Is a trade in the works for the free-falling Canadiens? Will the Leafs trade Leo Komarov? Could the Wild shop Matt Dumba? The latest in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
Trade coming for the Canadiens?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens told demoted winger Zack Kassian not to report to their AHL affiliate in St. John’s. He claims a number of teams have interest in Kassian and are doing background checks on the 24-year-old winger, who recently completed Phase Two of the league’s substance abuse program. One of the clubs to watch is the San Jose Sharks, as their assistant coach Bob Boughner also coaches Kassian during their days in the OHL.
TVA SPORTS: The Sharks and Edmonton Oilers are among the teams believed to have interest in Kassian.
RDS.CA: Francois Gagnon said he wouldn’t be surprised if Kassian was dealt, or if defenseman Jarred Tinordi was moved, after the current holiday trade freeze ends at midnight tonight. However, getting a draft pick or future considerations won’t help the punchless Canadiens right now. He wonders if GM Marc Bergevin could be losing patience with some of his struggling stars. Gagnon noted there were rumors Bergevin was interested in Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds, but his colleague Mathieu Darche claims the Flyers aren’t keen to move Simmonds. He also believes it will take giving up a quality player to get him.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Pierre Durocher reports there’s even rumors forward Alex Galchenyuk could be trade bait.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers should trade goalie Michal Neuvirth if the right deal comes along while his trade value is high, “If the Flyers can get a high draft pick, a backup goalie, and get someone to take Vinny Lecavalier’s albatross of a contract off their hands, this deal would make sense.Listening, Montreal?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs need help big time. I don’t doubt Bergevin’s trying to move Kassian, but he’ll have to add in a sweetener (like a top prospect and/or a first-round pick) to land a reliable scorer. Perhaps he bundles Kassian with another player, though moving someone like Galchenyuk would be a panic measure. This could be Bergevin’s biggest test yet as Canadiens GM, trying to swing a midseason deal at a time when cap constraints have led to a stagnant trade market to bolster his team’s struggling offense.
It’s not goaltending that’s the problem, but a lack of offensive production, especially after agitating winger Brendan Gallagher was sidelined several weeks ago. Sure, the Habs would love to land a rugged player with scoring ability like Simmonds. So would all the other NHL teams. I’ll be very surprised if the Flyers want to part with him, especially now that they’re on the upswing. They do need to clear cap space to avoid demoting rookie blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere when Mark Streit returns to the lineup on Wednesday, but they don’t have to go to the extreme of trading away Simmonds. And I doubt very much Bergevin wants to take a fading Lecavalier’s contract off the Flyers’ hands.
Updated on Komarov and Dumba.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons claims the Toronto Maple Leafs have no intention of taking advantage of forward Leo Komarov’s strong performance this season by trading him. Simmons claims the only way they’ll consider it is if they get a mind-blowing offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Komarov’s under contract through 2017-18 so the Leafs aren’t in any hurry to move him. He also loves playing in Toronto. Komarov could be the type of character player worth keeping to tutor promising prospects like William Nylander and Mitch Marner when they make the jump to the Leafs.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa believes the next order of business for Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is to re-sign promising defenseman Matt Dumba, who’s in the final season of his entry-level contract. “Because of the depth and quality of Minnesota’s defense and Dumba’s ceiling, teams are wondering whether the youngster could be available via trade. The price, however, would be very high.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wild put Dumba on the trade block, I expect they’ll seek a promising young forward (preferably a center) in return. His name sometimes pops up whenever there’s talks of the Wild perhaps pursuing Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen. However, it’ll take more than Dumba to land Johansen.