Latest on the Blue Jackets, Blues & Stars – September 29, 2017
Conflicting reports about Josh Anderson seeking a trade, the Blues are linked to Jaromir Jagr and the Stars could make a move to clear up their logjam on defense. Details in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman yesterday reported Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson requested a trade. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen claimed the request “was news to me,” adding the club isn’t looking to trade Anderson.
Friedman said the idea of a sign-and-trade scenario was broached. Appearing on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590, he said the report of the request didn’t come directly from the Anderson camp, but it was something he’d heard when working on the story. Anderson’s agent told Friedman he wasn’t going to talk about it.
Anderson is a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract. Friedman cites a report in The Athletic claiming the two sides appear to be only $150K per season apart on a three-year deal but the two sides are standing firm on principle. He also notes the Blue Jackets worked to protect Anderson from June’s expansion draft and it’s thought they’ve rejected requests from the Colorado Avalanche to include the winger in a trade package for center Matt Duchene.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Adam Jardy also reports Kekalainen denied Friedman’s report of a trade request, adding the Jackets are hopeful Anderson will be signed soon and continue playing in the NHL. The winger’s agent, Darren Ferris, declined to comment on speculation or the state of contract talks, other than to say talks are ongoing and he hoped for a resolution soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson posted a respectable 17 goals and 29 points as a rookie in 2016-17. He’s a big, physical forward with a decent scoring touch. The Blue Jackets obviously believe he has a promising future and prefer to keep him in the fold. However, the longer this contract stalemate drags on, the more Anderson’s name will pop up in the trade rumor mill. Because he’s coming off an entry-level deal, he has limited leverage. If he’s not under contract by December, he becomes ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season. Perhaps the Jackets will listen to trade offers if the standoff drags on through October.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t ruling out bringing in outside help to replace forward Robby Fabbri, who’s out for the upcoming season with a knee injury. However, it’s likely he’ll look to within his organization to address the issue. Armstrong admitted his staff are discussing options outside the team, including unrestricted free agent Jaromir Jagr. However, there are few decent choices available via free agency. There are also salary-cap complications if they go the trade route.
NBC SPORTS: Jame’s O’Brien cites TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reporting the Blues could bring back forward Scottie Upshall, who’s currently with the Vancouver Canucks on a professional tryout offer. Canucks GM Jim Benning, however, said his club hasn’t heard anything yet about Upshall returning to St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues currently have around $2.2 million in salary-cap space. If necessary, they can place Fabbri on long-term injury reserve, but they’ll only get $894K in salary-cap relief. Bringing back Upshall would be cheaper than signing Jagr.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika recently examined the options facing Stars GM Jim Nill to address his crowded blueline. The club currently carries nine defensemen. He could send Julius Honka, who’s exempt from waivers, to the minors. He could demote Greg Pateryn, who’ll likely clear waivers. Heika said Nill hasn’t traded Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth yet because he still values their potential.
Heika subsequently reports Stars coach Ken Hitchcock has determined who his top-six blueliners will be to open the season, though he declined to reveal who they are. Heika speculates they could be Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, Marc Methot, Jamie Oleksiak, Dan Hamhuis and Stephen Johns, as they were Hitchcock’s defense pairings during a recent preseason game. He suggests Honka could be demoted and either Nemeth or Pateryn could be traded or placed on waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: General managers looking to pry a blueliner from the defense-heavy Vegas Golden Knights could also contact the Stars. I think there will be interest in Honka but I doubt that Nill wants to part with him. Nemeth could also attract interest in the trade market. Pateryn could get plucked off the waiver wire.