NHL Rumor Mill – March 29, 2017
Latest on the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche in your NHL rumor mill.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Harvey Fialkov reports Florida Panthers coach Tom Rowe said under-performing players on his club with long-term contracts could be traded in the offseason. Rowe made his remarks following the Panthers’ disappointing 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rowe didn’t single anyone out, but his comments could spark considerable season-ending speculation over which players could hit the trade block come June.
Panthers on long-term deals include forwards Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trochek, Nick Bjugstad, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Huberdeau, defensemen Aaron Ekblad, Jason Demers and Keith Yandle and goaltenders Roberto Luongo and James Reimer.
Of these Barkov, Huberdeau, Bjugstad, Ekblad and Luongo were all hampered/sidelined by injuries this season. Trochek’s their leading scorer and among their more consistent players.
Smith is having a disappointing season and could be among those Rowe was referring to as a possible trade candidate. Demers and Yandle were brought in to bolster the Panthers defense. However, Florida remains among the league’s worst defensive teams. Perhaps one of them could hit the trade block.
Reimer is seen as Luongo’s successor. He’s been decent (2.60 GAA, .917 SP) but I don’t think he’s performing to the level the Panthers expected of him.
THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei recently cast doubt over the possibility of the Colorado Avalanche finding any takers for oft-injured goaltender Semyon Valamov, especially with him carrying two more years on his contract at $5.9 million per season. He also doubts the Vegas Golden Knights will take him off the Avs hands in the draft, noting Knights GM George McPhee was skeptical of Varlamov’s health during their tenure with the Washington Capitals. McPhee dealt Varlamov to the Avs in 2011.
Frei also expected Avs general manager Joe Sakic will explore trade options for Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. He also called upon Sakic to upgrade the Avalanche’s woeful defense and to avoid overpaying a veteran or two via unrestricted free agency.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s appearance on the NHL Network on Friday, in which he wondered if Duchene might ask to be dealt this summer. He speculated Duchene might be growing weary of hearing his name so often in the rumor mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Sakic can find any takers for Varlamov. I think they’ll bring him back next season and if he struggles, they could look at buying out the final season of his contract next June. They could look at buying him out in June. However, if he’s still recovering from hip surgery by then, he’ll be ineligible for a buyout. As for Duchene, he’ll remain a fixture in the rumor mill, especially once the playoffs end in June.