NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2017
Latest on Shattenkirk, Duchene, Bishop, Iginla and more in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will pursue St. Louis Blues defenseman (and pending free agent) Kevin Shattenkirk as a rental player at the trade deadline. While the Leafs front office considers reaching the postseason a great learning experience for their young players, they don’t want to give up huge assets for a rental.
If Shattenkirk were signed beyond this season, perhaps it would be a different story. LeBrun recommends pursuing younger defensemen, such as Brandon Montour or Shea Theodore of the Anaheim Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It makes no sense for the Leafs to pursue a pending UFA such as Shattenkirk when there’s no certainty they can re-sign him. Even if they could re-sign him, it could cost upwards of $7 million annually to do so. I agree with LeBrun that they should look toward younger options on clubs that are loaded with young blueliners, such as Anaheim, Carolina and Minnesota.
Regarding Colorado’s Matt Duchene and Arizona’s Martin Hanzal and the Montreal Canadiens, LeBrun notes the Habs want to upgrade at center. They have spoken with Arizona about Hanzal but the asking price is sky high. The Canadiens could look at Duchene but if the price is crazy they won’t do it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not sold on Hanzal as the answer for the Habs’ depth at center. He’s not a high scorer and has a lengthy injury history. Duchene would be a great fit, but the Avs reportedly want a top-four defenseman, a first-round pick, a top prospect and perhaps more. I’ve seen some suggest Nathan Beaulieu in a package for Duchene, but I doubt that’ll interest Colorado GM Joe Sakic. He’s apparently in no hurry to move Duchene and could wait for better offers this summer.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports much of the St. Louis Blues’ trade talk centers upon defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. There’s also some chatter about center Patrik Berglund. The pair are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene took some heat for recently admitting to the Denver Post he’s open to the possibility of a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While he might be open to the notion, it’s important to note he hasn’t demanded a trade. And as Friedman notes, he’s being asked about this every day so what do you expect him to say? I give him credit for at least being honest.
He also reports there’s a growing sense the Tampa Bay Lightning are willing to move pending UFA goalie Ben Bishop. Offers are currently low and general manager Steve Yzerman isn’t biting.
Buffalo Sabres pending UFA blueliner Dmitry Kulikov could also be available before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kulikov missed half the season because of injuries. I think potentially interested clubs will want to wait and see how he performs throughout this month before looking into acquiring him.
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland could stand pat if his club is in playoff contention, but could explore the trade market if they fall further back. He doesn’t see his club being a buyer.
Friedman speculates former NHL head coaches Jack Capuano, Gerard Gallant Ken Hitchcock might get interviews with the Vegas Golden Knights. He also thinks Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller could also get an interview.
Friedman’s colleague Mike Johnston reports the Vegas Golden Knights can start making some deals on the March 1 trade deadline, provided team owner Bill Foley makes the final payment of his $500 million expansion fee on or before that date. The Golden Knights can’t acquire players who are active during this season, but they can acquire draft picks, unsigned draft choices or make deals associated with the expansion draft. General manager George McPhee can make trades where he agrees not to select a certain player in the expansion draft. He can also begin signing college or junior free agents on that date.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect we’ll see the Golden Knights swing a deal or two at the trade deadline, likely involving clubs that have players they’ll be forced to leave unprotected in the draft but are keen not to lose.
YAHOO SPORTS: Josh Cooper reports Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla indicated he’d like to go somewhere at the trade deadline where he’ll have a chance to play in the postseason. Iginla said he hasn’t really discuss this yet with Avalanche management but he understands that aging players with expiring contracts on non-playoff clubs usually get moved to contenders by the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With only 12 points in 48 games, the 39-year-old Iginla is having the worst season of his career. Still, he’s garnered enough respect around the league that perhaps a contender seeking experienced depth at right wing might consider him for a reasonable price.