NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2017
Latest on Matt Duchene and Kevin Shattenkirk plus updates on the Lightning, Blackhawks and Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN.CA: Pierre LeBrun reports Nashville Predators general manager David Poile has made a couple of inquiries into the availability of Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, though it hasn’t progressed past that. With the Preds finally showing some chemistry after two blockbuster moves (Johansen for Jones, Subban for Weber) last year, LeBrun wonders if Poile wants to make another impact move that could adversely affect that chemistry or is Duchene a player that he thinks can help them.
Darren Dreger also speculates interest in Duchene could increase if he requests a trade, citing the Predators, Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues are in that mix of clubs seeking help at forward. Dreger also told Montreal’s TSN 690 (via Chris Nichols of FanRag Sports Network) that he knows the Montreal Canadiens have interest in the Avs center, but considers it unlikely they’ll pay the Avs’ enormous asking price to get him at the trade deadline.
SPORTSNET’S Elliotte Friedman assumes the Canadiens are among the clubs looking at Duchene and teammate Gabriel Landeskog. He also believes the New York Islanders have some interest in Duchene and suggests the Carolina Hurricanes, with their depth in young defensemen, could be a good fit for what the Avalanche are trying to do.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have no doubt there’s genuine interest in Duchene and (to a lesser extent) Landeskog. But until the Avs lower their asking prices for both players, I doubt either guy gets moved before the trade deadline. At the minimum, they reportedly want at least a top-four defenseman, a first-round pick and a top prospect for Duchene, perhaps slightly less for Landeskog. I don’t see any playoff contenders paying that much.
ESPN.COM: LeBrun believes the Tampa Bay Lightning would move pending UFA goalie Ben Bishop at the trade deadline “for the right price,” but so far there’s not much interest. Perhaps that will change as this month progresses. LeBrun also feels the Lightning could trade for a defenseman regardless of where they are in the standings, noting it’s been a significant issue for a while now. Whether it’s the Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk if he goes on the market or one of the Anaheim Ducks’ young blueliner, LeBrun believes the Bolts will at least inquire. He notes the Blues haven’t yet shown they’re looking for an upgrade in goal.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 that Shattenkirk’s representatives deny their client’s preference is to join an Eastern Conference club. ” If there were a trade and sign extension scenario, he absolutely would look at it. And again, there’s a large number of teams – and teams that might surprise,” said Dreger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Shattenkirk is willing to re-sign with the Lightning, GM Steve Yzerman could be interested, but the cost of doing so could make it difficult to re-sign RFAs such as Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat. Pursuing one of the Ducks younger, more affordable rearguards could be a better way to go, but they’re likely to ask for a scoring winger in return.
The Blues might not be in the market right now for a goaltending upgrade, but that could change if Allen keeps struggling and they risk falling out of playoff contention. That’s when Shattenkirk might be used as a trade chip for a goalie, or he could be swapped for assets that could be part of a deal to bring in a netminder.
I also think Shattenkirk’s preference was to join an Eastern club, and it could still be if he opts to test the free-agent market in July. However, it seems he wants to keep his options open, especially if it’s for an opportunity to join a Cup contender or a club with a bright future where he might play a leadership role.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus reports Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that, unlike previous years, he’s not expecting to make a deal at this year’s trade deadline. Lazerus warns us to take that with a grain of salt, as Bowman has made similar statements in the past and subsequently made significant deadline deals. Limited salary-cap space, improvement of rookies such as Nick Schmaltz and Vinnie Hinostroza and league parity are factors that could make Bowman leery of swinging a big deal this year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the right deal comes along, Bowman will act, but he won’t make a deadline trade just for the sake of doing so. I expect he’ll keep his eyes on the market, but if he doesn’t find a suitable option, he could be content to stand pat this year.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough reports Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden said his club won’t be in the market for rental players at the deadline. “If there’s an opportunity…with a young player that we feel is an upgrade, we’ll certainly look at that. But there will be no situation where we’ll go and mortgage any future pieces to make a playoff push,” said Linden. He also acknowledged the expansion draft could force his club to consider trading a forward, as they don’t want to risk losing one for nothing. They currently have only three protected spots for forwards Brandon Sutter, Jannik Hansen, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sedins and Loui Eriksson carry no-movement clauses and must be protected unless they’re willing to waive them. I don’t see that happening. They’ll obviously protect Bo Horvat. I think Sutter or Hansen could become trade candidates in the offseason before the expansion draft, as Granlund and Baertschi have more upside. Let me know what you think, Canucks fans.