Latest on the Blackhawks, Ducks, Capitals, Predators and Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
What moves will the Blackhawks make?
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus reports the Blackhawks need a left wing to play alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, pointing out how the offense suffered when rookie winger Artemi Panarin was recently sidelined by illness. How well they play without Hossa (currently sidelined this week) will be telling. Erik Gustafsson’s inconsistent play highlights the need for a No. 4 defenseman. Given their limited cap space, however, they probably can’t afford to address both needs. Lazerus believes addressing the wing position is the priority. He notes Winnipeg Jets captain (and former Blackhawk) Andrew Ladd is believed available, but he could prove costly. He expects high asking prices for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker or Calgary’s Jiri Hudler. He suggests more affordable options like Carolina Hurricanes winger Kris Versteeg (another former ‘Hawk) or Toronto Maple Leaf P-A Parenteau.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Lazerus. If the Blackhawks go after a winger (and I expect they will) at the trade deadline, it’ll be an affordable option like Versteeg or Parenteau. Indeed, with the Hurricanes jockeying for a playoff berth, Parenteau could be a more likely option.
Andersen could be a trade chip for the Ducks.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Eric Stephens reports Anaheim Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen could be an attractive trade chip as the Feb. 29 deadline approaches. Andersen is a restricted free agent who could become expendable now that the club has invested a three-year deal in John Gibson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks could trade Andersen, but I’m guessing they’ll retain him for the rest of this season and consider moving him this summer.
Capitals could pursue a depth defenseman.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan reports the Capitals are unlikely to make a splashy move at the trade deadline as it would mean significantly altering the club’s currently successful team chemistry. Noting their depth at forward, Khurshudyan speculates they’ll pursue a depth defenseman. While Vancouver Canucks blueliner Dan Hamhuis is believed the best available, he also carries an expensive cap hit that would necessitate the Canucks picking up part of it. Instead, she suggests they might look at a more affordable option like Buffalo Sabres rearguard Mike Weber.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation the Capitals might pursue a notable defenseman was based largely on Brooks Orpik and his $5.5 million cap hit remaining on LTIR for the remainder of the season. With $1.2 million in deadline cap space and Orpik’s return imminent, that’s no longer an option. Going after a more affordable option seems their best bet.
Will the Predators pursue a goalie?
THE TENNESSEAN: In his recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan expressed doubt the Nashville Predators might pursue a better backup goalie to spell off struggling starter Pekka Rinne. “The Predators will ultimately go only as far as Rinne will take them, something that’s he proven year after year. Would a more tested backup ease the pressure that Rinne’s facing and give the Predators a “Plan B” who can eat more starts? In theory, it makes sense. But even then, it would still be Rinne’s team.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talk of the Preds pursuing a goalie was merely a couple of pundits making the suggestion they could use a better backup. GM David Poile recently said he’d be watching the market to add another scoring winger.
Burrow denies he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Vancouver Canucks winger Alex Burrows denied speculation suggesting he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause if asked by management to do so. “I’ve never talked to management or coaches about it or to teammates. Last time I talked to my agent was to wish him Merry Christmas,” said Burrows. “The deadline is in two weeks and you might try to get a rumour out there and see what happens.Sometimes the media has it right and sometimes wrong,”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma points out it’s still possible Canucks GM Jim Benning approaches Burrows about waiving his clause, but it appears the recent reports were premature.