NHL Rumor Mill – February 3, 2017
Another list of trade candidates plus the latest on the Avalanche, Blues & Canadian teams in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla and Detroit Red Wings left wing Thomas Vanek top Mike Johnston’s list of this year’s top 20 players who could be moved by the March 1 trade deadline. Arizona Coyotes forwards Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata, Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Coyotes blueliner Michael Stone round out the top 10.
Dallas Stars winger Patrick Sharp, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, Winnipeg Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson, Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, Coyotes right wing Shane Doan, Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, New York Islanders defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, Blues center Patrik Berglund, Wings forward Tomas Jurco and Isles forward Ryan Strome fill out the list from 11 through 20.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the usual suspects are here. Of these, Shattenkirk, Iginla, Vanek, Hanzal, Vrbata, Fleury, Stone, Sharp, Bishop,Seidenberg, Berglund and Jurco could move. The Avs reportedly see too much for Duchene ($6 million annual salary-cap hit) and Landeskog ($5.5 million per season), whose contracts are difficult to move in-season. Filppula ($5 million cap hit through 2017-18), modified no-trade clause) is also tough to move. I don’t see much of a market for Hutchinson, who’s struggled this season. Doan might accept a trade, but there’s no certainty he will. The Isles could remain patient with Strome and see how he performs over the remainder of this season.
TORONTO SUN: Mike Zeisberger and several of his PostMedia colleagues examined the trade possibilities for Canada’s seven NHL teams. The Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers are considered buyers, as are the Calgary Flames if they remain in the wild-card chase. The Toronto Maple Leafs could be buyers or sellers, the Winnipeg Jets are mostly sellers and the Vancouver Canucks are expected to stand pat.
The Canadiens are in the market for depth at center and have been lined to Arizona’s Martin Hanzal and Colorado’s Matt Duchene. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is listed among their potential trade chips. The Senators could look for more forward depth and reportedly kicked tires on Hanzal, Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. They could dangle goalie Andrew Hammond and forwards Curtis Lazar and Nick Paul.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Coyotes seek a more reasonable return for Hanzal besides a top prospect and a first-round pick, the Habs or Sens might consider it. Same goes for the hefty price tag the Avs set on Duchene. More on that below.
The Leafs want to win but not at the expense of mortgaging the future. They’ve been linked to St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Forwards James van Riemsdyk and William Nylander have popped up in trade rumors. If the Jets go into sell mode, they could shed players on expiring contracts like Ondrej Pavelec and Drew Stafford.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Leafs passing on Shattenkirk and looking for more affordable blueline options near the trade deadline. I don’t believe they’ll part with van Riemsdyk and Nylander. If the Jets don’t gain ground in the standings by March 1, the purge of pending UFAs will begin.
The Flames need help in goal and a second-pairing defenseman to skate with T.J. Brodie. They’ve also been linked to Hanzal. Trade chips could include Deryk Engelland, Dennis Wideman and maybe Brian Elliott. The Oilers need a third-line center and a quality backup for starting goalie Cam Talbot. As for the Canucks, if they make a move at all it’ll be a straightforward hockey trade (player for player).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Oilers will be busy near this year’s deadline as buyers. They’re a playoff club and Chiarelli has a history of swinging deals near the trade deadline. The Flames could go either way, buyers or sellers. I also believe the Canucks will stand pat.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports there’s no firm offer on the table for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. It’s believed the Avs seek three or four high-end pieces in return for Duchene. If it’s three, they seek a young (20-to-24 years old), established high-end player along with a first-round pick and a top prospect. If a young player isn’t available, the price goes up for those four pieces.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those high prices are why I don’t see Duchene being moved before the March 1 trade deadline. Such moves are rare during the season.
Darren Dreger speculates the Montreal Canadiens could have interest in Duchene or Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. They like the 6-foot-6 Hanzal to fill that second-line center role, allowing them to move Alex Galchenyuk to the wing. Pierre LeBrun reports 10 teams are interested in Hanzal, who’s a pending free agent, and the Coyotes are narrowing that list down.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanzal has size and two-way skills but he’s not a high scorer and has a long injury history. Buyer beware.
LeBrun also reports several teams, including the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, have called the St. Louis Blues about defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. All the calls so far are in picking up Shattenkirk as a rental player, rather than a sign-and-trade that could cost up to $7 million per season. Dreger said the reality is most teams have him ranked as a second-pairing defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk is a good puck-moving defenseman, but as Dreger points out, teams are leery of overpaying long term for a second-pairing blueliner. I’ll be very surprised if a sign-and-trade scenario involving Shattenkirk takes place before the March 1 deadline.
McKenzie reports the Avalanche are also flush with potential rental players such as Rene Bourque and John Mitchell.
Dreger reports teams are calling the Ottawa Senators about young forward Curtis Lazar, who’s still on his entry-level contract. The Sens are listening but they don’t want to give up on Lazar just yet.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites LeBrun telling Montreal’s TSN 690 that the Buffalo Sabres could be well-positioned to benefit from the Shattenkirk sweepstakes. He suggests the Sabres could try to peddle pending UFA blueliner Dmitry Kulikov on deadline day to one of the clubs that fail to land Shattenkirk.
Nichols also cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Edmonton’s 630 CHED that there are teams that could be willing to use their first-round picks in this year’s draft, perhaps even some with picks among the top-10 in the draft, as trade bait to land Shattenkirk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 2017 NHL draft reportedly isn’t as deep as recent ones, which might explain why some teams could dangle their first-round picks. I think the Sabres could find some interest in Kulikov. He’s recently returned from a back injury, so those clubs might want to watch his performance throughout this month to ensure he’s fully recovered.