NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2016
Updates on the Penguins, Canucks and Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford recently reported the watch on the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending is on. Long-time starter Marc-Andre Fleury was relegated to backup duty by Matt Murray, who backstopped the club to the Stanley Cup this past spring. Fleury, however, hopes to regain the starter’s job.
Fleury’s no-movement clause means the club would have to protect him in next June’s expansion draft while leaving Murray exposed. Halford doesn’t see that scenario unfolding and expects Fleury could be on the move before then. Prior to the Calgary Flames acquiring Brian Elliott in June, they reportedly expressed interest in Fleury. Halford speculates that door might not be fully closed if Elliott fails to pan out as their starting goalie. Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he’d like to start the season with Fleury and Murray as his tandem.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Halford points out, Rutherford didn’t say anything about that tandem remaining intact by season’s end. Rutherford could play out the season with Fleury and Murray to see how things unfolds and then move one of them before the expansion draft. He could also swing a side deal with Las Vegas for future considerations to ensure they bypass Murray if he’s left unprotected in the draft.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning remains in the market for an impact left winger. While Benning is hopeful Sven Baertschi or Anton Rodin can step up and fill that role on the second line, Kuzma said he is still talking to teams.
Such a move, however, could cost them promising center Bo Hovat or defenseman Chris Tanev or a high draft pick, which is a non-starter. Buffalo Sabres left wing (and Vancouver native) Evander Kane has popped up in this summer’s rumor mill, but his off-ice issues are a red flag. Benning is also expected to extend professional tryout offers before training camp opens in three weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this stage, I expect Benning will evaluate Baertschi and Rodin in training camp and preseason play before deciding if he needs to pursue a trade. Even then, the asking price could be more than he wants to part with.
If the Sabres are shopping Kane, they probably won’t want much in return. Given his recent issues and decline in production, however, he could be an expensive gamble for the Canucks. Benning could be waiting a while before finding a deal he likes this season.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports the stalled contract talks between the Coyotes and restricted free agent forward Tobias Rieder has given rise to speculation he could be traded. League sources, however, claim there’s no chance the Coyotes will trade Rieder. “That would leave Rieder with three options: re-sign with the Coyotes, play in Europe this season or sit out the season,” writes Morgan, who also notes RFAs must be under contract by Dec. 1 or become ineligible to play the remainder of the season.