NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2017
Latest on Matt Duchene, James van Riemsdyk and more in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene tops Frank Seravalli’s trade board for the upcoming season. He notes Duchene’s absence from a recent voluntary skate involving Avalanche players raised eyebrows, stoking speculation he might not report to training camp next week. Duchene and the club declined to comment and his agent Pat Brisson would only say his client is skating in Toronto.
Seravalli observes the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames have been linked to Duchene throughout this summer. One of the complicating factors is Duchene has just two seasons remaining on his contract before his eligibility for unrestricted free agency in 2019. It’s also too early to sign him to an extension.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Duchene and teammate Gabriel Landeskog sit atop Matt Larkin’s list of the top-10 NHL trade candidates for the upcoming season. He believes there’s no rush to move Landeskog, who’s signed throught 2021-22 but feels it could cost Colorado dearly if general manager Joe Sakic fails to move Duchene before the starting of the season.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger telling Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 he believes a Duchene trade is going to happen, it’s just a question of when. He lists the Predators, Canadiens and Blue Jackets as possible destinations. He doesn’t know if Sakic has softened his stance regarding his asking price. Dreger said he’s seeking a young left-shot defenseman and notes the Avs blueline needs help.
Nichols also cites Elliotte Friedman telling Sportsnet 590 he thinks there’s been some renewed effort by the Avs to trade Duchene and believes the Columbus Blue Jackets could be in there, noting their attempt to land the center in early July. He said there’s been rumors the Hurricanes talked to the Avs about Justin Faulk. They’re concerned about Duchene’s contract and doesn’t think the Avs were interested in Faulk, preferring younger players like Jaccob Slavin or Noah Hanifin, who the Canes don’t want to part with.
BSN DENVER: Adrian Dater reports Duchene’s agent Pat Brisson doesn’t have anything to say about his client’s status right now. It’s possible the Avs could have an ugly holdout situation on their hands, though Dater cautions we haven’t heard anything yet from Duchene.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade talk between the Avs and other clubs interested in Duchene could be heating up. Then again, after a quiet summer in the NHL trade market since June, this could be wishful thinking.
We know Sakic is willing to continue listening to offers and he’s refusing to budge on what he wants in return. We know several teams are interested but are balking at Sakic’s asking price and are concerned over Duchene’s $6 million annual salary, his eligibility for UFA status in 2019 and the decline in his play last season.
Duchene’s absence from that voluntary skate earlier this week has stoked anticipation he could refuse to report to training camp until the Avs trade him but that’s not yet a certainty. If he does, however, that will provide more fodder for the rumor mill and could perhaps push Sakic to make a trade before the start of the season.
Seravalli also included Vegas Golden Knights winger James Neal, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, Golden Knights blueliner Jason Garrison, Vancouver Canucks winger Thomas Vanek, Golden Knights winger David Perron, Philadelphia Flyers center Valtteri Filppula, Avs left wing Landeskog, Los Angeles Kings winger Marian Gaborik and Florida Panthers rearguard Jason Demers on his list of 2017-18 potential trade bait.
Larkin includes every pending UFA on the Golden Knights, Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson, Green, New Jersey Devils winger Drew Stafford, Kings forward Michael Cammalleri, Predators prospect Dante Fabbro, Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen and Hurricanes blueliner Faulk on his list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the players on these two lists (Neal, Green, Garrison, Vanek, Perron, Gudbranson, Filppula, Stafford, Cammalleri and Kane) are eligible for UFA status next summer. Most could indeed be on the move by the 2018 trade deadline.
Gaborik is signed through 2020-21 at over $4.8 million annually. I doubt there’ll be any interest in the oft-injured 35-year-old winger. The Panthers reportedly tried to trade Demers to the Canucks but the defenseman spiked the deal. He’s also signed through 2020-21 with a $4.5 million annual cap hit and a modified no-trade clause.
Vatanen and Faulk could be shopped but those moves might not take place until next summer, if at all.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsyk is said to be seeking around $6 million annually on a contract extension before his UFA eligibility next summer. If the Leafs truly want to acquire a defenseman, McGran considers the winger their best trade chip. While van Riemsdyk could be mentioned in trade rumors this season, he’s focused on being a productive player for the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The better van Riemsdyk plays this season the more his trade value will rise. However, so will his value to the Leafs, especially if they’re jockeying for a playoff spot this season.
There’s also the concern that re-signing van Riemsdyk to a big raise could complicate efforts to re-sign rising stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander to the big raises they’re bound to command. The Leafs won’t move van Riemsdyk now but could consider that possibility later in the season, depending on where they are in the standings by February.