Updates on the Flyers, Canucks, Devils, Senators and Maple Leafs in your NHL rumor mill.
Flyers, Canucks and Devils yet to decide if they’re buyers or sellers.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi speculates Flyers GM Ron Hextall will likely be a seller at the NHL trade deadline, listing blueliners Mark Streit and Nick Schultz, along with winger Matt Read, as possible trade candidates. If Hextall decides to become a buyer, “Hextall may try to upgrade the offense by adding a winger (Kyle Okposo? Andrew Ladd?) for the stretch run – or see if he can pry 20-year-old Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ performance over the next three weeks will determine what Hextall does. Fall further out of contention, and he hangs out the “For Sale” shingle. If they claw their way into a postseason berth, he could seek affordable rental players.
I don’t see the Islanders parting with Okposo now. Ladd could be available but the asking price could be too rich for Hextall. Drouin’s certainly available, but the asking price is rumored to be either an affordable defenseman with a right-handed shot (Streit and Schultz shoot left), or a couple of top prospects. Don’t think Hextall gets involved in that, especially for a player who, while promising, has yet to fully prove himself at the NHL level.
THE VANCOUVER SUN: Brad Ziemer reports the Canucks play eight of 11 games this month at home, which could determine if they become buyers or sellers at the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Winger Radim Vrbata, defenseman Dan Hamhuis and forward Brandon Prust are the likely trade candidates. Others could include Yannick Weber, Alex Burrows, Matt Bartkowski, Chris Higgins and Linden Vey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve said for weeks now that if the Canucks remain in playoff contention by the deadline, they’ll hang onto Vrbata and Hamhuis. If they fall further back in the standings, they’ll be sellers. As Ziemer noted, their upcoming homestand will determine what they do on deadline day.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Tom Gulitti believes New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero owes it to his players to be a buyer at the trade deadline to boost their offense and improve their chances of clinching a playoff spot. Shero said he’s unwilling to moves assets for a rental player, leading Gulitti to suspect the Devils GM would prefer a younger top-six forward who fits into his long-term plans, like his acquisition last summer of winger Kyle Palmieri. Such deals at the trade deadline aren’t impossible, but Gulitti notes they’re also not common.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero won’t part with a first- or second-round draft pick, a top prospect or a promising young player for a rental player. However, if he has the opportunity to land a top-six forward for, say, a third-rounder, I think he’ll go for it. That depends, of course, on who’s available at the trade deadline and the asking price. Shero could play it cool, hoping that a team desperate to move out a player lowers their price before the deadline. That’s how the Canadiens landed Thomas Vanek at the 2014 trade deadline.
Updates on the Senators and Maple Leafs.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa believes the small-market Ottawa Senators would like to free up more salary-cap room in order to re-sign key restricted free agents like Mike Hoffman. Defenseman Jared Cowen has a year left on his contract worth $4.5 million.
Shinzawa believes pending UFAs P-A Parenteau, Shawn Matthias and Daniel Winnik will fetch the highest return for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline. The Leafs could also find it difficult to move goaltender Jonathan Bernier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cowen’s been a fixture in the trade-rumor mill this season, but that salary could prove difficult to move. Perhaps an off-season move is possible, provided they take back a salaried player in the deal or absorb part of the contract. They could also try peddling Cowen this summer to a budget club that needs to reach the salary-cap floor for 2016-17.
Winnik isn’t a UFA, as he has one season left on his contract. It’s rumored the Leafs could try moving him, but given the decline in his play this season, his value isn’t as good as the others.