NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2017
Updates on Andrei Markov and Ilya Kovalchuk plus latest on the Leafs and Devils in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Joey Alfieri cited reports by TSN 690 Montreal’s Tony Marinaro claiming unrestricted free agent defenseman Andrei Markov was speaking with only one team, the Philadelphia Flyers. Marinaro followed up saying Markov to the Flyers won’t happen, as the club doesn’t share his interest in joining them. The 38-year-old is having difficulty finding any takers for his two-year, $12-million asking price.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Darren Dreger telling TSN 690 there was nothing new to report yesterday on Markov, other than he and the Montreal Canadiens have mutual interest. Regarding speculation suggesting interest in Markov by the Flyers, Dreger said he didn’t know that to be true.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers only have around $6 million in cap space. If Markov wants to go to Philly, he’ll have to significantly lower his salary demands.
As for the Canadiens, Dreger doubts they’re offering the veteran blueliner chump change. With over $60 million invested in 21 players, there’s enough cap room to bring back Markov on a reasonable deal, re-sign RFA forward Alex Galchenyuk and perhaps add one more player via trade or free agency.
Perhaps the Habs are offering a one-year, bonus-laded deal taking him up to between $5 – $6 million. However, if Markov won’t budge off his current asking price, I doubt he’ll find any takers around the league.
NEW YORK POST/NORTHJERSEY.COM: Brett Cyrgalis reports the New Jersey Devils attempted to trade Ilya Kovalchuk prior to the winger’s decision yesterday to remain in the KHL in 2017-18. Kovalchuk was linked to the Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers.
Andrew Gross reports the Chicago Blackhawks were believed among the teams with interest in Kovalchuk. He said the Devils were hoping to get a return that could help their rebuilding process. They still need to add a top-four defenseman. With Kovalchuk staying in Russia, Gross speculates the Devils could move a forward for help on the blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not sure which forward the Devils will move to land that top-four blueliner. Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, recently-acquired forwards Marcus Johansson and Brian Boyle and 2017 first-overall pick Nico Hischier are likely off- limits. Center Travis Zajac has a full no-trade clause and carries an annual cap hit of $5.75 million through 2020-21, which likely won’t make him attractive to rival clubs. They might drum up some interest in promising Pavel Zacha, but I’m not sure they want to go that route.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Darren Dreger’s appearance yesterday on TSN 690 Montreal speculating over other moves by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Noting that the Nashville Predators still haven’t found a suitable replacement for departed winger James Neal, Dreger wonders if there’s a fit there for James van Riemsdyk or Tyler Bozak. He cautions that’s merely his speculation but he feels Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello isn’t done dealing this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger noted many observers felt Poile’s recent acquisition of defenseman Alexei Emelin was setting the stage for a trade with the Colorado Avalanche for Matt Duchene. However, that didn’t materialize. Sakic remains insistent on landing a young, established top-four d-man as part of the return for Duchene, while Poile said he’s not giving up any of his top-four guys (Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm).
If (and this is also merely my speculation) the Leafs are willing to part with van Riemsdyk I think Poile would be very interested. However, Lamoriello would also probably want one of Poile’s top-four rearguards. Bozak might land Emelin, but I’m not sure Lamoriello has interest in the former Habs blueliners.