NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2017
Latest on the Sharks, Predators, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Blackhawks and Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Mark Purdy wonders what the future holds for long-time San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. The 37-year-old Marleau is on pace for 28 goals for the first time since 2014 and his resurgence combined with Joe Thornton’s steadiness could see general manager Doug Wilson consider re-signing both. If so, Purdy suggests Wilson waits until after the expansion draft to do so.
Despite Aaron Dell emerging as a good backup goaltender for the San Jose Sharks, Paul Gackle reports there’s rumors they’re shopping for an experienced backup. Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer deferred goaltending trade decisions to GM Doug Wilson, but said he told Wilson he has confidence in the 27-year-old Dell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to GJ Berg for the links. Marleau’s production significantly improved since early-January, vaulting him into a tie with Joe Pavelski for the second-most goals (20) on the Sharks this season and into fifth in points with 33. He’s also tied with Pavelski and Brent Burns for the lead in game-winning goals with five.
If Marleau can maintain this level of production over the remainder of the season and into the playoffs, it could earn him perhaps a one-year, bonus-laden deal with the Sharks, though the final total will be considerably less than the $6.6 million annual cap hit of his current contract.
As for Dell, he’s played quite well for the Sharks as Jones’ backup. I see no reason for them to go shopping for another. Yes, he lacks posteason experience, but NHL playoff history is rife with instances of inexperienced goalies rising to the occasion when needed. Besides, it’s unlikely he’ll have a chance to play a postseason contest this year if Jones is healthy and on his game.
THE TENNESSEAN: Joe Rexrode wonders if Nashville Predators GM David Poile has another big trade in him as the March 1 trade deadline approaches. Last January, Poile shipped defenseman Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen and last summer dealt defenseman Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for blueliner P.K. Subban. Rexrode believes the only apparent big-splash deal available is Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, but he doesn’t believe it’s worth parting with a top-four defenseman or mortgaging the club’s future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile reportedly contacted the Avs last month about Duchene, but I daresay that was simply due diligence on his part. The Avalanche set a very high price for Duchene (young top-four defenseman, first-round pick, top prospect and possibly more) and I doubt Poile’s willing to meet that demand this season. Perhaps he’ll revisit his interest this summer. If Poile makes a move at the deadline, I suspect he’ll seek an affordable rental player.
MLIVE.COM: Asked by a reader if pending UFA winger Thomas Vanek might re-sign with the Detroit Red Wings in the offseason even if dealt at the trade deadline, Ansar Khan doubts return this summer. He’ll want a multi-year deal and the Wings lack the cap space to give it to him, especially with younger players to re-sign over the next two years. While Vanek’s enjoyed his time with the Wings, Khan speculates he’d prefer signing with a Stanley Cup contender instead of a rebuilding team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 14 goals and 36 points in 44 games, Vanek will be among the most attractive trade-deadline rental targets. I’ll be very surprised if he’s still in a Red Wings jersey after 3 pm ET on March 1.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Responding to a reader’s question about possible trade targets for the Blackhawks, Mark Lazerus said they’re still in need of a top-six winger for center Jonathan Toews’ line and a bottom-pairing defenseman. He considers Dallas Stars forward Patrick Eaves as their best trade option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman insists he doesn’t expect to be a major player at the upcoming trade deadline. Given his dealing at previous deadlines of the recent past, few observers believe him. While he might not make a big splash, he could bring in an affordable depth player such as Eaves.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline believes the Blue Jackets will likely be shopping for depth, and not a high-end acquisition, at the March 1 trade deadline. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said if there’s a time down the road where they feel their window of opportunity to win a championship is closing, then they might consider it. “”I don’t see any reason to go crazy because we have a crack open in our window. We’re trying to widen it by making wise, long-term decisions, and get better from within,” said Kekalainen. He also pointed out that taking on a player with term left on his contract could mean exposing another player in the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation suggested the Jackets had some interest in Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle. If true, that gives us a good indication of what Kekalainen’s looking at heading toward the trade deadline.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests Vancouver Canucks pesky winger Alex Burrows would make sense for the New York Rangers as a playoff rental, providing some much-needed grit to their lineup. While Burrows carries a no-trade clause that limits where he can go, Brooks believes that could also make him an affordable acquisition.