NHL Rumor Mill – February 17, 2017
Latest on the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes and Senators plus an update on Marc-Andre Fleury and Kevin Shattenkirk in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN.CA: Pierre LeBrun reports the Ottawa Senators’ interest in Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene is pretty much dead unless the Avs lower their asking price. As long as they continue to seek multiple assets, including top prospects such as Thomas Chabot and Colin White, it’s a complete no-go for the Sens. He thinks the Sens will keep the line of communication open, but the Avs could wait until the offseason to move Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog. Darren Dreger reports the Avalanche could put Jarome Iginla, Mikhail Grigorenko and Patrick Wiercioch in play for the trade deadline.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reported on Wednesday that Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is willing to open his wallet if it’ll help GM Pierre Dorion bring in assets to improve the club. Speculation has linked the Sens to Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, but the asking price for both is steep.
Melnyk didn’t mention those players, but while willing to add to his club’s payroll, he doesn’t want it to be at the expense of blue-chip prospects Thomas Chabot and Colin White. “If they want Chabot or White, they can forget it. We’re going to be smart about it,” Melnyk said. “That’s what I’m afraid will happen, so we’re just going to stay to our plan and that’s not to give up our future.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wise decision by Melnyk and Dorion. Chabot and White are your future. Don’t needlessly sacrifice them for a quick fix this year.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin made it very clear he’s not prepared to sacrifice his future to pursue a player such as Duchene. Several team consider Duchene better as a winger rather than a center.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports the Canadiens recent coaching change (replacing Michel Therrien with Claude Julien) could be the biggest move Bergevin makes before the trade deadline. As for pursuing notable talent in the trade market, he said that’ll depend upon the price. He doesn’t intend to move a promising young player such as Mikhail Sergachev.
If Bergevin does go shopping, Engels speculates it could be for a rental forward such as Dallas’ Patrick Sharp, Arizona’s Martin Hanzal or Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle. Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya might also be a rental option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise that Bergevin’s unwilling to sacrifice his future for Duchene. It’s also difficult to swing such blockbuster moves in-season, especially at the trade deadline when the market is largely for playoff rental players.
TSN.CA: Pierre LeBrun reports the Carolina Hurricanes, like the Anaheim Ducks, are deep in young defensemen and are interesting interest from potential suitors leading up to the March 1 trade deadline. The notable 23-and-younger blueliners include Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Noah Hanifin and Ryan Murphy, while Haydn Fleury, Trevor Carrick and Jake Bean are in their system.
Hurricanes GM Ron Francis wouldn’t say if he’s willing to draw upon that depth to address other roster issues but didn’t dismiss the idea. LeBrun believes the Hurricanes “would potentially move a young defenseman, whether that’s an NHL player or prospect, if it netted them a front-line centre.”
LeBrun isn’t convinced the Hurricanes would part with that type of asset to land Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, as he only has two years remaining on his contract. Teammate Gabriel Landeskog is signed through 2020-21, but he’s a left wing. He recommends the Canes try to pry promising young center William Nylander away from the Toronto Maple Leafs, though he doesn’t expect they’re keen to move Nylander. “Then again, how does Toronto find that young, high-end defenseman over the next 5-6 months?,” he asks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For teams seeking promising young defensemen by the trade deadline, it’s down to the Ducks or Hurricanes. The Minnesota Wild have lots of blueline depth too, but GM Chuck Fletcher’s repeatedly said he’s not parting with any of it to bring in depth elsewhere at the deadline. I’ve repeatedly suggested Duchene or Landeskog could be a good fit with the Canes, though I concur with LeBrun that adding a scoring center is the priority. LeBrun does make a good about Duchene’s having limited term on his contract being a sticking point.
I think his suggestion about Nylander is worthwhile looking into, though for now it doesn’t sound like the Leafs will go that route. Still, by this summer, who knows? If the Hurricanes were to offer up, say, Slavin for Nylander, or the Ducks were to pitch a Shea Theodore or Brandon Montour for Nylander, I think the Leafs would seriously consider it.
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports he’s hearing the Calgary Flames still have interest in Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The Flames were linked to Fleury leading up to last year’s NHL draft but their interest ended after the Pens sought the Flames first-round pick (sixth overall) in return. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he’s open to moving Fleury but is also considering retaining him as insurance for the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s made it clear that it’s also up to Fleury. If he asks to be dealt before the deadline, the Penguins GM will try to accommodate him. Otherwise, he’ll address it in the offseason.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk remains in play despite the club’s recent improvement. Blues GM Doug Armstrong cannot allow Shattenkirk to depart for nothing via free agency this summer as he did last year with Troy Brouwer and David Backes. The asking price, however, is high.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK’s Chris Nichols cites TSN’s Darren Dreger saying the following about St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to NBCSN on Wednesday: “I can tell you the asking price for Shattenkirk, even as a rental, is incredibly high. It’s a prospect and a first.” Dreger adds, “”And that may have to also include a third piece” to land Shattenkirk depending on quality of prospect/pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A prospect and a first rounder is high for Shattenkirk, but with this year’s draft supposedly a weak one, perhaps it’s not that bad, especially if the acquiring club can re-sign him. Adding a third piece to that, however, could be a bridge too far.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Toronto Maple Leafs quietly placed sidelined players Nathan Horton, Joffrey Lupul and Stephane Robidas on long-term injured reserve earlier this season, giving them the flexibility to spend over the salary cap by $15 million if they wish to get active in the trade market before the deadline. Johnson suggests possible rental players such as forwards Brian Boyle, Martin Hanzal and Patrick Sharp, as well as defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Cody Franson as possible trade options, as well as Vancouver Canucks blueliner Erik Gudbranson or any young rearguard the Anaheim Ducks wish to part with.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Johnston isn’t saying the Leafs will target those players, he’s merely suggesting them as possible options. He also speculates they could use that space to take on another club’s unwanted contract along with a draft pick and a prospect to bolster their stockpile of assets. Still, the Leafs wouldn’t have made this move after carrying those three sidelined players all season unless they were planning to make a move. How significant it is remains to be seen.