NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2017
Updates on Matt Duchene, Alex Galchenyuk, Andreas Athanasiou and more in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports some believe Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is mulling over “some legitimate interest and pieces, part of a package perhaps, that he finds at least enticing at this stage” for center Matt Duchene. However, Sakic also found some offers back in June interesting so it’s hard to say if he’s any closer to trading Duchene. Dreger said the New York Rangers are revisiting their previous interest in Duchene but he doesn’t think there’s anything remotely possible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Same story, different day. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if it takes until next July to trade Duchene. By then, he’ll be approaching the final year of his contract. I daresay interested parties might find it easier to meet Sakic’s asking price if they know they can re-sign Duchene. A team is allowed to re-sign a player a year prior to the expiration of his existing contract. By next July, Sakic can also allow teams to talk to Duchene about a contract extension if it will facilitate a trade.
Speaking of Duchene, Dreger doesn’t think he’s a fit financially with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who’ve been in the market for a third-line center. He wonders if Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk might be an option that makes sense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Habs are getting back a proven young scorer, it doesn’t make sense for them to trade Galchenyuk. The asking price would likely be Jake Guentzel or Conor Sheary. Both players have benefited from playing alongside Sidney Crosby, so there’s a risk they could struggle if traded to the Canadiens.
Bob McKenzie reports the Los Angeles Kings signed Brooks Laich to a one-year deal as a short-term measure to address the absence of center Jeff Carter, who’s sidelined indefinitely with a leg injury. McKenzie noted in an earlier Insider Trading segment they talked about the possibility of trading a defenseman, such as Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez, for a forward. He believes they’ll monitor the situation for the time being.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: When the suggestion of trading Muzzin or Martinez was first raised, I didn’t think it necessary to go that route as long as the Kings kept playing well. There’s no question Carter’s injury could affect their production. It’s worth noting Carter had only three assists in six games before his injury, but at some point he was going to break out offensively. It’ll be interesting to see how long Carter’s sidelined and how the Kings cope with his absence.
McKenzie reports the Detroit Red Wings current salary-cap situation (“now in LTIR mode”) means they cannot give restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou a two-year deal worth $1.95 million per season. If Athanasiou is to sign with the Wings, it’ll have to be for one year at slightly more than $1.25 million.
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz suggests Athanasiou could be a worthwhile option for the San Jose Sharks to bolster their depth on the wings. Word is the Red Wings could be open to trading Athanasiou for the right offer, such as a younger player or two, “including probably a defenseman”, to get the deal done.
Kurz’s colleague Craig Custance, however, reports the Wings have made it clear to Athanasiou that they want him on their roster this season. They’ve expressed “exactly what his role would be and articulating why the two-year offer is where it currently is.” They’ve also slightly sweetened the $1.25 million offer that was already on the table.
They want the 23-year-old to be playing hockey and continue his development. If it won’t be with the Wings this season, they’re open to him skating in Europe. Under the NHL CBA, he can sign with a team in Switzerland and start playing and still return to the Wings before Dec. 1, provided the contract comes with an NHL out-clause.
If a deal with the Wings cannot be done, that could be interpreted as meaning he doesn’t want to play in Detroit at all. That would require a trade to resolve the situation but the longer he’s on the shelf the more his trade value lessens. Having him playing somewhere would allow interested teams to scout him. The Wings asking price is high, supposedly a prospect who can become either a top-six forward or top-four defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Athanasiou returns to the Wings this season, it appears it’ll be on that one-year deal unless they can clear sufficient cap space. If he’s pushing for a trade, however, the Wings seem open to letting him play in Europe. They could be reluctant to trade him because it might send the wrong message to their other younger players. However, they might have little choice if he truly wants out of Detroit. It’s assumed this situation could be resolved this week. Perhaps by this weekend we’ll know for certain what Athanasiou intends to do.