NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2017
Updated TSN NHL trade-bait list and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill update. Enjoy!
TSN.CA: Five members of the Vegas Golden Knights, New York Rangers winger Rick Nash and Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez make up TSN’s updated Trade Bait list for this season. Of course, the list is topped (as always) by Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, but center Vadim Shipachyov sits second after his agent confirmed the Golden Knights have allowed him to contact the other 30 NHL clubs to explore trade possibilities.
Other Vegas players on the list include defenseman Luca Sbisa (three), wingers James Neal (five) and David Perron (seven) and blueliner Griffin Reinhart (eight). Sbisa, Neal and Perron are all eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Shipachyov is signed through 2018-19 with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million while Reinhart’s is $800K
Nash (10), Detroit Red Wings rearguard Mike Green (four) and Vancouver Canucks winger Thomas Vanek (six) are also slated for UFA status next July. Martinez (nine) is signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $4 million. He was mentioned as a possible trade candidate if the Kings decide later in the season to shop for more offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene’s status is well documented so no reason to rehash it here. The Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets reportedly aren’t interested in Shipachyov, whose limited NHL experience and significant salary-cap hit could make him difficult to trade.
The trade status of the pending UFAs on this list will depend in part on where their respective clubs sit in the standings by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. If they’re in playoff contention they could be unwilling to move those players.
Should the Kings’ maintain their strong offensive improvement over the course of this season they’ll have no reason to shop Martinez or anyone else from their blueline. As for Reinhart, I don’t think he’s got any trade value. Given his cap friendly contract, if he was worth pursuing I think he would’ve been moved by now.
NHL.COM: In his recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked about what the Washington Capitals might do to improve their defense corps. The offseason departures of Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt and the recent sidelining of Matt Niskanen with an upper-body injury depleted their blueline depth. It’s an issue he feels must be addressed.
Rosen was asked if he felt Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr might be dealt to the Capitals. While acknowledging it’s a realistic scenario, given Sustr’s affordable contract ($1.95 million) and likely low return required to get him, Rosen doubts he’d provide a significant upgrade to their defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals are already pressed against the $75 million cap ceiling for this season. To add a skilled defenseman means moving salary via trades or demoting players to the minors. For now, they’ll have to sit tight and ride this out until Niskanen returns from injury. Perhaps later in the season they’ll find a suitable deal to bolster the blueline.
Rosen was also asked about the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs trading forward Mitch Marner for a defenseman later this season. While he doesn’t rule it out, he doesn’t think the Leafs are ready to move out one of their good young forwards while they’re still evaluating young blueliners within their system. However, they’ll eventually have to figure out what their salary cap structure will look like with William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk, Leo Komarov,Tyler Bozak due new contracts this season and Marner and Auston Matthews due at the end of next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If (and it’s only “if” at this point) the Leafs were to shop one of their young forwards for a top-four defenseman, Marner seems the likely candidate. Matthews is their franchise player and Nylander is emerging as a two-way force. I doubt they can address their long-term defensive needs by peddling van Riemsdyk, Komarov or Bozak when the trio are eligible next summer for UFA status.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s Wednesday appearance on Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650 speculating the Edmonton Oilers could attempt to upgrade their team speed via trade. The Oilers lack players to keep up with team captain Connor McDavid.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t specify who the Oilers might target or who he things could be a good fit. Considering how quiet the trade market usually is at this point in the season, it could take weeks or into the new year before the Oilers find suitable trade options to address this issue.