Updates on Jonathan Drouin, Steven Stamkos, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Marleau and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman weighed in on Jonathan Drouin’s trade request from the Tampa Bay Lightning, believing Lightning GM Steve Yzerman won’t be pressured into making a deal he might later regret. Friedman believes every NHL team could call Yzerman to inquire what it would take to land Drouin, suggesting the asking price could vary from team to team. He suggests Chicago, Winnipeg, Anaheim, Carolina, Nashville, New Jersey and possible Ottawa could be teams with young assets that could interest Yzerman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Yzerman shops Drouin, I suspect (like Friedman) he’ll target teams with promising young assets. The Lightning cannot afford to take back too much salary, as they have too many key players to re-sign this summer and in 2017. I don’t expect Drouin will be dealt before the trade deadline. If Yzerman decides to trade the young winger, it’ll likely be in the offseason.
Friedman also feels the smartest option for the Lightning is to wait until there’s clarity regarding the status of pending UFA Steven Stamkos. He believes Stamkos wants to remain with the Lightning and is willing to compromise, but he wonders if Yzerman is will to do the same.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos recently said both sides were still discussing a contract, but that’s as far as he was willing to go as both have agreed to keep negotiations out of the media. Right now, it’s likely a case of which side is willing to blink first.
Of the trade demands made this season, Friedman feels that of San Jose Shark’s forward Patrick Marleau is least likely to stick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if the Sharks wanted to trade Marleau, they certainly won’t ship him to a California rival like the Kings and Ducks, while the New York Rangers can’t afford his $6.6 million cap hit. Those were the three clubs reportedly on his list of preferred trade destinations. If he truly wants to be traded, he’ll have to broaden that list.
It’s possible Philadelphia Flyers center Sam Gagner could become a trade candidate. He wasn’t claimed off waivers because no club wanted to take on the full salary. GM Ron Hextall “hinted there’s a trade possibility.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most likely Gagner will be moved near the trade deadline, when most of his salary has been paid out by the Flyers.
With the Florida Panthers now a playoff contender, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if they made a pitch for Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien. GM Dale Tallon was part of the Chicago Blackhawks organization when they drafted Byfuglien and became GM during his rise through the ranks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not the first time we’ve heard that speculation that Tallon might pursue Byfuglien. However, Tallon recently said his priority would be to add a sniper. Unless he changes his mind, he won’t be chasing Byfuglien this season.
The Arizona Coyotes are trying to move forward Steve Downie.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He could be moved by the trade deadline to a contender looking for fourth-line grit.
Friedman claims the Ottawa Senators were trying hard to move defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, but with Jared Cowen now in coach Dave Cameron’s doghouse, perhaps their focus shifts to moving out Cowen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the two, Wiercioch could be the easier to move, as he’s an RFA at season’s end while Cowen still has a year left on his contract at a cap hit of $3.1 million.
Canucks inquired about Drouin and Johansen.
TSN 1040 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s inquired about Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin and Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen, adding the asking prices for both players are “really high.” Benning said his team is in a transition period and he wants to keep his young players and develop them into the next core of their team. He also dismissed the notion the Canucks should tank the season to improve their chances of landing a high draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a safe bet the asking price for either player from the Canucks would include Bo Horvat, Jared McCann or Jake Virtanen as part of the return. Benning is doing the right thing by sticking with his kids. There’s no shortcut to success here. The best method remains drafting well and developing those promising youngsters. .