NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2017
Latest on Dion Phaneuf, Joe Thornton, Matt Duchene and more in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman suggested one move that might make sense for the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators is swapping winger Dustin Brown for defenseman Dion Phaneuf. However, he’s unsure if Brown’s no-trade list allows him to go to Ottawa.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t see how that works for the Senators. They need scoring and Brown’s best seasons are well in the past. Phaneuf carries a $7 million annual cap hit for four more seasons while Brown has five more years at $5.875 million annually left on his contract. The Sens could shed salary but the cap-strapped Kings would be add nearly $1.2 million to their payroll in this proposed swap.
Potential suitors for San Jose Sharks pending UFA center Joe Thornton include “Columbus, Los Angeles, Montreal and the Rangers.” He can also see Toronto having interest but isn’t certain if they do. He also doubts Thornton would be keen to join Detroit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak at center. Unless they intend to part ways with one of them – and I don’t believe they are – I don’t see Thornton being a fit there.
Friedman thinks it’s possible Alex Galchenyuk remains with the Montreal Canadiens. Hasn’t been as much of a market for him as previously thought.
There’s an expectation Vancouver Canucks UFA goaltender Ryan Miller could sign a $1 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, though Friedman isn’t sure if bonuses would be added to that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller’s possible departure could force the Canucks into the UFA market for a goaltender. The Province’s Jason Botchford lists Steve Mason, Chad Johnson, Brian Elliott, Jonathan Bernier and Mike Condon as possible replacement options available for the Canucks.
The New York Rangers appear close to a deal with defenseman Brendan Smith. Same can’t be said for the Calgary Flames and Michael Stone. The Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets could have interest in Buffalo Sabres d-man Dmitry Kulikov. It could cost between $4-$4.5 million annually to sign Washington’s UFA d-man Karl Alzner. Some are curious to see if the Sabres make a big pitch for Kevin Shattenkirk, who might not be heading to the Rangers as originally assumed.
It could be Minnesota, Pittsburgh or retirement for veteran center Matt Cullen, though Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Sabres put in a call. They could also look at center Brian Boyle.
Friedman suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins as a “low-key possibility” trade destination for Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. He said the Penguins have circle around Duchene before and wonders if a pitch of defenseman Olli Maatta and more pieces might get a deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Phil Kessel trade two years ago was a clear indication that Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t afraid to make a big move. But with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as the Penguins top-two centers, I don’t think Duchene’s a fit there. Yes, he can also play on the wing, but the Pens will be in need of possibly replacing third-line center Nick Bonino if he departs via free agency. I don’t see Duchene thriving in that role. Moving Maatta would also leave a hole on the Penguins’ blueline.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowen reports Andrei Markov seeks a two-year, $12 million contract from the Canadiens. Meanwhile, Pat Hickey reports Washington Capitals pending UFA blueliner Karl Alzner has interest in joining the Habs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Habs countering with one-year and $6 million. It’ll be interesting to see how the Markov situation pans out. Alzner could be a good replacement for the departed Alexei Emelin.
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports the Detroit Red Wings “have had conversations with the camps for defensemen Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi and Ron Hainsey. It’s expected they’ll also give strong consideration to defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.”
Scott Power reports the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets pending UFA forward Sam Gagner have mutual interest in each other.
PHILLY.COM/WINNIPEG SUN: The Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets could turn to the free-agent market for goaltending depth. Options include Steve Mason and Brian Elliott. The Jets could also look at Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports the Boston Bruins were rumored to have interest in Arizona Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata at the March trade deadline. A source close to the 36-year-old Vrbata said the veteran winger could have interest in signing with the Bruins. He tallied 55 points on the sad-sack Coyotes last season.
CSN MID-ATLANTIC: J.J. Regan wonders if the Washington Capitals could attempt to shop goaltender Philipp Grubauer for a return to fill their holes on the blueline. He believes the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets definitely need a starting goaltender. He lists the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings as possible destinations. He notes the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers also need help between the pipes but considers them unlikely trade partners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Regan observers, if the Capitals shop Grubauer they should do it before the UFA market opens on July 1. Problem is, most of those teams lack sufficient blueline depth to bring the Caps a suitable defenseman. Sure, Jets defeseman Jacob Trouba came up over the past year in trade chatter but they obviously won’t move him for a package with Grubauer as the centerpiece.