Latest on the Canadiens, Avalanche and Stars – December 9, 2016
Latest on the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche & Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN MONTREAL 690: Darren Dreger commented on the limited trade possibilities facing Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin to address the absences of center Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais, who are both out 6-8 weeks with knee injuries. While Dreger believes Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal would be a good fit, he’s an unrestricted free agent. If the Coyotes trade him, they’ll want a good young prospect from the Habs.
Dreger said it doesn’t appear there’s been any high-level discussions between the two clubs over Hanzal. Dreger said Hanzal’s name is only attached to the Canadiens because pundits like himself think he’d be a good fit in Montreal. He also points out the difficulty in making impactful in-season trades.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports via Twitter that he doesn’t believe the Habs “have shown that much interest in Martin Hanzal so far this season… does that change now ? Don’t know…”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Dreger notes, Bergevin and his staff will try to ride this out for now. The Habs GM is probably looking around for an affordable short-term option, but he could find those pickings very slim. Hanzal might be a good fit with the Habs, but they could be unable or unwilling to meet whatever asking price the Coyotes set for him. Other clubs could also outbid Bergevin. Right now, the trade market is very quiet. If Hanzal gets traded, it’ll likely be near the March 1 trade deadline.
THE DENVER POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Terry Frei responded to a reader wondering when the struggling Colorado Avalanche will stop protecting their core players (Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, and Semyon Varlamov) and finally pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal to shake things up. Frei said Avs GM Joe Sakic won’t tip his hand, “but after all the commitment to those six — financial and otherwise — I don’t expect a deal anytime soon.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Avs miss the playoffs this season, I expect Sakic will shake up the roster. He won’t trade all of those core players, but guys like Varlamov, Landeskog or Duchene could hit the trade block next summer.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika reports the combination of injuries to speedy forwards Mattias Janmark and Alex Hemsky and losing veteran defensemen Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers and Kris Russell has forced the Dallas Stars to promote young players to replace them. That’s affecting the club’s dynamic compared to last season.
The fact the Stars have nine healthy defensemen could mean someone such as Patrik Nemeth or Jamie Oleksiak gets traded. He also notes that forwards such as Patrick Sharp appear to be nearing the end of their careers, which could create some fear among them. There’s also the opinion from many outsiders that the club’s goaltending needs improvement, making netminders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi wary of their futures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing key players to long-term injuries and watching others depart via free agency last summer definitely affected the Stars chemistry thus far. Many of those young replacements are still adjusting to the NHL pace. Their goaltending, meanwhile, needs an upgrade, but Lehtonen and Niemi carry expensive contracts that are difficult to move. GM Jim Nill will have his work cut out for him trying to address those issues.