Just because the NHL trade deadline has passed doesn’t mean the trade and free-agent speculation has ended. Check out the latest in your NHL Rumor Mill.
PROJECTED OFFSEASON MOVES.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun turned his sights on potential offseason moves by several NHL clubs.
For the right offer (preferably a top defenseman), the Edmonton Oilers might be willing to trade a top young forward like Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or even Taylor Hall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the trio, Hall would fetch the best return, but I don’t believe GM Peter Chiarelli wants to move him. Eberle has good chemistry with wunderkind Connor McDavid. That leaves Nugent-Hopkins as my pick as the most likely to be dealt.
LeBrun expects Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to be aggressive this summer in reshaping his club. He notes Alex Galchenyuk’s name came up in trade talk before the deadline, but the impression is that was other GMs, not Bergevin, brought up Galchenyuk’s name.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that’s the case, I may be wrong in my belief that Bergevin could be running out of patience with Galchenyuk. I think it would be a mistake to trade him. Indeed, under a different coach, I think Galchenyuk could blossom into a reliable scoring center.
The playoffs will dictate which moves St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong makes this summer. Captain David Backes is eligible for unrestricted free agency and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is a year out from UFA status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are a talented regular-season team that comes up short in the postseason. Another early playoff exit likely means bidding farewell to Backes and aggressively shopping Shattenkirk.
The Detroit Red Wings could try to move goalie Jimmy Howard this summer, especially if current starter Petr Mrazek is re-signed to a long-term extension. LeBrun wonders if they might keep Howard for another season or two if Mrazek is inked to a two-year bridge deal. If Howard is shopped, the Calgary Flames could be a trade option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Retaining the Mrazek-Howard tandem for another year or two also burns more time off the latter’s contract, which could make him easier to trade down the road. However, I think the Wings will try very hard to move Howard this summer, and the Flames could be among the destinations.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will be the team to watch this summer. In addition to Jonathan Drouin’s trade status and Steven Stamkos’ UFA eligibility, they’ve got several key players (Nikita Kucherov,Alex Killorn, J.T. Brown, Vladislav Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette, Jonathan Marchessault and Nikita Nesterov) due to become restricted free agents. Starting goalie Ben Bishop and top blueliner Victor Hedman are a year away from UFA status.
HIGHLIGHT’S FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “30 THOUGHTS.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if the Tampa Bay Lightning will attempt to toll Jonathan Drouin’s entry-level contract ahead a year because he left the team this season. “That’s legalese for saying the player’s entry-level deal should extend for another season because he left the team.” While the New York Islanders did it with goalie Evgeny Nabokov in 2011 when he refused to report after they claimed him off waivers, there’s no precedent in Drouin’s case because he’s played only the equivalent of half an NHL season. Could lead to a grievance and arbitration if the Lightning (or his potential new NHL team) try it.
Meanwhile, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman clarified his statement about Drouin being welcome to return this season, saying he meant returning to their AHL farm team.
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray admitted he attempted to acquire Drouin. The Lightning reportedly scouted Sens prospect Colin White. Some sources also suggest the Philadelphia Flyers could be interested in the suspended Bolts winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Lightning move Drouin between now and the end of the playoffs in mid-June, expect months of speculation over the young winger’s fate. There will be lots of interest in the youngster if Yzerman waits for the NHL Draft in June to peddle him. As for tolling Drouin’s contract, I’m guessing he would lose a grievance. An arbiter could see things differently.
Friedman notes there were trade rumors involving Oilers winger Nail Yakupov leading up to the trade deadline. While Yakupov has no complaints living in Edmonton and isn’t an issue when he’s skating on their top lines, Friedman suggest they could move him if they feel he’s not suited for a full-time role as a top-six winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I know some Oilers pundits and bloggers don’t want their club to give up on Yakupov, but I thik the young Russian winger will be part of GM Peter Chiarelli’s roster overhaul this summer.
Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal could be worth watching in the offseason. His current contract ($3.1 million cap hit, $3.5 million actual salary) expires at the end of next season, when he’ll be eligible for UFA status. Friedman speculates the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings or Washington Capitals may have inquired about Hanzal leading up to the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanzal’s a big two-way center who’s on pace for a 45-point performance this season. He’s also frequently injured and could seek more than the Coyotes are willing to pay to stay in Arizona. I wouldn’t be surprised if they listen to offers for him this summer. Best to peddle Hanzal while he’s still got some value.
Friedman claims the Chicago Blackhawks were annoyed and disappointed their attempt to acquire Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis fell through. The proposed deal eventually grew too complex, as it would’ve involved unwanted like Chicago’s Bryan Bickell and Vancouver’s Chris Higgins. He also goes through the reasons why a potential deal with the Stars fell through, citing the Canucks’ limited leverage and the fact the Calgary Flames were more ready to make a deal with the Stars regarding Kris Russell, who was eventually shipped to Dallas.
The Kings were apparently disappointed their efforts to land Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz from Edmonton before the trade deadline fell through.
While there may have been trade talks involving one of the Anaheim Ducks defensemen, there was nothing close to tempt GM Bob Murray.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had interest in Andrew Ladd but couldn’t match what Chicago offered to the Winnipeg Jets to get him.
The Boston Bruins apparently sought a first-round pick plus a strong player/prospect for Loui Eriksson before the deadline.
Nashville Predators GM David Poile didn’t make a move at the trade deadline because he didn’t want to block an immediate roster spot for promising forward Jimmy Vesey. Perhaps another reason was they couldn’t find any takers for Colin Wilson’s contract.