NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2017
Latest on the Sharks, Blue Jackets, Golden Knights, Capitals and Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE SHARKS LOOK TO THE JETS FOR A FORWARD?
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle believes the Winnipeg Jets could be a suitable trade partner for the San Jose Sharks to address their need for a top-six forward. He notes the Jets are “loaded with young speed, skill and talent up front, so they could potentially give up a forward without creating a new hole in their lineup.” He also points out they could use some blueline depth with defenseman Toby Enstrom sidelined for at least another seven weeks.
While admitting it would be foolish to speculate over the who the Jets could be willing to part with, Gackle proposes the Sharks offer up a package of “a young defenseman, such as Tim Heed or Joakim Ryan, and one or more forward prospects, such as Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc or Danny O’Regan” to tempt Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gackle also acknowledges Cheveldayoff tends to be conservative when it comes to roster shakeups and believes the Jets will have to start dropping some games to make him desperate enough to jump into the trade market. As long as the Jets continue playing as well as they have thus far, that’s not going to happen. Cheveldayoff will be content to stick with his current roster. He could be a buyer at the trade deadline but won’t part with any of his good young forwards.
JACKETS NO LONGER IN NEED OF A CENTER?
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline responded to a reader’s question regarding the improved play of Columbus Blue Jackets rookie center Pierre-Luc Dubois and how it could affect their search for a center. While Portzline still believes the Jackets must stabilize that position, especially if they want to do damage in the playoffs, Dubois’ play and the club’s ongoing success suggests they might not need the top-six everybody was expecting.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois’ developing terrific chemistry with wingers Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson on the Jackets’ top line. If that continues, Jackets management could shift their focus toward a more seasoned third- or fourth-line center. That would be much less costly than chasing a first- or second-line pivot in the trade market.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS NO LONGER CERTAIN SELLERS
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen cites Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee recently suggesting his club won’t be sellers by the Feb. 26 trade deadline if they’re still in the playoff hunt by then. “We do have a master plan, but if this team is in the hunt way down the road, way down the road, in March, then we’ll stay in the hunt. I wouldn’t derail it. It’s not fair to this team or this community,” said McPhee. Boylen feels we’ll have a better idea of how realistic their playoff hopes are by January 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: When this season began, it was widely assumed the Knights, well out of playoff contention by the New Year, would start peddling pending UFAs such as James Neal, David Perron and Jonathan Marchessault for draft picks and prospects. However, I don’t believe that’s a certainty now. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if all three opt to re-sign with Vegas.
CAPITALS UNLIKELY TO SHOP GRUBAUER
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan cites the ongoing goaltending woes for the Pittsburgh Penguins as a good reason why the Washington Capitals could think twice about shopping backup Philipp Grubauer. While the 26-year-old Grubauer could make an attractive trade chip for clubs seeking depth between the pipes, he wonders where the Caps would be if they traded Grubauer and starter Braden Holtby got injured.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals do have promising Ilya Samsonov waiting in the wings but he’s currently playing in the KHL. To date, Grubauer hasn’t surfaced in the trade rumor mill. I expect the Caps will keep their current tandem together for this season. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. If the Capitals move him via trade it’ll likely happen then.
LATEST ON THE OILERS
Hours after GM Peter Chiarelli informed 30 GMs Iiro Pakarinen is available, the fourth liners who play are stealing the show.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) December 1, 2017