Latest on the Canadiens, Sabres & Islanders – February 10, 2017
The trade needs of the Montreal Canadiens, the Buffalo Sabres sell-high dilemma with Evander Kane and possible moves by the New York Islanders in your NHL rumor mill.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 he believes Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has been shopping around for help for his struggling club. The Canadiens need help at center, which explains why they’ve been linked to Arizona’s Martin Hanzal, Colorado’s Matt Duchene and Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle.
Dreger also said it’s widely known Bergevin is still seeking blueline depth despite the recent addition of Nikita Nesterov from the Lightning. He doesn’t think the Habs recent recall of big center Michael McCarron was done to showcase him for a trade, but rather to give him a second look. He also feels the Canadiens are only a piece or two away from being a prime Stanley Cup contender.
SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Canadiens are “going to be in for the biggest fish” in the trade market leading up to the March 1 deadline. He claims they’ve had conversations with Arizona regarding Hanzal but the asking price is McCarron, a first-rounder and another conditional draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fortunately for Bergevin, his team isn’t in any danger of falling out of playoff contention before the trade deadline, so he’s not feeling the pressure that he would if his club was on the postseason bubble. I believe he’ll wait until deadline day for the price to go down on the best available options and make his move then. I don’t see him landing Duchene because the Avalanche will likely wait until this summer for the trade market to open up.
That leaves Hanzal and Boyle, and I think the latter is the better option. He’s also a big-bodied forward (6’6″, 244 lbs), but unlike Hanzal doesn’t have a long history of injuries. Their point production is comparable (19), but the versatile Boyle can also skate on the wing and plays with more of a physical edge. He would also be more affordable to acquire and has considerably more playoff experience than Hanzal.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Sabres face a dilemma with left wing Evander Kane, who leads the league since Dec. 3 in even-strength goals with 14. He wonders if they’ll stick with Kane as a core player going forward or try to sell high near the trade deadline in hopes of landing a top-four defenseman. Harrington acknowledges Kane’s off-ice issues last summer, but GM Tim Murray said they’ve worked through that and continue to work with him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On talent alone and with only a year left on his contract, I think there would be serious interest in Kane near the trade deadline. Perhaps teams in need of scoring depth at left wing are keeping tabs on him. However, it’s the off-ice baggage that remains a serious sticking point.
NEWSDAY: In a recent mailbag segment, Arthur Staple said the only real rental player the New York Islanders have is goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who’d be on the trade block regardless of the club’s record. If they go into sell mode by the trade deadline, he doesn’t believe they’d get much back for forward Ryan Strome and doesn’t see teams beating down the door for pending UFA defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. He speculates blueliner Calvin de Haan could become expendable if the Isles see progress from Adam Pelech and believe Ryan Pulock can be a regular down the stretch.
Staple feels they have interest in Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene but the cost would be steep. He also doubts they’ll bring back Thomas Vanek for another go-around. He thinks GM Garth Snow would prefer adding someone to anchor their second-line scoring.
Staple also said he hasn’t heard anything about the Isles shopping blueliner Travis Hamonic, but feels it’s not a 100 percent no anymore. He doesn’t see Hamonic moved by the deadline but the offseason could be another story.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Isles maintain their current level of performance, Snow won’t be selling. Indeed, he could become a buyer, but he won’t overpay to do so.