Latest on the Canucks, Penguins, Oilers, Blues, Jets, Blue Jackets and more in your NHL rumor mill.
CANUCKS JOIN THE SELLERS.
THE VANCOUVER SUN: Iain MacIntyre reports Canucks GM Jim Benning is open for business as a seller leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, but will anyone buy what he’s selling? MacIntyre claims “Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington” and a couple of other clubs are interested in defenseman Dan Hamhuis, but he must first waive his no-movement clause. He also speculates the decline in winger Radim Vrbata’s production could hurt his trade value. “And of the group of seven on Benning’s trade list (Bartkowski, Vey, Adam Cracknell, Yannick Weber and minor-leaguers Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust and Ronalds Kenins), it’s possible nobody will be acquired by another team.”
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford has some suggestions for Benning leading up to deadline day, encouraging him not to be afraid to deal players for draft picks, consider trading goaltender Ryan Miller and winger Jannik Hansen, and to pick up some salary as an enticement to make some players more attractive in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamhuis will attract the most interest and perhaps the best return, but it all comes down to his willingness to waive his movement clause. I expect Vrbata will also be dealt for a second- or third-round pick. There’s not much of a market for goalies this years, especially for an aging starter carrying a $6 million annual cap hit. Hansen, however, will attract attention if Benning decides to shop him. Like Vrbata, he could bring back a second-round pick.
PENGUINS SEEK A DEFENSEMAN.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is in the market for a defenseman. Rutherford said he can add around $2 million at the trade deadline. He’s unwilling to move top prospects like goalie Matt Murray, winger Daniel Sprong or defenseman Derrick Pouliot at the deadline, and prefers hanging onto the second-round pick in this year’s draft that he received from Vancouver in the Brandon Sutter trade. Possible trade targets could include Calgary’s Kris Russell, Edmonton’s Justin Schultz or Vancouver’s Matt Bartkowski.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Seth Rorabaugh reports winger Sergei Plotnikov’s agent claims the Penguins have been shopping his client. If a trade is unavailable, Plotnikov could return to the KHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s been quite busy in the trade market this season and I expect he’ll make a move for a depth defenseman before the deadline on Monday. Wouldn’t surprise me if Plotnikov is part of the deal.
UPDATES ON THE OILERS.
TSN’S Ryan Rishaug reports Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz is among the blueline options the Penguins are considering as a potential replacement for the sidelined Ben Lovejoy. Rishaug also reports a trade of winger Teddy Purcell to the Los Angeles Kings remains a possibility.
Darren Dreger reports the Kings are mulling the possibility of acquiring Schultz and Purcell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schultz and/or Purcell could be dealt as earlier as today.
OTHER NOTABLE NHL RUMORS AND SPECULATION.
SPORTSNET: Jeff Simmons lists Carolina’s Eric Staal, Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker, Boston’s Loui Eriksson, Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, Columbus’ Scott Hartnell, Vancouver’s Radim Vrbata, Calgary’s Jiri Hudler, Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis, Calgary’s Kris Russell and Toronto’s James Reimer as the top players potentially available leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
STLTODAY.COM: Jeremy P. Rutherford reports Blues captain David Backes won’t be re-signed before the upcoming NHL trade deadline, but he also won’t be traded. Both sides agreed to let the season play out and see what transpires. “Backes possesses a full no-trade clause, but Armstrong said that he had no plans of dealing him even though the forward could sign elsewhere this offseason with no compensation coming back to the Blues.”
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Ed Tait wonders if Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has other moves planned before the upcoming trade deadline. Cheveldayoff shipped Andrew Ladd to Chicago on Thursday night. Tait wonders if defenseman Toby Enstrom could be a trade candidate, if not at the deadline then during the offseason. He also touched on the possibility of offering Jacob Trouba or Tyler Myers to the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic, but doubts the Jets will get into the bidding for suspended Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin. Indeed, Tait doesn’t expect the Jets will add any player at the deadline that could lessen their chances of winning the draft lottery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic won’t be moved by the Islanders this season and I don’t think the Jets are in the bidding for Drouin. Enstrom could be shopped in the offseason, as he’s got two more seasons at over $5 million per left on his contract plus a no-movement clause, making him tough to move at the deadline.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reports the Blue Jackets will be sellers again at the trade deadline, noting left wing Scott Hartnell and defenseman Fedor Tyutin continue to surface in the NHL rumor mill. Hartnell’s been linked to the Nashville Predators, but he must be willing to waive his no-trade clause. Portzline claims that when the Blue Jackets and Predators “were putting together the Johansen-Jones trade, they discussed a larger deal that would have included Hartnell” . As for Tyutin, he speculates Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay could be potential destinations. He said it’s unclear if there’s a market for center Gregory Campbell and right wing Rene Bourque, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Kerby Rychel gets traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hartnell would be a solid addition to a playoff club, but his cap hit ($4.75 million through 2018-19) and no-trade clause complicates a possible deadline deal. Not suggesting it can’t happen, but the Jackets could face absorbing part of his salary or taking back another club’s unwanted contract to make it happen. Same goes for Tyutin. I don’t expect there’s a market for Campbell or Bourque, but there could be for young Rychel, who surfaced several times this season in the rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox muses over the possibility of the Tampa Bay Lightning trading Jonathan Drouin after the Feb. 29 trade deadline but before the offseason. However, “players acquired in post-deadline trades are not eligible for the playoffs,” which wouldn’t help the Lightning’s efforts to add a defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting theory, but my guess is if Yzerman can’t move Drouin at the trade deadline, he’ll wait until the offseason to do so.