NHL Rumor Mill – November 22, 2016
Updates on Evander Kane and Jacob Trouba, plus the latest on the Chicago Blackhawks in your NHL rumor mill.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports Sabres left wing Evander Kane is aware of the trade rumors swirling about him, but he claims his focus is on scoring goals. The 25-year-old also insists he’s very happy playing in Buffalo. Harrington said the Sabres aren’t shopping Kane but were “certainly listening” when the Vancouver Canucks called, especially in the aftermath of an incident involving Kane at a Buffalo-area bar in June.
The Canucks, seeking scoring depth, were believed interested in the Vancouver-born Kane. Harrington notes the Sabres need blueline help and were “likely interested in 23-year-old Ben Hutton or former RIT standout Chris Tanev.”
He also claims the Sabres were in heavy trade talks over the weekend, “whether on Kane or perhaps that elusive addition to their defense.” Harrington also noted Canucks assistant GM John Weisbrod took in a recent game between the Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning, though he could’ve been headed to the Canucks farm team in Utica to check out prospect Jake Virtanen.
FANRAG: NHL analyst Bob McKenzie told TSN 1050 he still expects the Sabres to trade Kane this season. He believes there are teams besides the Canucks with interest in the embattled winger, though he cautions there’s no guarantee a deal will be consummated. McKenzie feels the Sabres are considering their options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Sabres GM Tim Murray won’t publicly admit it, I believe he’s trying hard to find someone to take Kane off his hands. However, he’s not dealing from a position of strength. Along with Kane’s off-ice baggage, he’s struggling to score and carries a $5.25 million annual cap hit through 2017-18. Sure, the Canucks are desperate to add a scorer, but it appears they’re not so desperate as to part with a quality defenseman to get him. If Kane’s performance improves, perhaps that improves his trade value, but I doubt Murray will get much in return.
FANRAG: McKenzie told TSN 690 that he doesn’t expect the Winnipeg Jets have plans to trade recently re-signed defenseman Jacob Trouba. “I don’t think it was one of those situations where Winnipeg was saying, ‘Okay, let’s get this guy signed. Let’s put a little distance between this, and then on our own time table here we’ll make a move,” said McKenzie. He goes on to suggest that this doesn’t mean Trouba will spend the rest of his career with the Jets. If they eventually trade the young defenseman, McKenzie believes they’ll want to ensure they still have a foundational piece on their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the Trouba signing earlier this month, there was some internet chatter suggesting this would be a “sign-and-trade” move, anticipating the blueliner would be dealt within weeks. At some point, the Jets and Trouba could part ways via trade. Maybe it happens as early as next summer. I don’t expect he’ll be shopped this season.
TSN.CA: Pierre LeBrun doubts the Chicago Blackhawks will be big dealers by the March 1 trade deadline. The Blackhawks have 10 picks in the 2017 NHL Draft, which will be held in Chicago. General manager Stan Bowman is reluctant to move those picks. The Blackhawks also have six first-year players on their roster this season, such as Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman,Tyler Motte and Vincent Hinostroza. They could help provide the Blackhawks with a late-season boost.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun acknowledges a major injury to a key player or a prolonged slump could change things by the deadline. Given how well the ‘Hawks are playing with those youngsters thus far, they won’t have any need to make a major deadline deal if their solid performances carry through this season.