Updates on Dustin Byfuglien, Evgeni Malkin and Eric Staal, plus the latest on the Predators in your NHL rumor mill.
Isles rejected Byfuglien offer?
SPORTSNET.CA: Elliotte Friedman yesterday stated his belief the New York Islanders rejected an offer of defenseman Dustin Byfuglien from the Winnipeg Jets for blueliner Travis Hamonic. That’s understandable, as Byfuglien is a UFA next summer. Friedman believes the Isles prefer Jacob Trouba but the Jets “aren’t really there to do it.” He isn’t sure if the Jets offered up Tyler Myers and doesn’t think that’s a deal either club wants to make. Friedman also reports the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers “kicked the tires” on Hamonic, but neither club seems a fit right now.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman believes Friedman’s report shouldn’t come as a surprise. “Who wouldn’t want to trade a 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent for a 25-year-old with a long-term, team-friendly contract? And why in the world would the Islanders be interested in such a deal?” He feels the Jets would have to “sweeten the pot” with younger players, prospects and/or draft picks. Even then, Wyman feels that wouldn’t suffice for the Isles to take on Byfuglien for only two-thirds of a season. What this report suggests, however, is Byfuglien and perhaps fellow UFA Andrew Ladd could be on the trade block.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Byfuglien is willing to re-sign with the Islanders upon being acquired, there’s no reason why they should acquire him. If we go by Friedman’s reports, it’s Trouba or nothing for the Isles.
Latest on Eric Staal.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Stan Fischler believes it’s increasingly likely Evgeni Malkin will become the best trade chip for Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. “The deal I can see — Malkin to Carolina for Eric Staal.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fischler needs to visit an optometrist. He’s seeing things no one else can.
TSN 1200 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): If Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal is willing to waive his no-movement clause, Pierre LeBrun believes he’d be a good fit with the Nashville Predators or Montreal Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun’s thinking is the Hurricanes and Canadiens need a proven first-line center. Problem is, Staal can’t fill that role anymore. In fact, he’s now skating at left wing. As the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons recently observed, “Can we please stop referring to Eric Staal as a No. 1 centre? He isn’t anymore. He has 14 points this season, had 54 last year, 61 the year before that. He’s closer to being Vinny Lecavalier than Ryan Getzlaf.” Some observers feel Staal could improve with a change of scenery,. Perhaps as a playoff rental, he might be worth the gamble if the asking price isn’t too high. Otherwise, buyer beware.
ESPN NASHVILLE: Jeremy K. Gover reports it won’t be easy for Nashville Predators GM David Poile to acquire a top-line center. While notable such as Staal, Colorado’s Matt Duchene, Columbus’ Ryan Johansen, Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau have all surfaced in the rumor mill (with some linked to the Predators), Gover indicates the asking price to land any of them would be painful for the Preds. It’ll take much more than the age-old “Colin Wilson and a first” to do it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Poile decides to add depth at center he’ll make that move closer to the trade deadline. He’ll likely seek a rental player, rather than someone with term on their contract. I doubt the Avs are seriously considering moving Duchene now, as that trade talk last month seemed geared more toward improving his play. I don’t see the Oilers shopping Nugent-Hopkins this season. The asking price for Johansen will be expensive (hello there, Seth Jones, top prospect and/or a first-round pick), and the Preds reportedly aren’t on Marleau’s list of preferred trade destinations. He’s also 36, carrying a $6.6 million cap hit and becomes a UFA in 2017. As for Staal, as I noted earlier, buyer beware.