Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 29, 2017
Latest on the Lightning, Bruins, Sabres and Islanders in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith speculates the Lightning’s trade of defenseman Nikita Nesterov last week to the Montreal Canadiens could be the start of moves by general manager Steve Yzerman to prepare for the June expansion draft and the club’s upcoming salary-cap crunch. If the Lightning face missing the playoffs, a trade of pending free-agent goaltender Ben Bishop before the March 1 deadline could be worth considering. Smith also suggests it could be worthwhile listening to offers for center Tyler Johnson if the Bolts feel they cannot afford to re-sign Johnson and fellow restricted free agents Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Smith, I don’t expect Yzerman to blow up his roster if the Bolts are out of contention by the deadline. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he entertains offers for Bishop. I can see him trying to peddle center Valtteri Filppula to free up some salary-cap room and to protect another player from the expansion draft. I don’t think he’s keen to move Johnson, but if he goes that route I expect it’ll happen in the offseason.
CSNNE.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty doesn’t see the Boston Bruins being a major buyer or seller at the trade deadline, noting they don’t want to trade their young pieces while most of their core players, such as David Krejci, don’t want to move. He believes the Bruins won’t get a true No. 1 defenseman unless they’re willing to give up a promising young asset such as Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy. He also rejects the notion the New York Islanders will trade center John Tavares, let alone that the Bruins should pursue him.
Haggerty also said the Bruins currently don’t have a plan to acquire an experienced backup goaltender. Haggerty also feels GM Don Sweeney is “a bit overmatched” wheeling and dealing with his fellow general managers. He also doesn’t think it’s clear head coach Claude Julien won’t be fired this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The biggest move the Bruins might make by the deadline is a coaching change. Even then, I don’t think that’s the right course of action. Julien shouldn’t be made the scapegoat for the Bruins’ depleted roster. If they make any significant moves, such as pursuing Shattenkirk, they’ll likely wait for the offseason.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington wonders what the Toronto Maple Leafs “will do about making a move on St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk.” He also notes the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings have scouted each other of late, suggesting the Kings could use someone like Sabres winger Evander Kane.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s performance has improved in recent weeks, putting him within range of 30 goals this season. Perhaps he might thrive under a no-nonsense coach such as Darryl Sutter. The Kings will have over $6 million in prorated salary-cap space by the trade deadline (over $12 million if Jonathan Quick remains on LTIR), so they can afford to take on Kane’s $5.25 million cap hit for this season and next. However, the Kings must also ensure they have sufficient cap space to re-sign RFAs Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observes the New York Islanders improved performance of late. He wonders if GM Garth Snow might acquire Detroit Red Wings winger (and former Islander) Thomas Vanek as a playoff rental.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles are within five points of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. If they continue to improve, perhaps Snow will become a buyer. Remains to be seen if he’ll go after Vanek, who could be re-signed by the Red Wings.