NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2016
Latest on Max Pacioretty, John Tavares, Ryan Strome and more in your NHL rumor mill.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Brendan Kelly believes Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin must improve the club’s depth at center. There’s not much available, with Arizona’s Martin Hanzal perhaps the best of the bunch. Kelly decides to daydream a little and suggests the notion of New York Islanders center John Tavares in a Habs jersey.
“There is all kinds of media chatter that the New York Islanders star is potentially on the trading block given the Isles’ mediocre start and for some reason — most likely the invention of the Loafs-obsessed Toronto hockey media mob — the Maple Leafs are most frequently mentioned as a potential destination for Tavares.” Kelly proposes offering up Max Pacioretty and someone else as a sweetener.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Kelly’s just engaging in a flight of fancy here. Tavares isn’t available. I haven’t seen or heard anything suggesting he’s on the trade block this season, just a lot of musings out of the Toronto media over whether the Isles’ struggles this season could give him second thoughts about re-signing with them.
If Tavares was available, Pacioretty would have to be the centerpiece of an offer, along with at least the Habs top prospect (Mikhail Sergachev), the Habs first-round pick in 2017 and another good young roster player. In other words, the asking price would far exceed what the Habs could comfortably afford. Anyway, the Isles would probably prefer Alex Galchenyuk, rather than Pacioretty, in the deal.
But why pay a king’s ransom for Tavares? Far better to wait until July 1, 2018, when teams can pursue him via free agency. Sure, the Habs could lose out in the bidding, but at least they wouldn’t be gutting the roster for a player who could depart in a year.
THE SCORE: Max Pacioretty is among six players “who should get ready to pack their bags”. The Habs need to stabilize their blueline beyond Shea Weber, while the emergence of Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Radulov makes Pacioretty expendable.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens must shore up their defensive depth, but they’re also struggling to score right now. Trading one of their few natural snipers to address that need doesn’t make sense right now. And while Pacioretty’s carrying a $4.5 million annual cap hit, that salary is still difficult to move at this time of the season, especially when 26 of the 30 NHL clubs carry $5 million or less in salary-cap space.
Other potential trade bait include Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (perhaps by flipping him to the Dallas Stars), Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal and Boston Bruins winger Ryan Spooner, while Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi should be sent to the AHL for the rest of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No real surprises here.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford recently noted New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome was recently a healthy scratch from two games. He asks if the Canucks should be interested, asking Canucks fans if they would do a Strome-for-Jake Virtanen swap. He also noted, however, Canucks GM Jim Benning recently said he doesn’t intend to trade Virtanen, who was demoted to their AHL affiliate in Utica over two weeks ago.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome’s been inconsistent, but he does have a 50-point season on his resume. Unlike Virtanen, he’s demonstrated that he can play decently at the NHL level. Then again, Strome’s recent struggles could be enough to scare off potential suitors.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion is working the phones seeking some forward depth after placing sidelined winger Bobby Ryan on injured reserve.