Latest on Eric Staal, Jonathan Drouin, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kyle Okposo, Keith Yandle and more in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
Highlights from Sportsnet’s Hockey Headlines.
SPORTSNET: Damien Cox reports some observers wonder if the Anaheim Ducks recent trade of Carl Hagelin to Pittsburgh for David Perron and Adam Clendening is setting them up to get left wing Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Elliotte Friedman adds the eventual return of injured blueliners Simon Despres and Cam Fowler could lead to them getting calls from rival clubs.
Friedman also reports Calgary Flames defenseman and pending UFA Kris Russell is garnering interest, but the Flames still hope to re-sign him.
Cox said agent Rick Curran, who represents Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, claims his client’s status still remains in limbo. Curran will meet with Hurricanes management some time this week. Staal is eligible for UFA status in July.
Highlights from Garrioch’s “Insider Trading.”
OTTAWA SUN (via TORONTO SUN) : Bruce Garrioch reports all eyes are on the Winnipeg Jets and what they’ll do with pending UFAs Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd. One league executive doubts they’ll still be with the Jets past the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Jets are out of playoff contention in a month’s time, one or both could be shopped.
Teams could call about St. Louis Blues captain and pending UFA David Backes but the Blues could look to add, not subtract.
New York Islanders GM Garth Snow won’t move defenseman Travis Hamonic unless he gets good value in return. Teams are calling about winger and pending UFA Kyle Okposo, but with the Isles in the playoff race, they could hang onto him for the rest of this season.
If the Vancouver Canucks hope to trade recently demoted winger Chris Higgins, they’ll have to pick up part of his $2.5 million salary. He’s signed through 2016-17. It also remains to be seen what they’ll do with pending UFAs Radim Vrbata, Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canucks remain in playoff contention they’ll retain Vrbata, Hamhuis and Weber. If they’re out of contention, they’ll shop them.
A lot of high-end pending UFAs want a deal comparable to that of the six-year, $41.25 million contract Ryan Kesler signed last year with the Anaheim Ducks. Anze Kopitar’s 10-year, $80-million contract won’t make signing Steven Stamkos any easier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the salary cap remains flat or only marginally increases for 2016-17, a lot of those high-end pending UFAs could end up disappointed.
As many as 15 teams are believed to have contacted the Tampa Bay Lightning about left wing Jonathan Drouin. The Blues are thought to be front-runners as they’re “dangling” Kevin Shattenkirk and have other pieces the Bolts need. Other clubs include the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators. Garrioch believes the Anaheim Ducks were in until they swapped Carl Hagelin to Pittsburgh for David Perron and Adam Clendening.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As we’ve seen, some observers still believe the Ducks are pursuing Drouin. The “Shattenkirk-for-Drouin” speculation died off after it was revealed GM Steve Yzerman isn’t interested in adding to his current contract concerns. Again, unless the Bolts shed salary, they cannot afford to add Shattenkirk.
Garrioch wonders if Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen might be interested in Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller to fill the gap at center after trading away Ryan Johansen, noting Kekalainen drafted Eller when he was in the St. Louis Blues front office.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t see how that move makes sense for the Jackets. Eller’s a checking-line forward who won’t replace Johansen’s offense.
Highlights from Matheson’s “Hockey World.”
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson notes the interest in Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin raises two questions. First, why isn’t Drouin playing in Tampa Bay and why would GM Steve Yzerman trade him if so many teams are interested?
Teams are leery of signing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to a deal longer than five years in length. It’s believed he’ll seek seven years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything over five years is far too long for a defenseman who’ll turn 31 in March.
Matheson wonders if the Colorado Avalanche are interested in New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle, who will “almost certainly” be traded before the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only if the Avs can be certain of re-signing Yandle before he becomes a UFA. Otherwise, it’s a waste of assets for them at this stage to pursue him via trade.
He also wonders (again) if the Anaheim Ducks might pursue Carolina Hurricanes left wing Eric Staal by the trade deadline to skate on their top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson made this speculation prior to the Ducks acquiring David Perron, so I doubt they’ll have interest in Staal. They’re also thought to be interested in Drouin.
Highlights from Shinzawa’s Sunday Hockey Notes.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets might have interest in Vancouver Canucks demoted winger Chris Higgins. He played for Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella with the Rangers and the Jackets need depth at forward. The Canucks will have to pick up part of Higgins’ salary to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adding Higgins would only be worthwhile if the Jackets were pushing for a playoff berth and wanted some veteran depth.
The Toronto Maple Leafs could get future assets by shopping pending UFAs Michael Grabner, Brad Boyes and Roman Polak. They’d like to move Joffrey Lupul, but he’s carrying a $5.25 million annual cap hit through 2018.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs will have an easier time moving Grabner, Boyes and Polak than Lupul.