NHL Rumor Mill – November 29, 2017
Updates on Ian Cole plus the latest on Evander Kane, Patrick Maroon and more in your NHL rumor mill.
COLE TRADE SPECULATION RAMPS UP
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports the “primary suitors” for Penguins defenseman Ian Cole appears to be “Las Vegas, Colorado and Toronto.” The Penguins don’t intend to move him to a Metropolitan Division rival. It’s unclear who the Pens are targeting and if that player could be a center. Cole, 28, is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July with a cap hit of $2.1 million this season. That figure is likely to soar, making it difficult for the Penguins to re-sign him. Mackey also cites a source claiming the relationship between Cole and head coach Mike Sullivan had become strained.
TSN: During last night’s “Insider Trading” segment, Bob McKenzie reported his understanding of this situation is the Penguins are prepared to trade Cole but only if they get a prime asset, such as a quality center, in return. Cole’s been a healthy scratch in the last three games, prompting speculation the Penguins are holding him out of action to avoid risking Cole suffering an injury while they’re trying to move him. However, McKenzie believes the rearguard will return to the lineup soon.
With Penguins starter Matt Murray sidelined two-four weeks, Darren Dreger believes they’ll seek some backup insurance, suggesting options such as Colorado’s Andrew Hammond or Calgary’s Eddie Lack, who are both in the minors right now.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman, in his recent “31 Thoughts” column, notes the Leafs have Calvin Pickard and Garret Sparks in their system if the Penguins seek a goaltender for Cole. He also wonders if Chicago and Edmonton could come calling for Cole or perhaps the New Jersey Devils, though Friedman wonders if there’s any chance of Pittsburgh dealing with a division rival.
BSN DENVER: Adrian Dater reports the Colorado Avalanche have some interest in Cole but he believes it’s only mild at this point. If the Avs acquire Cole, Dater feels they’ll seemingly want an agreement on a contract extension in place. That could prove expensive and they have “prospect D-men such as Cale Makar and Conor Timmins who could be ready by next season.” He also points out the Avs aren’t a good enough team yet to give up future assets for a rental player. He did note the Avs’ recently demoted d-men Chris Bigras and Andrei Mironov but suggests that could be coincidental.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the blockbuster three-team trade earlier this month involving Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris, we’re still at the point of the season where there’s lots of rumors but not a lot of action in the trade market. Hence the reason for all the attention on the trade status of a depth defenseman like Cole.
Anyway, The Athletic’s Josh Yohe (along with several others) report Cole’s preference is to stay with the Penguins while Sullivan lashed out at the trade speculation. “I don’t know how this information gets thrown out there,” said Sullivan. “I know that Ian Cole is a good hockey player and a valuable part of our team.”
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, meanwhile, didn’t deny he could trade Cole but confirmed he wasn’t being held out of the lineup pending an imminent deal. Rutherford said he wasn’t on the verge of moving Cole and denied his free-agent status has anything to do with it, but did say he wouldn’t trade Cole simply for the sake of doing so.
Rutherford is likely seeking scoring punch, preferably a center, and perhaps a backup goalie. If he can get a scorer for Cole he’ll likely make that move, but such a player could be difficult to find without tossing in a draft pick or prospect into the deal. I don’t believe Rutherford will move Cole simply for a backup no matter how desperate things might get. Indeed, for now he seems willing to see how things pan out with Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith.
LATEST FROM TSN AND SPORTSNET INSIDERS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the Buffalo Sabres will trade pending UFA left wing Evander Kane at some point before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Sabres haven’t reached that decision yet. He also notes the teams expressing interest in the 26-year-old Kane are those with limited salary-cap space but the Sabres are telling those clubs they’re willing to absorb part of his $5.25 million cap hit to facilitate a trade. LeBrun feels we’re about six or seven weeks away until talks get serious.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams with limited cap room in need of a scoring left wing like Kane include the Anaheim Ducks. Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins have also been linked to Kane but those clubs are more in need of scoring centers. The St. Louis Blues could also be an option.
THE ATHLETIC: LeBrun also weighed in on the Penguins’ goaltending, suggesting Anaheim Ducks third-stringer Reto Berra could be a worthwhile option if the Ducks are willing to part with him.
Regarding Evander Kane, LeBrun suggests keeping an eye on the San Jose Sharks near the trade deadline.
LeBrun also believes the Florida Panthers could pursue a top-six forward. Depending on where they are in the standings, they’re likely to pursue a player who can help them not just this season but beyond.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman believes pending UFA winger Patrick Maroon is the most likely Edmonton Oiler to be traded if things don’t soon improve for the struggling club. He wonders if Maroon’s hometown St. Louis Blues might be interested.