The latest on Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Drouin, Jamie McGinn, Brandon Pirri and more in your NHL Rumor Mill.
Highlights from the Ottawa Sun’s “Insider Trading.”
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman continues to work the phones of search of a trade partner for disgruntled left wing Jonathan Drouin. Garrioch claims the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens are among the clubs with interest in Drouin, but none wish to pay Yzerman’s asking price, which was originally a roster player but is now high-end prospects.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin would like to add size to his forward lines but teams keep asking him for young assets.
Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and left wing Andrew Ladd are willing to stay in Winnipeg for big raises. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could keep one of them for the stretch drive (possibly Byfuglien) and shop the other at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Jets keep tumbling in the Western Conference standings, both players could hit the trade market before Feb. 29. Byfuglien and Ladd are supposed to be this club’s leaders, but the Jets have little to show for it since the franchise relocated from Atlanta in 2011. The Jets need a roster shakeup and a change in leadership behind the bench and on the roster. This club has the talent to be better than they are, but they’ve been spinning wheels for years.
Lots of interest in Calgary Flames defenseman Kris Russell but management still hopes to re-sign him.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is in the market for a center.
The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t shopped pending UFA Eric Staal, but there are teams interested in acquiring him before the trade deadline.
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are shopping around for depth at forward.
Stamkos offers no comment on reported contract offer.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports Lightning captain Steven Stamkos declined to comment on a recent report claiming the club’s offered him a new deal worth $8.5 million per season. “We haven’t talked about that stuff in the media all season long, and I don’t know how they get a hold of stuff like that”, said Stamkos. “All the things that we’ve talked about, it’s staying internally, and it’ll continue to be that way.” He continues to insist his preference is to remain with the Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We shouldn’t read too much into that supposed offer from the Lightning. It appears to be an opening pitch and not an attempt to play hardball. The Lightning offers $8.5 million, the Stamkos camp counters with over $10.5 million and the two sides start working toward what they hope will be a mutually beneficial number.
Latest on the Sabres, Panthers and Blue Jackets.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl recently reported Sabres GM Tim Murray must decide if he’ll re-sign pending UFA winger Jamie McGinn or shop him at the trade deadline. McGinn’s been a pleasant surprise for the Sabres, this season, ranking among their scoring leaders. His agent recently claimed he’s had no contract discussions with Murray, but indicated his client loves playing in Buffalo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGinn lands at best a second-round pick, and the Sabres are loaded with draft picks (11) in this year’s draft. His current cap hit is $2.95 million, and re-upping him could cost close to $3.75 million. The Sabres could shop him at the trade deadline and then try to re-sign him as a UFA in July.
TSN: cited recent “tweets” from Miami Herald hockey columnist George Richards claiming the Florida Panthers aren’t peddling winger Brandon Pirri. “Now, I’m not saying #FlaPanthers won’t trade Brandon Pirri; they have been getting offers. But they aren’t trying to move him and like him.”
TSN 1050 (via Today’s Slapshot): Bob McKenzie recently speculated the Columbus Blue Jackets could be active at the trade deadline and in the offseason as they attempt to restructure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s growing speculation the Jackets will try to move winger Scott Hartnell ($4.75 million annually through 2018-19) and defenseman Fedor Tyutin ($4.5 million per through 2017-18) before the deadline. Given those contracts, they won’t be easy to deal.