Latest on the Sabres, Stars and Canadiens, plus up dates on Luke Schenn and Nikita Nikitin.
Highlights of Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres have been seeking a left-shot defenseman since the 2015 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Tampa Bay Lightning are reportedly shopping Matt Carle, who’s a left-handed shot, but I doubt the Sabres will have interest in his $5.5 million annual cap hit through 2017-18.
Teams in need of defensemen are focused on the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens, who each carry eight blueliners. Stars GM Jim Nill doesn’t want to be Jamie Oleksiak on waivers, nor does Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin wish to do the same with Jared Tinordi, prompting rivals to make inquiries. Both clubs are in a position where they can afford to be patient. Friedman guesses the asking price for Tinordi could be two second rounders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oleksiak and Tinordi are big defensemen (both stand over 6-foot-5) but they’ve yet to establish themselves as reliable NHL blueliners. Some GMs, however, could be willing to take a chance on them, provided the asking price isn’t too high. Don’t see the Habs getting two second rounders for Tinordi.
Friedman is puzzled over why the Philadelphia Flyers can’t move defenseman Luke Schenn, whose age (26) and UFA status next summer should make him a prime trade candidate. Because of his cap hit ($3.6 million), it hurts his trade value if the Flyers won’t retain part of it. His lack of speed is another factor. One GM believes Schenn’s market value will improve as more of his salary is spent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schenn was also a healthy scratch in several games last month, which doesn’t help his trade stock. If the Flyers want to move him, they have to play him regularly and be willing to pick up a portion of his cap hit. Otherwise, it could take weeks, perhaps even into the New Year, to find a willing trade partner for him.
No truth to rumors of the Los Angeles Kings having interest in Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Roman Polak. There’s rumblings the Leafs are checking into goalie options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a shaky start, the Kings have found blueline stability, winning eight of their last nine games. I don’t think there’s any urgency on their part right now to purse a blueliner via trade. As for the Leafs goalie options, I pointed out in a recent THN.com Rumor Roundup that there aren’t many decent goalies available right now.
Interest in Nikitin growing?
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports some teams, “including maybe the Colorado Avalanche,” have expressed some interest in Edmonton Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin, who is currently skating with their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Nikitin had a work visa issue and hasn’t played many games yet, but one he gets up to speed, interest in him could increase. The Oilers would love to move him, but recognize they must take back part of his $4.5 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nikitin is a UFA next summer, so any interested team won’t be taking on a long-term deal here. Still, it could take some time for him to get up to speed, meaning it will also take time before the Oilers can move him. They could speed up the process by picking up half of his cap hit, but I don’t know how keen they are to do that.