Updates the Jets, Oilers, Maple Leafs and Bruins in part two of today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON LADD AND TROUBA.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen reports Jets captain Andrew Ladd expects to be dealt by the Feb. 29 trade deadline. He’s been unable to reach terms on a new contract with the Jets, leaving him seeing the writing on the wall in terms of his future.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Paul Wiecek believes trading Ladd will signal the Jets are heading back to the drawing board as they sink in the NHL standings. Media consensus suggests Ladd could fetch a first-round pick and maybe a prospect or a player. Wiecek also wonders what Ladd’s possible departure could mean for veterans like Toby Enstrom, Ondrej Pavelec, Mark Stuart and Bryan Little.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rob Ogden reports Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman took in the Dallas Stars vs Winnipeg Jets game last night. Bowman is believed seeking depth at right wing and is rumored to have interest in Ladd. The Florida Panthers could also have their eye on the Jets captain.
TSN 1040 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Darren Dreger reports the notion of the Jets sending defenseman Jacob Trouba to the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic remains a possibility. The Jets remain “a little unsure” over what type of defenseman they have in Trouba and are concerned about his contract is going to look like. However, he considers such a move a long shot for the trade deadline, suggesting that could be an offseason option if it’s still there.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a last-minute breakthrough in contract talks, Ladd’s a goner by the deadline. The Panthers could be the likely landing spot because of their depth in promising forwards they can offer up as part of the return. As for Trouba, the Jets will wait until this summer to sort that out. Trouba is coming off an entry-level deal so the only leverage he has is to threaten a contact holdout, which rarely works in the player’s favor in today’s salary-cap world. If they do move Trouba, it’ll be in the offseason.
BIG CHANGES COULD BE COMING FOR THE OILERS.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Robert Tychkowski reports Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is open to the notion of moving a high-salaried forward like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. While he doubts such a move will happen at the trade deadline, he suggests it could be an offseason possibility. “Anything is possible, but I can tell you I’m not really looking at that type of deal now. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be looking at that for the spring and summer,” said Chiarelli. Tychkowski suggests disappointing players like Justin Schultz and Nail Yakuov are obviously in play, noting the Oilers’ obvious needs are “defense, size and grit.”
TSN: reports Justin Schultz and Teddy Purcell head the list of Oilers who could be on the move by the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those high-salaried Oilers, my guess is Nugent-Hopkins is most likely to go, followed by Eberle. Despite this crappy season, Hall’s among the NHL’s top-15 scorers. Indeed, he’s only a couple of points out of the top 10. While Hall would certainly attract a top defenseman, his departure would also leave a massive hole at left wing. Eberle has solid chemistry with Connor McDavid, so there might be a reluctance to move him. That leaves Nugent-Hopkins as the most expendable of the trio. There’s no doubt Schultz is done in Edmonton, and I can see Yakupov on the move this summer, perhaps packaged with RNH for a top-two defenseman. Purcell will be gone at the deadline.
LATEST LEAFS RUMORS.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports the St. Louis Blues weren’t among the 20 scouts from 19 teams (two from the LA Kings) watching last night’s game between the Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs, which could mean there’s nothing to recent rumors suggesting the Blues could be interested in Leafs center Nazem Kadri. There’s talk of goaltender James Reimer heading to St. Louis as a short-term replacement for sidelined netminder Brian Elliott. The San Jose Sharks would be a better fit, as backup Alex Stalock is struggling this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri isn’t going to the Blues this season. Given the Leafs current fire-sale mentality, however, we can’t fully dismiss the possibility he’ll be dealt at the deadline. Same goes for Reimer.
BRUINS GM SWEENEY FACING DIFFICULT DECISIONS.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is under a great deal of pressure to get a good return for right wing Loui Eriksson if unable to re-sign him before the trade deadline. Haggerty claims the Bruins are working on packaging Eriksson with one of their first-round picks in this year’s draft and a prospect (perhaps Alex Khokhlachev) to add a much-needed young defenseman. He notes Anaheim, Minnesota and St. Louis need scoring depth and have depth on defense like Sami Vatanen, Matt Dumba and Kevin Shattenkirk who would instantly bolster the Bruins blueline. Haggerty also claims there’s rumors Sweeney could be working on multiple deals leading up to the trade deadline, “bringing in a defenseman, perhaps dealing for an Eriksson-esque replacement in the short term and upgrading a fourth line that could use a little more size, strength and snarl.” He believes Sweeney risks demoralizing his players if he can’t execute those potential moves and just tries dealing Eriksson for the best deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney might not have any choice if he doesn’t want to lose Eriksson for nothing to free agency. He’s not really dealing from a position of strength. Everyone knows Eriksson’s value to the Bruins and his contract status. While teams will be interested, it’s not easy to pull off the kind of swaps Sweeney made last summer at the trade deadline. The Ducks and Wild have signaled they’re not interested in adding expensive rental players, and with both clubs improving of late, there’s certainly less urgency on their part to bolster their offense. Vatanen and Dumba probably aren’t available now, and I’ll be shocked if the Blues part with Shattenkirk while Alex Pietrangelo remains sidelined with a knee injury.