NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2017
Updates on the Kings, Capitals, Canadiens & Predators plus latest on Evander Kane, Andreas Athanasiou and more in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun speculates the Los Angeles Kings could consider drawing upon their defense for trade bait later in the season if they feel they need to further bolster their scoring. He suggests they could put out Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez on the trade block. Both are under contract beyond this season so they wouldn’t be rental players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind LeBrun isn’t saying for sure the Kings will move either guy, but merely speculating they’ve may have had internal discussions about it. If the Kings maintain their current improvement over the course of the season, they could bolster their scoring punch near the Feb. 26 trade deadline by adding a playoff rental player without having to part with Muzzin or Martinez.
LeBrun also believes the Washington Capitals were looking around for blueline help before Matt Niskanen (upper-body injury) was recently placed on long-term injury reserve. He notes the Vegas Golden Knights still carry 10 defensemen and must trade one or two of them soon in order to recall Shea Theodore.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights general manager (and former Capitals GM) George McPhee is thought to be trying to find a trade partner. Perhaps he and his former club might work out a deal? If so, don’t expect Nate Schmidt to be returning to Washington. He’s among Vegas’ untouchables, as is Theodore. Jason Garrison, Jon Merrill and Griffin Reinhart have come up as possible trade candidates.
Darren Dreger reports teams are wondering what the Buffalo Sabres are going to do with left wing Evander Kane, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. He doesn’t feel they’ll move Kane at this point in the season unless they get an offer too good to refuse, but his strong play thus far has elevated his trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The higher Kane’s value on the trade market goes, the more the Sabres will want in return. They could also hang onto him but that’ll depend upon how much he wants to re-sign with them. If that proves too expensive and if they’re out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, they could shop his services to the highest bidder. They’ll likely want at least a young, established top-four defenseman (preferably with a right-handed shot) in return.
Bob McKenzie reports discussions between the Detroit Red Wings and the agent for restricted free agent right wing Andreas Athanasiou have intensified over the last couple of days. Remains to be seen if they get a deal done but McKenzie gets the sense things could break one way or the other this week.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Dreger’s appearance Tuesday on Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin’s recent appearance at several New York Islanders games. Dreger said he’s checking on it but so far hasn’t identified the target or targets Bergevin’s eyeing on the Isles. He notes the Canadiens cap space and their need to improve this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, the Canadiens won’t land John Tavares. Get that out of your heads now. The Isles hope to re-sign him and he’s reportedly awaiting the outcome of their bid to construct a new arena at Belmont Park. If that gets the green light, Tavares will likely re-sign within days. If Tavares hits the trade block, the Habs lack sufficient assets to acquire him.
However, there are other players Bergevin could be looking at on the Isles. Defensemen Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey and Dennis Seidenberg are UFAs next summer. So is winger Josh Bailey and center/winger Brock Nelson is a restricted free agent. I’m not saying the Isles will part with them but maybe Bergevin has his eye on one of them. Perhaps he’s also looking at sophomore left wing Anthony Beauvillier, though he was a healthy scratch in the last two games.
Dreger also said the Colorado Avalanche have heavily scouted the Nashville Predators. He notes this summer’s speculation linking the Predators to Avs center Matt Duchene but isn’t sure if that’s related. He acknowledges the knee injury suffered by Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis might have affected things but isn’t sure Nashville GM David Poile wants to part with Ellis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports over the summer claimed Poile wasn’t interested in giving up any of his top-four defensemen. Of course, things can change over time. Still, he knows that blueline is among the league’s best and played a significant role in the Preds march to last spring’s Stanley Cup Final. As much as Poile might covet Duchene, I’m not sure he’ll pursue him at any price.