With the NHL holiday trade freeze (Dec. 19-27) now a week away, get the latest on Ryan Johansen, Eric Staal and Steven Stamkos, plus updates on the Blues, Panthers and Stars.
Latest on Johansen, Staal and the Blues.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen could be on the move at some point this season. He’s been in head coach John Tortorella’s doghouse at times this season, though Friedman thinks it’s still possible the two can work together. If not, he suggests the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues or Vancouver Canucks could be interested as they’re in need of a No. 1 center. If the Jackets decide to move him, however, what will they seek for a return?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You’re talking about trading a first-line center. The Blue Jackets won’t get a comparable player in return, so the asking price could be at least a good young player (perhaps a defenseman, as they’ve been seeking a top-four rearguard for some time), a top prospect and a first-round pick. If the Predators were to offer up, say, Seth Jones or Roman Josi, or the Blues dangled Kevin Shattenkirk, or the Canucks Alex Edler, the Blue Jackets could jump all over that.
Friedman believes Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal will be traded this season. He doesn’t think management has asked Staal yet where he wants to be dealt, as he carries a full no-movement clause. He suggests Montreal or Nashville as potential destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens and Predators won’t overpay for Staal, as they likely see him solely as a rental player. Draft picks and/or prospects are likely the best return the Hurricanes get.
At some point, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman’s got to sit down with captain Steven Stamkos or his agents and confirm if he’s re-signing or not. If not, where does he want to be dealt? Friedman feels a little nervous about them moving Stamkos because center Tyler Johnson keeps getting hurt.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Tyler Johnson and the rest of the Triplet Line were tearing it up offensively this season, I’d find it easy to believe the Lightning would trade Stamkos. But Johnson’s been hurt a lot, the Lightning’s offense has significantly declined this season and suddenly a future without Stamkos seems less rosy than it was when the season began.
Friedman also believes the St. Louis Blues could be among the teams looking to make a trade. He also claims the Vancouver Canucks were looking around following center Brandon Sutter’s surgery to see what’s out there in the trade market.
Highlights from Matheson’s latest “Hockey World.”
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Dallas Stars are seeking a veteran defenseman to add to their top-four. “UFA’s to consider as a trade: Mark Streit with the Philadelphia Flyers and Kris Russell in Calgary, with Brian Campbell in Florida in the mix.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Streit still has one season remaining on his contract. If the Stars pursued Streit I think the Flyers happily trade him, provided the Stars are on his list of preferred trade destinations. The Flames hope to re-sign Russell, though they could shop him at the deadline if that doesn’t seem possible. I don’t see the Panthers trading Campbell while they’re in the midst of the playoff chase.
Matheson believes the Florida Panthers will be interested in blueliner Dustin Byfuglien if the Winnipeg Jets can’t re-sign him. “GM Dale Tallon worked with him in Chicago and only begrudgingly moved him for cap concerns after their first Cup win, trading him to Atlanta.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Actually, it was Stan Bowman who dealt Byfuglien to Atlanta. Regardless, if Tallon’s interested in Byfuglien, I think he waits until the offseason to pursue him via free agency. Right now, his primary need is for a scoring forward.
The play of Roman Josi “is the reason the Predators might consider dealing Shea Weber in the off-season.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe, but moving Weber’s big contract (assuming the Predators indeed want to move him) won’t be easy, especially if there’s only another marginal increase in the salary-cap ceiling.
Panthers seek a goalscorer.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford cites an interview by Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon with Fox Sports Florida in which he admitted he’d like to boost his club’s offense. Halford suggests Vancouver Canucks winger Radim Vrbata as a possible trade target.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers narrowly missed the playoff cut last season and are in the thick of this season’s playoff chase in the Eastern Conference. An anemic offense killed them last season (25th overall), and it could hurt them again (20th overall) this season. Tallon will chase a goalscorer leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, if not sooner. If the Canucks are out of the playoff race by February, Vrbata could become available.