NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2017
Latest on Matt Duchene, Kevin Shattenkirk, Joe Thornton and more in your NHL rumor mill.
BSN DENVER: Adrian Dater reports sources say the bulk of a report claiming Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic turning down an offer from the New York Islanders of defenseman Travis Hamonic and a 2018 first-round pick for center Matt Duchene “is untrue”. While Hamonic may have been offered, the first-round pick was not part of the deal. Dater also said the characterization of Duchene’s agent Pat Brisson being “seriously unhappy” is “well overblown.”
TSN: Pierre McGuire said he’s heard Duchene connected in the trade rumor mill to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He cautions he’s not sure if it’s true or not. Noting the Avs need a defenseman, McGuire wonders why they didn’t acquire Hamonic. Gord Miller wonders if Sakic’s asking price is too high or if the Isles aren’t as high on Duchene as believed. Miller suggests Carolina and potentially Tampa Bay having the players to land Duchene. McGuire disagrees regarding the Lightning and doesn’t see the Hurricanes trading Jaccob Slavin or Brett Pesce.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the reason why a Duchene-for-Hamonic deal didn’t go down between the Avs and Isles, I think it could be because Sakic has a set price in mind. He doesn’t want to move Duchene just for the sake of doing so. However, the longer this drags out, the fewer options potentially available for Sakic.
As for linking Duchene to the Leafs, I’m in agreement with Miller. If Sakic wants a good defenseman as part of the deal, the Leafs don’t have any to spare. The only suitable one is Morgan Rielly and they’re not moving him. Duchene plays best at center and the Leafs already have Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak at that position. And no, you don’t dump Bozak and acquire Duchene to skate on the third line. That would be silly.
Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens have looked into reacquiring Alexei Emelin from the Vegas Golden Knights. He isn’t sure if they’ll proceed. The Senators are also looking at Emelin.
Darren Dreger tweets the Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets have had discussions with Washington Capitals UFA defenseman Karl Alzner. Dreger also sees Washington free agent winger Justin Williams as a player of interest for the Dallas Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens need experienced depth on defense so it’s no wonder they’re looking at Alzner and considering a re-acquisition of Emelin. If they’re unable to land the former, perhaps they’ll put more effort into dealing for the latter.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis speculates the Rangers re-signing defenseman Brendan Smith “likely puts an end to any idea the Rangers would go out and sign coveted free-agent right-handed defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the long-term deal he will command on the open market.”
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Andrew Gross lists Shattenkirk, left wing Thomas Vanek and defenseman Cody Franson as three players the New Jersey Devils may target via free agency on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Cyrgalis. Everything I’ve heard in recent days suggests it’s increasingly unlikely the Rangers will pursue Shattenkirk via free agency. Maybe if he’s willing to accept less than market, but I don’t see that happening. If Shattenkirk wants to sign close to New York, the Devils would be a suitable option as they have considerably more cap space than the Blueshirts. However, Shattenkirk might not be keen to join a rebuilding club. We’ll find out soon enough.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle weighs in on reports claiming the Los Angeles Kings have interest in San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton. He suggests it’s unlikely Thornton will sign with the Kings, noting the 37-year-old center wants to win now. He points out the Kings lack depth on defense and high-end speed at forward. Gackle also thinks Thornton could be using the conversation with the Kings as leverage in his negotiations with the Sharks. He doubts the Sharks will part company with Thornton and Patrick Marleau unless they’ve got a solid backup plan to replace them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gackle makes some excellent points regarding the Kings’ apparent interest in Thornton. The one trump card working in the Kings’ favor is their close proximity to San Jose. If Thornton feels strongly about staying close to his family but cannot get a new deal with the Sharks, the Kings could be the best option.
MLIVE.COM: Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, Dan Girardi and Brian Campbell are among several pending UFA defensemen who could be of interest to the Detroit Red Wings.
VANCOUVER SUN: Jason Botchford lists several UFAs (including Michael Del Zotto, Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov and Jordan Weal) as possible free agent options for the Vancouver Canucks could target via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings and Canucks could get some grief from their fans over potentially pursuing one or two veterans via free agency when they’re supposed to be rebuilding. However, it’s never a bad idea to bring in a couple of experienced players on affordable short-term deals to address specific roster needs. The Wings, for example, could use someone like Daley, Hainsey or Campbell if Niklas Kronwall’s bad knee continues to hamper his effectiveness on their already thin blueline.
You don’t want to overload your promising young players. Otherwise, you risk hurting their development. As long as the contracts aren’t unreasonable and those veterans don’t take away key playing time from younger talent, it’s worthwhile to make those additions.