NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2016
Latest on James van Riemsdyk, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jannik Hansen and Patrik Nemeth in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL trade market is currently frozen because so many teams have so little salary-cap room, so many clubs remain in playoff contention and the expansion draft is looming next June. He doubts any major moves are on the horizon this season.
If a significant player is moved, it could be Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk. With free agency a year away for the 27-year-old, the Leafs could be willing to move him for the right price. As Friedman puts it, teams with serious interest in the winger must be prepared to “ante up.” If the Leafs decide to add more young talent or a top-four defenseman, van Riemsdyk could fetch a quality return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should the Leafs shop van Riemsdyk, I see that move happening in the offseason, and I think they’ll use him to land a skilled top-four defenseman.
Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could try to add to his roster (perhaps a defenseman) for another run at the Stanley Cup this season. Friedman notes Rutherford rarely waits for the trade deadline to make such moves.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the most obvious trade chip, but the Pens GM must decide if they’re better with him on the roster to the end of the season. Friedman considers the Dallas Stars a perfect fit for Fleury. He also suggests offering Fleury to the Winnipeg Jets for blueliner Jacob Trouba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing in a defenseman means the cap-strapped Penguins must shed salary. Trading Fleury and his $5.75 million annual cap hit will do the trick. I consider Dallas the only suitable destination right now, with the Pens taking back Antti Niemi ($4.5 million).
That moves frees up over $1.2 million in cap space for the Pens, providing some room to squeeze an affordable blueliner in at the trade deadline. Of course, this move depends upon Fleury and Niemi accepting the deal by waiving their no-trade clauses. Otherwise, the Stars will have to move Niemi or Kari Lehtonen in a separate deal with another club to take on Fleury. As for Winnipeg and Trouba, I don’t see that one happening.
VANCOUVER SUN: Jason Botchford considers Canucks speedy winger Jannik Hansen the club’s most marketable trade commodity and feels the time is right to move him. However, Botchford is skeptical Canucks management can be convinced of that. He points out management seems in limbo, unwilling to make deals for a playoff push but also loath to make a rebuilding move by shipping out a veteran for draft picks and prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hansen also has a full no-trade clause. Canucks GM Jim Benning recently said he wouldn’t approach any of his players carrying such clauses about waiving them unless the player asks first. In other words, unless Hansen requests a trade, Benning’s not moving him.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika believes the Dallas Stars should trade defenseman Patrik Nemeth. He feels they have sufficient defensive depth in their system. Moving Nemeth would not only improve his mindset, but also that of fellow blueliners Jamie Oleksiak and Stephen Johns. It would also allow the Stars to carry two extra forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heika speculates that possible trades by the Stars could be determined by where they are early in the New Year. Whether Nemeth becomes trade bait remains to be seen.