NHL Rumor Mill – February 9, 2017
Latest on the Stars, Senators and Canadiens in your NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Dallas Stars’ strategy for the upcoming NHL trade deadline will depend upon their performance over the next three weeks. If the struggling Stars fail to gain ground in the playoff chase, they’ll have little choice but to start shopping some of their pending unrestricted free agents.
Topping the list is veteran winger Patrick Sharp, whose offensive skills and playoff experience could help any contender. Versatile forward Patrick Eaves, currently sidelined defenseman Johnny Oduya and winger Jiri Hudler could also hit the block.
LeBrun also reports the Stars have reportedly had preliminary discussions with the Pittsburgh Penguins about Marc-Andre Fleury, but there’s nothing imminent on that front.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika, responding to questions in a recent live chat, believes most Stars fans “would be happy if they gave up on the season, traded Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Patrick Eaves and whatever else they can use to get prospects and draft picks and then start fresh next season.”
Heika thinks the fans want a new head coach, two new goaltenders and for management to use the cap space cleared by cutting loose their UFAs to pursue a top-two defenseman. He also feels Sharp, Hudler and Lauri Korpikoski could attract interest at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are seven points away from the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. If they fail to gain ground in the next two weeks, GM Jim Nill will be selling. Sharp and Eaves would attract the most interest. Hudler really hurt his trade value with a middling performance last season with the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers. If Oduya’s still sidelined by month’s end, I doubt he’ll be dealt.
I’ve suggested before that Fleury to the Stars for Antti Niemi might make sense for both clubs. However, that depends upon Fleury’s willingness to move and if the Stars are on his list of preferred destinations.
Having topped the Western Conference standings in 2015-16, the Stars’ performance this season could spark some changes. Because the roster was walloped by injuries, I doubt head coach Lindy Ruff will bear the brunt of it. A goaltending change is a must. They cannot carry on with the ineffective tandem of Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. At least one of them must go, and the expansion draft might not take care of that for them. Landing a top-pairing defenseman won’t be easy.
OTTAWA SUN: Buried deep in this recent Don Brennan column is this little nugget regarding Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf: “It’s widely believed the Senators will protect Cody Ceci and Marc Methot along with Erik Karlsson, and ask Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-move with the thinking Las Vegas won’t touch the latter’s hefty contract.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Sens ask Phaneuf to do this and he accepts, don’t be so sure the Golden Knights won’t claim him. Yes, Phaneuf has four more seasons at $7 million annually left on his contract, but maybe the Golden Knights management would consider him a worthwhile selection.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma recently reports a Montreal Canadiens was in Vancouver watching Canucks winger Alex Burrows. Kuzma claims Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin loves the Quebec-born Burrows.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens need depth at center, not a past-his-prime agitating winger. Canucks GM Jim Benning said he wouldn’t asking his players carrying no-movement/no-trade clauses to waive them. Unless Burrows wants out, he won’t be going anywhere if Benning stands by his word.
**UPDATE** Kuzma also quoted Benning, who’s on a European scouting trip, saying “We’re going to see where we’re at.” He added that he’ll have individual conversations with those players at their agents, but he’s still hoping they can stay in the playoff chase.