NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2016
Updates on the Leafs plus the latest on Cam Fowler, Jimmy Howard and Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.
TODAY’S SLAPSHOT’s Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger telling TSN Radio 1050 on Nov. 10 that he hasn’t heard anything substantive on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ trade front. “I don’t get the sense that Toronto is in the heat of anything.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still early in the season and the Leafs have a respectable 15 points in 14 games, putting them only two points outside of a playoff berth. No reason to make a trade right now.
If the rebuilding Leafs remain in playoff contention by February, perhaps management will look at making a trade deadline deal or two to bolster the lineup. And if they’re well out of contention by the March 1 trade deadline, they could attempt to move pending UFAs such as Jhonas Enroth, Roman Polak, Matt Hunwick and Ben Smith.
Nichols also cites Dreger telling TSN Radio 690 on Nov. 10 that Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is not on the trade block.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: When the Ducks announced the re-signing of Hampus Lindholm, GM Bob Murray said he had no intention of trading Fowler. Perhaps he changes his mind later in the season if there’s a pressing need to address a roster weakness. For now, however, Fowler’s unavailable and could remain that way for the remainder of the season.
ESPN.COM: Responding to a reader’s questions regarding the Detroit Red Wings’ plans for their goalies this season, Craig Custance said GM Ken Holland remains content on keeping the current tandem of Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek intact. Custance also cites the difficulty of moving Howard’s $5.3 million annual cap hit. He also expresses doubt Howard could bring the Wings a good young defenseman in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Howard’s improve play this season, I don’t see the Wings moving him. His contract (which runs through 2018-19) is difficult to trade in-season, and with an expansion draft next June, they can simply leave him unprotected if they wish to shed his salary. Given the inconsistencies of both goalies, I think Holland prefers to retain Howard and Mrazek to spell each other off whenever one of them hits a cold streak.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough reports former New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk isn’t ruling out a possible return to the NHL. Doing so, however, could be difficult. Kovalchuk filed retirement papers with the NHL in order to break his contract with the Devils and return to Russia to play in the KHL.
Now 33, Kovalchuk would need the approval of every NHL team to return, plus he can only return to the Devils. His best option would be to wait until age 35, which is when his contract with the Devils would’ve expired, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Kovalchuk returning to the NHL for another two years, when he becomes eligible for NHL unrestricted free agent status, if at all.