Latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Jonathan Drouin, Jiri Hudler, Loui Eriksson and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from TSN’s “Insider Trading.”
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will remain atop the list of potential trade bait as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches if he doesn’t re-sign with the Jets. Among the teams interested in Byfuglien are the Los Angeles Kings, who would love to have him fill the gap on their blueline left by the departed Slava Voynov. LeBrun believes the Kings, who lack a first-round pick, could offer up players and prospects to entice the Jets. He also believes the Dallas Stars have interest.
Darren Dreger reports many NHL GMs consider the Jets as the primary domino to get the trade ball rolling, perhaps within the next two weeks. If they cannot re-sign Byfuglien and fellow UFA Andrew Ladd, both could be shopped.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reports talks have stepped up between the Jets and Byfuglien while negotiations with Ladd seemed to have cooled. That’s why I think for now it’s Ladd, rather than Byfuglien, who’s the most likely to be dealt. Of course, that could change over the next two-three weeks, depending on contract talks. In addition to the Kings and Stars, Byfuglien’s also been linked to the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers in recent trade speculation. I’m sure that list will grow if the Jets decide to deal him before Feb. 29.
Bob McKenzie reports there’s nothing on the table that would warrant the New York Islanders honoring defenseman Travis Hamonic’s request to be dealt to a Western Canadian team. If that changes between now and the deadline, it’s still a difficult trade to make. The Edmonton Oilers and perhaps the Winnipeg Jets (depending on what happens with Byfuglien and RFA Jacob Trouba) could be in the mix.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Isles GM Garth Snow reportedly wants a comparable blueliner in return. Unless he changes his mind, trading Hamonic won’t happen until this summer.
McKenzie claims it’s all quiet on the Jonathan Drouin trade front. Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman continues to make phone calls but there’s nothing imminent. Interest from the St. Louis Blues in Drouin seems to have cooled, though that doesn’t mean they’re not still in there with other teams.
Dreger claims there’s interest in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak. He also feels other players on short contracts, like forwards Shawn Matthias and P-A Parenteau, will likely be on the move.
LeBrun claims some teams have interest in Calgary Flames winger Jiri Hudler, but the Flames want to see if there’s a chance to reach the playoffs in the next couple of weeks. LeBrun doubts that happens and expects the pending UFA will get traded.
TSN 960 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT) Dreger also feels the St. Louis Blues remain a primary contender for Drouin. The Montreal Canadiens also have interest, but Dreger doubts the Lightning trade Drouin within their division.
Highlight’s from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also weighed in on the Byfuglien and Ladd contract speculation, believing the Jets want to re-sign the former but the sticking point remains contract term, while things seem to be at a standstill with Ladd.
There were reports claiming Drouin was demanding a top-six role with a new team, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, as he simply wants a fresh start elsewhere. Friedman also believes the Blues seem the most interested in Drouin, but they first want to see how left wing Jaden Schwartz performs when he finally returns from an ankle injury
The Anaheim Ducks are overflowing with defensemen. The Stars would like to add a blueliner, but it remains to be seen if GM Jim Nill pursues one. The Minnesota Wild still want to add a scorer, while the Calgary Flames control the goalie market. It remains to be seen what the Vancouver Canucks blueline will look like after the deadline.
Friedman suggests Flames winger Jiri Hudler might be a good fit for the Wild, though they prefer size too.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild are reportedly willing to move a defenseman (perhaps Jonas Brodin) for a scorer, but I don’t see them doing that for a rental player like Hudler. Perhaps for a winger that can stick with them beyond this season.
The Montreal Canadiens won’t make any short-term moves until they know when goalie Carey Price (sidelined by a suspected knee injury) will return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: . With the Habs in free fall, they’re not dealing from a position of strength anymore. Rather than quick-fix deals, maybe they should focus on cutting some dead wood and look toward rebuilding this summer. Price’s absence has exposed the Canadiens weaknesses, particularly at forward.
A few GMs expect the Washington Capitals to make one more big addition.
Latest on the Bruins and Blackhawks.
NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson said his 14-team trade list, which by the terms of his contract he must submit to management at the start of each season, remains unchanged. There’s growing speculation the Bruins could trade the pending UFA if he’s unsigned by the trade deadline. The Bruins have made a contract extension offer to his agent since Christmas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins, however, won’t just give Eriksson away simply to avoid losing him for nothing. They’ll need a return that helps them now and in the future, so a draft pick and a prospect won’t do. If they can’t find a suitable return, they’re better off retaining him for a playoff push.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Chris Hine reports there’s talk around the league the Blackhawks want to add a top-four defenseman or a top-six forward, preferably a left wing to skate alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. It appears they’re leaning more toward a forward to beef up their offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are third in scoring this season, but the bulk of that is coming from Patrick Kane’s line. GM Stan Bowman’s been busy in the trade market this season and could be again near the deadline.