Updates on Anze Kopitar,Jonathan Drouin, Radim Vrbata, Justin Schultz, Keith Yandle, Jared Cowen and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from TSN’s Insiders.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports a new contract for Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, believed close to be completed, has hit a snag. While some components of the deal have been agreed upon, there’s others where the two sides are “almost at an impasse,” meaning there’s more work to be done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Term (eight years) and salary ($9.75 million per season) aren’t the issues. Speculation suggests it could be over a no-trade/no-movement clause.
Of the teams who’ve expressed interest in Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin, not many get the sense he’s about to be traded. Either Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is taking things slowly to get the deal he wants, or else he’s settle on one team as a destination to the exclusion of the others. Pierre LeBrun lists St. Louis, Anaheim, Montreal, Minnesota and Ottawa among the interested parties. He claims there’s been some conversations between the Lightning and Senators and thinks the Bolts could have interest in defenseman Cody Ceci, but the Sens won’t part with him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman is probably taking his time. Drouin is in the second year of a three-year entry-level deal and holds no leverage. Yzerman doesn’t have to rush to get a deal done.
LeBrun claims the Vancouver Canucks haven’t decided yet what to do with 34-year-old winger (and pending UFA) Radim Vrbata. If he hits the trade market, he’ll be coveted.
Dreger reports Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz isn’t being shopped or pushed out by management, but they could consider moving him for the right offer. He also notes there’s interest in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak.
McKenzie reports Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen hasn’t made a trade request, but there’s a sense he’d look favorably on a fresh start elsewhere. His $3.1 million cap hit for this season and next is tough to move and the Sens still believe he’s salvageable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a rash of injuries to the Senators defense corps, I think Cowen will be moved before the trade deadline. It’s obvious he’s not a favorite of head coach Dave Cameron.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman suggests the Anaheim Ducks, who need offense, could be worth watching in the Jonathan Drouin trade sweepstakes. He believes the Lightning seek a young player “who is under team control for some time”, as GM Steve Yzerman doesn’t want to add to his current contract concerns. That’s why St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who’s been linked to Drouin in the rumor mill, isn’t a good fit. He’s signed through 2016-17 at $4.25 million annually and becomes a UFA in July 2017.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Shattenkirk for Drouin rumor pretty much died out as this week went on. I can see the Ducks having serious interest in Drouin, as they have the blueline depth to make a competitive offer.
No truth to the rumors the Montreal Canadiens offered up “a roster player (not Galchenyuk), a prospect (not Michael McCarron) and a conditional first-rounder for Drouin.”
The Colorado Avalanche are at the maximum 50 contracts. They are expected to shed one or two.
The Columbus Blue Jackets could try to move one of their nine defensemen.
Friedman also noted the current status of the Anze Kopitar contract negotiations, calling it one of the strangest he’s covered. He claims one league executive “asked if he should actually plan for the possibility Kopitar hits the market”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Kings trading Kopitar. They’re in position to challenge for the Stanley Cup this season. They’ll need Kopitar for that push.
Updates on the Rangers and Blue Jackets.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites defenseman Keith Yandle’s usage by New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault as an indication the blueliner doesn’t have a long-term future with the Blueshirts. He also claims the Rangers are keeping an eye on the Jonathan Drouin situation, but they haven’t contacted the Columbus Blue Jackets regarding right wing Cam Atkinson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s growing speculation out of New York suggesting Yandle could be a goner before the trade deadline. The next month could tell the tale. If the Rangers are still struggling, they could peddle Yandle for a scoring right wing.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline yesterday reported the Blue Jackets are carrying nine defensemen. Management is expected to cut salary before the trade deadline and blueliner Fedor Tyutin seems a likely candidate. “He’s making $5 million this season and is due to make $4.75 million next season and $4 million in 2017-18.” Tyutin also carries a modified no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets placed defenseman Kevin Connauton on waivers yesterday, so that’s one way to shed one of their blueliners. Tyutin’s fallen down the Blue Jackets depth chart, plus his contract won’t be easy to move.