NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2016
List of potential trade candidates, update on the Coyotes and the latest on Benoit Pouliot in your NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance compiles his “All-Trade-Candidates team,” consisting of Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and Winnipeg Jets blueliner Jacob Trouba, Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, Detroit Red Wings right wing Gustav Nyquist and Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk.
Custance speculates Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford will try to move Fleury well before the trade deadline for a return that bolsters his depth elsewhere in the roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Rutherford will push hard to move Fleury by late January or early February. But if the trade market remains stagnant, Rutherford could find suitors difficult to come by.
While the Blues aren’t in any hurry to move Shattenkirk, Custance believes they’ll do it for a deal that make sense and helps them win this season. Given the Jets’ high asking price for Trouba, Custance thinks moving the blueliner could take a while.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the past, Blues GM Doug Armstrong’s been unwilling to trade a pending UFA if he feels they’ll help his team in the playoffs. I doubt he’ll change his style now. I don’t believe he’ll get a significant offer for Shattenkirk before March 1. Trouba’s not going anywhere this season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Jets get some interesting offers in June.
The Avalanche need an impact defenseman and Duchene is the player who can fetch that type of return. Custance suggests the Carolina Hurricanes as a trade target, noting their depth in young defensemen.
Custance also believes the Leafs need help on their blueline and van Riemsdyk would make a good trade chip to address that issue. Ditto the Red Wings with Nyquist, as their depth at forward makes him expendable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Duchene, van Riemsdyk or Nyquist for an impact rearguard could be difficult to do this season. Such moves tend to take place in late-June or early-July. Sure, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators pulled off a swap of Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones last January, but those type of in-season hockey trades are rare.
FANRAG.COM: Chris Nichols cites the recent appearance of Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka on Edmonton’s 630 CHED regarding his options for pending unrestricted free agents such as Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata and Michael Stone. He claims Doan’s not going anywhere, but he’s also considering all options in addressing his club’s need for depth at center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the Coyotes pending UFAs, the only one who’s definitely not moving is Doan. The rest could hit the block before the March 1 trade deadline.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites a recent rant by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug on Jason Gregor’s radio show regarding the poor performance of Oilers winger Benoit Pouliot. Rishaug puts out some strong hints that Oilers management isn’t pleased with Pouliot’s play and have tried to move him for a year now. He doesn’t believe there’s a trade market for the winger and doubts Vegas will take him if he’s left exposed in next June’s expansion draft, citing his salary ($4 million annually) and poor offensive stats. Staples suggests the 6’3″, 200-pound Pouliot could turn things around if he plays a more physical game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pouliot’s been a disappointing underachiever his entire NHL career. Granted, he was hampered by injuries during his previous two seasons, but he’s apparently healthy this season. As Rishaug observes, the Oilers can’t even give this guy away now. I concur with Staples that Pouliot might turn things around by playing a more physical style, but that just doesn’t seem like something he’s capable of doing.