NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2017
Latest on Carey Price and Erik Gudbranson plus latest on the Sharks in your NHL rumor mill.
PRICE’S TRADE VALUE
THE HOCKEY NEWS: During an “Ask Me Anything” segment yesterday, Matt Larkin was asked what would be a serious and realistic return for the Montreal Canadiens if they traded goaltender Carey Price. Despite Price’s recent injury history and expensive upcoming new contract, Larkin points out Price is a superstar still in the prime years.
Larkin believes the Habs would get a “gargantuan return” for Price, though not a top center and a No. 2 defenseman. Instead, he feels they’d get a package of elite prospects and high draft picks – ” like what Colorado received for Matt Duchene, but multiply the return twofold. Then you immediately start shopping Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty.” In other words, they don’t trade Price unless they intend to rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s recent absence due to injury and the Habs improvement under call-up goalie Charlie Lindgren prompted some recent speculation suggesting they shop their sidelined starter. It’s rubbish, of course; Price carries a full no-movement clause this season and through the next eight under his new contract. His $10.5 million annual cap hit on his new deal is almost as good as a no-movement clause.
If (and that’s a huge “if” at this point) the Canadiens did put Price on the market, I agree with Larkin that it’s indicative of a major rebuild. They would seek a package of top prospects and high picks in return. They would also put Weber and Pacioretty on the block for similar returns. Given the Habs struggles this season, that probably sounds like an attractive thought for some of their fans. But that’s not going to happen, not in a town with a “win-now” attitude like Montreal.
LEAFS LIKE GUDBRANSON?
SPORTSNET 590: In a recent appearance on the Jeff Blair Show (stick tap to Pro Hockey Rumors), TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie said there was some interest around the league in Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson. Lavoie believes the Toronto Maple Leafs have included Gudbranson among their targets for stay-at-home blueliners, though the others aren’t at his level.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Gudbranson has his critics, especially among analytics advocates. That’s prompted questions over his future with the Canucks.
But as The Province’s Ben Kuzma recently observed, Gudbranson’s leadership and physical style make him a valuable asset for Vancouver and for clubs, such as the Leafs, seeking experienced defensive depth. The Leafs’ blueline weaknesses are no secret. They’re among the league leaders in shots-against per game (33.5).
SHARKS NEED A TOP-LINE LEFT WINGER
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle wonders if the San Jose Sharks can close the revolving door of left wingers on their top line. They could move Tomas Hertl into that spot but it could adversely affect their second line, which is those most effective one right now. They could split up Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, but a recent attempt at that during a game against the LA Kings failed to generate an offensive spark.
A trade is an option, though two players who could be on the market this winter (Buffalo’s Evander Kane and Dallas’ Jason Spezza) “are less than ideal fits.” Kane has off-ice baggage plus the Sabres asking price could be expensive while Spezza is 34 and carries a $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2018-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a top-line left wing, even as a rental player, likely tops the wish list of Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. As long as the Sharks remain in playoff contention, I expect he’ll wait until the Feb. 26 trade deadline draws near in hopes of better options becoming available.