NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2017
Latest on the Avalanche, Lightning and Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports there’s many moving part involved in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s trade scenarios. The next several weeks could determine if Lightning GM Steve Yzerman becomes a buyer or seller, plus it could determine the futures of several Lightning players.
A stagnant trade market and salary-cap limitations are hampering Yzerman’s efforts to improve his roster via trade. What’s available in the trade market could involve Yzerman sacrificing the long term for a quick fix, which he’s reluctant to do.
Smith believes the Lightning need to retain veteran goaltender Ben Bishop if they hope to reach the playoffs. He also notes the goalie market is “flooded”, with the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury potentially available, so the Bolts probably won’t get a significant return for Bishop.
Smith also notes the Lightning could find it difficult re-signing restricted free agents Jonathan Drouin, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. He doubts Drouin will be moved, but wonders if Yzerman might listen to offers for Johnson. Smith also notes the St. Louis Blues need depth at center and the Bolts need a top-four blueliner. He wonders if Valtteri Filppula will consider waiving his partial no-move clause if the Bolts are out of playoff contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some will suggest Yzerman offer up Bishop for Shattenkirk, but I’m not sure either club is keen to make such a short-term swap. Johnson would certainly attract considerable attention in the trade market, but I think Yzerman prefers to keep his core intact for this season. He could shop Filppula if the center is willing to accept a trade and he might bring in a rental defenseman, but I doubt he’ll land someone like Shattenkirk.
THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei believes Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic cannot fall into the trap of making an okay trade just for the sake of making a deal. Unless Sakic gets a great offer for center Matt Duchene and/or left wing Gabriel Landeskog, he should not move them. Frei feels Sakic will get good, but not great, offers for either player leading up to the March 1 trade deadline. He also doubts the expansion Vegas Golden Knights will be interested in oft-injured goaltender Semyon Varlamov in the offseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Base upon recent reports, Sakic’s set a high price for Duchene and Landeskog. The asking price for the latter, according to one report, is a top-level defenseman, a first-round pick and more. I think the Avs GM knows he’ll have to wait until this summer to get a big offer for either guy. I’ll be very surprised if he moves either guy for lesser returns at the deadline.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek’s recent performance suggests he’s snapping out of his first-half funk. If Mrazek continues playing well, St. James suggests the 25-year-old goalie might be in play if the Wings become sellers at the March 1 trade deadline. She notes promising Jared Coreau has played better than expected and points out Wings sidelined starter Jimmy Howard still has two years left on his contract and his $5.3 million cap hit could be hard to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting suggestion. However, I think Wings GM Ken Holland prefers exposing Howard in the expansion draft in hopes the Vegas Golden Knight select him and go into next season with Mrazek and Coreau. Still, if Holland gets a decent offer for Mrazek, perhaps he consider it.