NHL Rumor Mill – December 8, 2016
Latest on Ben Bishop, top-five rental players & more in your NHL rumor mill.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently listed five reasons the Tampa Bay Lightning should trade goaltender Ben Bishop now. Injuries to key players such as Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan, the club finding themselves in an unexpected dogfight for a playoff berth and Andrei Vasilevskiy being ready for the starter’s job topped the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this season, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he was willing to maintain his current goalie tandem for another run at the Stanley Cup next spring. Obviously, if issues arise that threatens those chances for a Cup run, Yzerman could reconsider. If he does, however, I expect he’ll be patient and see how the club performs in the coming weeks before deciding to pull the trigger on a Bishop deal.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen lists Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman, Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata, “goalie to be named later” (Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Vancouver’s Ryan Miller, Islanders Thomas Greiss or Philadelphia’s Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth) and Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla as this season’s top-five rental players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanzal and Vrbata could be moved if they’re unwilling to accept short-term deals from the Coyotes. Wideman is a goner if the Flames are out of playoff contention by the March 1 trade deadline. Bishop and Greiss could move, but the Canucks seem intent to re-sign Miller. Mason’s play has significantly improved of late, contributing to the Flyers climb up the Eastern Conference standings. They could keep him and Neuvirth for the remainder of the season. Iglina will likely be shopped.
SPORTSNET: If the struggling Colorado Avalanche decide to shake things up with a trade this season, Elliotte Friedman believes goaltender Semyon Varlamov is an obvious trade candidate, as his hold on the starter’s job is tenuous. The Avs are looking to add defensemen. Center Nathan MacKinnon isn’t going anywhere. Forwards Gabriel Landeksog and Matt Duchene have “great value contracts”, which increases the asking price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Varlamov, Landeskog or Duchene during the season could prove difficult because of their contracts. Such moves could wait until the offseason.
Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden said a possible decision to re-sign goaltender Ryan Miller won’t take place until next summer. Friedman wonders what the Anaheim Ducks might do to sweeten a Miller for Jonathan Bernier deal. Like Miller, Bernier’s contract expires next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: By the sound of things, the Canucks probably won’t be interested in that swap. Unless the Ducks are willing to toss in a young defenseman like Shea Theodore (which they won’t), I don’t see this deal happening. Bernier may be younger but isn’t a significant upgrade over Miller.
Despite the solid play this season of centers Alexander Wennberg and William Karlsson, Friedman wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets might take a look at Arizona Coyotes pending UFA center Martin Hanzal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend upon where the Jackets are in the standings if Hanzal gets dangled before the trade deadline. If they’re still in playoff contention, maybe they’ll take a look at it. However, they won’t be the only club interested in Hanzal by the deadline.
He wonders if Winnipeg Jets center Alex Burmistrov might be a suitable replacement for sidelined Montreal Canadiens center David Desharnais.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d also suggest Toronto Maple Leafs center Peter Holland. Won’t put up a lot of points but he will work hard and bring some energy to the Habs checking lines.
The Los Angeles Kings tried to trade winger Teddy Purcell($1.6 million cap hit) but couldn’t find any takers because of budget issues. The Kings didn’t want to take any salary back. Purcell recently cleared waivers and Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if a team pursued him later in the season when they can afford him.
Friedman expects some trade movement by the Dallas Stars this season, but doesn’t see them dealing defensemen John Klingberg, Julius Honka, Jordie Benn or Stephen Johns.
Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Hendricks could be a good fit with the Minnesota Wild, who are seeking fourth-line help, though the Oilers would have to keep part of his salary.
The New York Islanders strongly denied rumors claiming they were shopping prospect forward Joshua Ho-Sang.