Latest on Keith Yandle, Kyle Okposo, Andrew Ladd, Eric Staal and more in Part One of your NHL rumor mill. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S “AMA” ON REDDIT.

Could center Nazem Kadri be part of the Maple Leafs' deadline purge?

Could center Nazem Kadri be part of the Maple Leafs’ deadline purge?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman yesterday took part in a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) chat, and with the trade deadline less than a week away, several fans asked him about which players could be on the move and which teams could be swinging deals leading up to Feb.29. Among the highlights:

Friedman believes Vancouver Canucks right wing Radim Vrbata could be on the move, as could defenseman Dan Hamhuis and perhaps winger Jannik Hansen.

He believes the Montreal Canadiens are sellers and wonders if a team might make a pitch for forward Alex Galchenyuk. Unless they get back a comparative-aged player with term on his contract, they won’t move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens are inclined to move Galchenyuk, I think that’s a deal discussed in the days leading up to the NHL Draft in June, when there are more teams willing to talk trade and a better chance of getting a good return. 

While the Calgary Flames are still talking contract with pending UFA defenseman Kris Russell, it’s possible he could be moved by the deadline. The Flames could seek a long-term possibility in goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames might have to wait until the offseason to find a decent starting goalie.

Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray isn’t interested in acquiring rental players.

Friedman speculates there could be a bombshell deal no one expects. He wonders about Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba and Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri, adding he’d be “very curious to see Kadri in a STL uniform.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting blurb about Kadri. I get the sense his future with the Leafs isn’t assured right now. For the right offer, they could part with him. As for Trouba, the Jets hold the hammer. He’s coming out of his entry-level contract and has no leverage other than to threaten a holdout this fall. I don’t see him being dealt. 

He sees the LA Kings making impactful deals to acquire a forward and a defenseman.

LATEST ON THE RANGERS.

SPORTSNET 960 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Elliotte Friedman claims there’s no truth a rumor the New York Rangers could ship winger Chris Kreider to the Boston Bruins for right wing Loui Eriksson. He notes Kreider is a player who performs well in the postseason, and also doubts the Blueshirts will move defenseman Keith Yandle. Friedman wonders if the Rangers might take their chances with their current roster.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports multiple sources claim several teams are interested in Rangers blueliner Keith Yandle, including the Dallas Stars. However, league sources claim the Rangers are signalling Yandle’s not available. The 29-year-old rearguard stepped up in a big way during captain Ryan McDonagh’s injuries. The Rangers are 7-1-1 in their last nine games and 13-5-2 in their last 20 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  I can see the Rangers trying to bolster their lineup for the playoffs, but I don’t believe they’re moving Yandle or Kreider. 

 

BEST FITS FOR SIX NOTABLE NHL TRADE CANDIDATES.

USA TODAY:  Kevin Allen believes the Chicago Blackhawks are the best fit for Winnipeg Jets left wing Andrew Ladd, while the New York Rangers are the best fit for Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal. He believes the Florida Panthers could be the best destination for Arizona Coyotes winger Mikkel Boedker, the Dallas Stars for defenseman Dan Hamhuis, the St. Louis Blues for Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin and the Anaheim Ducks for Montreal Canadiens right wing Dale Weise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-thought-out piece by Allen, which also includes the potential stumbling blocks for those clubs if they hope to acquire those players. Of course, we don’t know for sure where those players could end up, but it’s still fun to speculate on their potential destinations.

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS AND HURRICANES

NEWSDAY:  Steven Marcus reports New York Islanders right wing (and pending UFA) Kyle Okposo won’t plead with management to remain an Islander. It’s possible the 27-year-old could be playing his final games with the Isles before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. To date, there’s been no reports of contract negotiations between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are a playoff club and Okposo’s one of their best players this season. Unless they’re getting a return that helps them now and in the future, Okposo won’t be dealt. As for his contract status, that could depend upon his performance down the stretch and in the playoffs. 

THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: Luke DeCock believes the moves Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis makes leading up to this trade deadline could define his tenure as their general manager. DeCock believes pending UFAs Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles should be dealt for the best possible returns. “The real challenge is whether Francis can get creative and craft a Jeff Skinner or Jordan Staal deal – neither will ever be more marketable, the way they’re playing – that clears their contracts off the books and would really allow Francis to make drastic changes.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Increasing Francis’ difficulty is the fact his club is jockeying for playoff contention. He could be facing pressure from ownership not to do anything that adversely affects their chances of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2009. We’ll find out soon enough what Francis has in mind.