NHL Rumor Mill – December 1, 2016
The Calgary Flames attempt to shut down the Dougie Hamilton trade rumors, plus updates on the Lightning and Canadiens.
TSN: Calgary Flames president Brian Burke blamed “an army of leakers” for what he considers unfounded trade rumors regarding Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton. He claims those engaging in such speculation have ““no goddamned idea what they’re talking about,” going to to blame an unnamed NHL general manager for starting the rumors in the first place.
Burke said one team did make an inquiry, called their offer “insulting” and rejected it. While acknowledging anyone can be traded, Burke insists his club isn’t shopping Hamilton and has no intention of trading him.
“We expended a tremendous amount of assets to get this player. We’re really happy with him, he’s a quality guy. He’s 6-foot-5, he weighs 237 pounds, he’s a right shot, skates like a deer – he’s a good hockey player. Yeah, let’s move him! Let’s get rid of him! It’s not hard to get guys like that.” – Brian Burke.
Hamilton, meanwhile, admits hearing all the rumors but isn’t putting stock into them. “It’s just the Toronto market,” he said. Recent speculation linked the Flames blueliner to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
CALGARY HERALD: Eric Francis echoes Burke’s criticism of the Hamilton rumors. He claims Flames management isn’t looking to shake things up, still believes in its young core and intends to stay the course. That means Hamilton will stay put and develop with the team.
TORONTO STAR: Despite the Flames’ denials, Bruce Arthur reports there are still several voices around the league insisting they could part with Hamilton for the right deal. Arthur also defends TSN analyst Bob McKenzie, who’s said the Flames were listening to offers, though he also added that didn’t mean they were going to trade the blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke has always been colorful, and usually his denials regarding trade chatter can be taken at face value. But in January 2012, when Burke was the Leafs GM, he denied a rumored deal claiming he would send defenseman Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for winger James van Riemsdyk, a deal that subsequently took place six months later. Stick tap to “Shticky” for the link.
I think there’s a kernel of truth in the Hamilton rumors. As the well-respected McKenzie stated, the Flames were listening to offers for Hamilton, but it doesn’t mean they intend to trade him. Any GM worth his salt listens to offers for their best players, because you never know when a rival club could get desperate enough to make an offer too good to refuse. Sure, those instances are rare, but they do happen.
Much of the “Hamilton-to-Toronto” speculation appeared to be the type of “thinking out loud” media chatter that took on a life of its own during a point in the season when genuine hockey trades are rare. Made for some interesting talk, but there’s probably nothing to it.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith recently reported the absence of injured defenseman Anton Stralman spotlights the LIghtning’s need to boost their blueline depth. The Bolts are struggling in Stralman’s absence, but even when he returns, Smith feels they need to add more depth to their defense. He noted TSN’s Craig Button pointed out the Lightning “don’t have a really good No. 2 (defenseman) or a really good No. 4.”
Smith felt it’s not something that can be addressed as simply as trading goalie Ben Bishop at the trade deadline, though he admitted it could come to that. However, that would leave the Bolts in need of a reliable backup for Andrei Vasilevskiy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have plenty of time to address this need between now and March 1, but this is an issue that bears watching. GM Steve Yzerman isn’t one for knee-jerk trades and his preference is to retain Bishop for another playoff run, even at the risk of losing him next summer to free agency.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols recently cited NHL analyst Darren Dreger told Montreal’s TSN 690 he’s been told by managers around the league that Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin isn’t kicking down doors looking for players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For several weeks, there’s been some talk of Bergevin looking to add a top-four defenseman and perhaps a center. Some of that talk linked the Habs to Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. Bergevin does has a history of making early-season moves, but nearly two months into this campaign, he’s yet to pull the trigger. That doesn’t mean the Habs GM won’t make any significant moves this season. If he does, I anticipate those deals will take place closer to the March 1 trade deadline.