NHL Rumor Mill – January 27, 2017
Latest on the Coyotes and Lightning plus updates on Kevin Shattenkirk and Matt Duchene in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford reports Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka telling an Arizona sports radio station that the recent trade speculation regarding Coyotes captain Shane Doan is “a bit overblown.” Chayka said he’s taken calls about the 40-year-old Doan, but nothing’s imminent. Doan has said he could consider waiving his no-trade clause for the right situation.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports any team interested in Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata must deal with the $1.25 million in bonuses he’s entitled to if he ends up reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He’s also entitled to a $500K bonus for playing 30 games this season and could be in line for another if he scores 20 goals or 40 points. He already has 11 goals and 33 points this season. Morgan adds Coyotes management haven’t had any recent discussions with the Vrbata camp about trading him. He also wonders what Vrbata could fetch in return. While normally a player of his caliber could be worth a pick in the third- to fifth-round range, this isn’t a normal trade market this year.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Sarah McLellan reports Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone is trying to regain his form after undergoing knee surgery last year. Uncertainty over his future in Arizona could also be a factor. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July and has yet to have contract discussions with management. If the Coyotes decide to trade Stone, McLellan cites multiple sources claiming there’s a market for him.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 that he doesn’t fault Chayka for setting a high-asking price for center Martin Hanzal. He believes a team like the Montreal Canadiens could use a big center such as Hanzal. Dreger believes it’s more likely Hanzal is dealt by the March 1 trade deadline, but the asking price has to come down and he expects it will.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doan is looking for what he calls the perfect scenario to be moved. One assumes it’s to a Stanley Cup contender. However, not many of those are in the market for an aging right wing whose best seasons are behind him. Not saying Doan won’t attract interest, but there might not be a lot. Vrbata’s bonus clauses will certainly be a stumbling block in efforts to move him. Stone will be considered an affordable rental option, as his struggles this season hurts his trade value.
Chayka must lower his price if he hopes to move Hanzal by the deadline. The young GM must be careful, however, not to wait too long for the right deal or he could run out of time to find a suitable trade. He should remember what happened to New York Islanders GM Garth Snow at the 2014 NHL trade deadline. Snow waited too long in hopes of finding a club willing to pay a high price for Thomas Vanek. When that didn’t materialize, he was stuck accepting a much lesser return from the Montreal Canadiens.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs as the top-five trade destinations for St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The Rangers have depth in young forwards such as J.T. Miller to offer and the Oilers could perhaps dangle right wing Jordan Eberle. Larkin suggests perhaps a straight-up swap of Shattenkirk to the Lightning for goalie Ben Bishop. He also suggests the Bruins offer up a package of forward Ryan Spooner and perhaps a prospect such as Jakub Zboril, while the Leafs could offer up prospects or perhaps dangle left wing James van Riemsdyk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Blues need for depth at center, I believe the Rangers are the only suitable fit. They could offer up Miller or Derek Stepan (unlikely but possible) or Mika Zibanejad, who recently returned from a broken leg. The Rangers must fill the gap on the right side of their blueline and they’ve been linked to Shattenkirk in the rumor mill since last summer. Still, that move’s not a certainty. The Rangers are sitting comfortably in a playoff spot this season and could look at cheaper rental options at the deadline. They could bid wait and bid for Shattenkirk’s services this summer, rather than give up a good roster player to get him via trade.
THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla reports Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene is open to the notion of being traded. ““When I say open to it, I know it’s part of the business, and it’s something that might happen. I’m not hiding from it. I’m not running away. I’m not banging my head. I understand it’s part of what we deal with as pro athletes.” Duchene hasn’t requested a trade but is resigned to the fact it could happen. Kiszla suggests the Avs dangle the 26-year-old center to the Carolina Hurricanes for big 22-year-old blueliner (and Denver native) Jaccob Slavin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes seem the best fit for Duchene. They need scoring punch and the Avs need a top-four defenseman. The Hurricanes are loaded with good young blueliners and they have the cap space to absorb Duchene’s $6 million annual cap hit. Whether Hurricanes GM Ron Francis agrees, however, is another matter. So far, he’s given no indication if he’s in the market for a scorer.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Tom Jones believes the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning should stand pat at the trade deadline. He argues one bad season after three good ones is no reason to panic and gut the roster or fire the coach. He cites their core of good young players as one reason why the Bolts aren’t a team in decline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sometimes bad seasons happen. Injuries were certainly a factor this season for the Lightning, especially the loss of team captain Steven Stamkos. Still, the Bolts have over $60 million invested in 14 players next season, with Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat in need of big raises. If they’re out of contention by the deadline, they could consider trimming some salary by trying to move someone like Valtteri Filppula to free up cap space for the summer. They’ve already started by shipping defenseman Nikita Nesterov last night to the Montreal Canadiens for a minor leaguer and a draft pick.