NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2017
Latest on the Canadiens, Rangers, Canucks and more in your NHL rumor mill.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergervin is under public pressure to find help for his struggling team. Several of Bergevin’s peers have contacted him to let him know they’re interested in underachieving winger Alex Galchenyuk. The Habs carry about $9 million in salary-cap space but Bergevin is taking a long view rather than a quick fix.
Garrioch said many are wondering if they might shop captain Max Pacioretty if they don’t soon reverse their fortunes. League executives believe Bergevin’s best best is to find a way to pry center Matt Duchene away from the Colorado Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Easier said than done for Duchene, as Avs GM Joe Sakic still seeks a significant return of at least a young, established top-four defenseman (preferably a left-handed shot), a high draft pick and a top prospect. Bergevin doesn’t have those assets.
Galcheyuk’s poor start is adversely affecting his trade value. At this point, the Habs probably won’t get a return that bolsters their offense or improves their blueline. I don’t think Bergevin is ready to move Pacioretty. However, if the Habs miss the playoffs this season, his future with the Canadiens could get murky. Pacioretty is signed through 2018-19 and lacks no-trade protection.
Questions persist over whether John Tavares will re-sign with the New York Islanders or test next summer’s free-agent market. If the Isles decide to move him at the trade deadline there will be considerable interest in his services.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed Tavares wants to re-sign with the Isles but he also wants assurances that they’re heading in the right direction with their roster and plans for a new arena. We’ll learn more about both as this season unfolds.
There’s speculation New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault risks losing his job if the club doesn’t snap out of its early-season funk soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Rangers management will remain patient for now. If the Blueshirts don’t start winning soon, a shakeup behind the bench is possible.
Prior to the Detroit Red Wings trading Riley Sheahan to Pittsburgh to free up salary-cap space for Andreas Athanasiou’s new contract, there was talk they would move Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million through 2018-19) or Darren Helm ($3.85 million through 2020-21) but their salaries were too expensive.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nyquist might have more trade value next summer, when he’s entering the final season of his contract. I don’t see anyone taking on Helm’s contract unless it’s to get to the cap floor.
The Vegas Golden Knights are still carrying 10 defensemen. Jason Garrison, Jon Merrill and Brad Hunt could be available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Problem is, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in those blueliners, at least not at the present time.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes any near-term solution to improve the New York Rangers will have to come from within. He notes there’s only been one major pre-January trade in the salary cap era (Thomas Vanek for Matt Moulson in Oct. 2013), while the Rangers last notable pre-January trade (Marek Zidlicky, Thomas Kloucek and Rem Murray to Nashville for Mike Dunham) occurred on Dec. 2002.
Brooks feels it makes no sense to shop pending free agent winger Rick Nash unless “a future building block can be obtained in return.” That sort of move, however, takes place near the trade deadline and not in October or November. If the Rangers felt Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk would be a certain second-line center, the asking price could be Chris Kreider or Mats Zuccarello. However, there’s no evidence the Blueshirts have any interest in Galchenyuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks forgot about the Nov. 30, 2005 trade that saw the Boston Bruins ship Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau.
Regardless, he’s right that there likely isn’t a significant deal the Rangers can make right now that would notably improve their roster. Sure, just because such deals are rare in the salary-cap age doesn’t mean they can’t happen, but Rangers GM Jeff Gorton will have to get creative to find the right players who also fit within their salary-cap constraints.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford dismisses speculation the Vancouver Canucks might attempt to dangle promising young blueliner Olli Juolevi to the Colorado Avalanche as part of a package deal for center Matt Duchene. Botchford said the Canucks are looking to add a center but won’t part with the 19-year-old defenseman they selected fifth overall in this year’s draft for a soon-to-be 27-year-old center.
Botchford suggests keeping an eye on Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart, who’s surfaced recently in the rumor mill. He notes the Canucks and Sabres “already walked a possible Evander Kane trade quite a distance, so there’s been ground work laid.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With a record of 4-3-1, the rebuilding Canucks are off to a better start than many experts expected. Sure, at some point this season, they could come crashing back to earth, but I don’t think they’re keen to sacrifice a key piece of their future for a center who could bolt via free agency in two years. If the Canucks pursue a center, it could be a more affordable option such as Reinhart, who can skate at center or on the wing.