Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 19, 2017
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos believes there’s a sense the Montreal Canadiens could be leaning toward a rebuild/retool/reset as ownership and the front office that their core group of players aren’t good enough to build around. It won’t happen overnight but there will be less patchwork moves to reach the playoffs and more deals to build long term.
Kypreos feels Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty is “drowning” in Montreal, comparing his current situation to that of Phil Kessel’s final season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Elliotte Friedman notes Habs GM Marc Bergervin isn’t willing to take futures in a deal, preferring players who can provide immediate help, so this would be a significant change.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Bergevin gets a great offer for Pacioretty now, I don’t see him being moved right now. They could ride out their current difficulties and await goaltender Carey Price’s return from a lower-body injury.
If Price returns and regains his usually stellar form, he could start stealing wins for the Habs and that could be enough to get them into the playoffs, though it won’t be enough to make them Stanley Cup contenders. Still, it buys time for Bergevin to address his club’s need.
But if they’re out of playoff contention by February, the major moves could commence with Pacioretty (who’s eligible in 2019 for UFA status and lacks no-trade protection) and Alex Galchenyuk as likely trade candidates.
I know there’s recent speculation over Price’s future, but with his injury history, no-movement clause and hefty new contract that kicks in next July, trading him could be very difficult. Not impossible, but certainly tougher than it would’ve been six months ago.
Shea Weber could also pop up as a trade option. While he carries a hefty long-term deal, he lacks a no-trade clause. Don’t kid yourself, if Weber hits the trade block, there will be teams willing to acquire him without the Habs having to pick up part of his cap hit.
Chris Johnston reports there’s been no substantive contract talks yet between the Toronto Maple Leafs and pending unrestricted free agents James van Riesmdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov. Their futures are uncertain and Johnston suggests that the Leafs face the possibility of moving one of them by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons wonders if the Leafs re-signing Josh Leivo means this is van Riemsdyk’s final season in Toronto. “Leivo is no van Riemdsyk, but he can be a less expensive, less productive version of him. He is big, with good hands, some power-play skills and offensive creativity. He has upside, the question is: How much?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving one or more of those guys could depend upon where the Leafs are in the standings by late-February and if there’s a glaring roster weakness that could jeopardize their playoff hopes. Otherwise, I can see the Leafs hanging onto that trio, even if they’re not re-signed by the trade deadline, and take their chances with the playoffs approaching.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Arizona Coyotes are willing to talk about “pretty much every player on their roster.” Forward Brad Richardson could be a trade deadline rental player. They’re getting calls about defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson,
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes GM John Chayka continually insists Ekman-Larsson isn’t going anywhere. If the Coyotes do consider shopping him, it’ll be because he’ll want to test the 2019 UFA market. In that case, the earliest he’ll be shopped is next summer.
The Florida Panthers have been searching for a winger, while the Calgary Flames would like to add a forward for their bottom-two lines.
The New York Islanders will have to reach a decision on pending UFA defenseman Calvin de Haan. While there’s talk he could be shopped at the trade deadline, Garrioch expects there will be contract extension discussions before that happens. Their priority remains re-signing captain John Tavares.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins wouldn’t mind adding another forward.
It’s believed Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is busily seeking help for his struggling club. It’s believed several clubs have contact Bergevin. Winger Alex Galchenyuk “continues to play prominently” in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Short of Galchenyuk regaining his 30-goal form from 2015-16, I believe he’s playing his final season with the Canadiens. He could be gone by the trade deadline if things don’t improve.
The Winnipeg Jets are willing to move forwards such as Joel Armia, Andrew Copp and Shawn Matthias, depending upon what teams are willing to pay for them. The Jets are getting calls about defenseman Jacob Trouba, who’s a restricted free agent next summer, but they aren’t interested in moving him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Jets get a substantial offer, they aren’t moving Trouba this season. I expect they’ll see what unfolds with contract talks this summer.