NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2017
Latest speculation on Alex Galchenyuk, Erik Gudbranson & Brendan Smith plus an update on the Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his latest Friday AMA mailbag, Matt Larkin was asked who the Anaheim Ducks should deal for to bring in a much-needed forward. He suggests Montreal Canadiens left wing Alex Galchenyuk, noting he’s signed through 2020, can play wing or center and (despite the seeming lack of confidence in him from Habs management) is only 23 with a 30-goal season on his resume. Larkin suggests the cost could be defenseman Sami Vatanen, whose salary cap hit is close to Galchenyuk‘s. He points out the Ducks have depth in younger and cheaper blueliners who can do the same job as Vatanen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Galchenyuk for a defenseman wouldn’t help the Canadiens’ scoring depth. On the other hand, Vatanen would bring a welcome boost to the Habs’ defense corps. Landing a scoring forward will likely cost the Ducks one of their defensemen, and I don’t see them parting with Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Montour, Josh Manson or Jacob Larsson. At some point, I expect Vatanen will be moved for a scoring forward, be it Galchenyuk, Evander Kane or somebody else.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports on defenseman Erik Gudbranson’s uncertain future with the Vancouver Canucks. While the pending unrestricted free agent has surfaced this season in trade speculation, Canucks general manager Jim Benning said it’s not coming from him and praises the veteran’s leadership role with their younger players. Gudbranson said he doesn’t pay attention to the rumors and wants to stay in Vancouver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Benning appears to like Gudbranson’s gritty style and leadership. The blueliner’s play leading up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline and whatever he’s seeking for a new contract will determine his future in Vancouver.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers will have to address their current situation with defenseman Brendan Smith sooner or later. After re-signing Smith last summer to a four-year, $17.4 million contract, he was a healthy scratch in five straight games and seven of the last 19. If coach Alain Vigneault is no longer sold on Smith as a regular part of the Blueshirts’ defense, Brooks believes GM Jeff Gorton should shop around for the best trade he can find so both sides can cut their losses.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Though not impossible to move Smith, that $4.35 million annual cap hit through 2021 is a stumbling block. Unless the Rangers agree to absorb part of that cap hit or to take on another toxic contract, they might have to wait until next summer, when teams have more cap room and willingness to spend, to find a suitable deal.
BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports the banged-up Bruins’ recent struggles leaves them perilously close to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. They need help, especially with their offense, but it could cost them some of their promising young assets. Shinzawa believes GM Don Sweeney faces the choice of sacrificing some of those assets for immediate help or ride out their current difficulties.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If there’s immediate help that also fits well into the Bruins’ rebuild, Sweeney might consider it. I’ll be surprised if he sacrifices some of that young capital simply for rental players.