upon the Bruins defense corps, suggesting we shouldn’t be surprised if the “Dustin Byfuglien to Boston” rumors flash up again.
SI.COM: Allan Muir speculates Sweeney could first scour the waiver wire to address this issue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also expect the “Byfuglien-to-Bruins” speculation to ramp up again. While one shouldn’t fully dismiss that possibility, it’s going to cost a lot to pry Big Buff out of Winnipeg right now. The Jets will want a top-six scoring winger as part of the return. Muir’s suggestion that Sweeney will look toward the waiver wire first is the more likely short-term scenario.