NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2017

by | Dec 21, 2017 | Rumors | 52 comments

Latest on the Penguins, Blue Jackets, Senators, Hurricanes and more in your NHL rumor mill. 


 SPORTSNET: Noting the Columbus Blue Jackets’ search for a center, Elliotte Friedman suggests a reunion with the Ottawa Senators’ Derick Brassard. He points out Brassard played well for Jackets head coach John Tortorella during their time with the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion from Friedman. Brassard could be a good fit in Columbus. The Jackets have the cap space to absorb his $5 million annual cap hit, especially if they send a salaried player to Ottawa. Such a move, however, depends upon whether the Jackets are on his no-trade list, as well as the Senators’ asking price. Maybe the Jackets offer up Alexander Wennberg, who tallied 59 points in 2016-17 but is struggling this season and might benefit from a change of scenery. 


Speaking of Brassard, Friedman also notes Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was Tortorella’s assistant during that time and the Pens are also in the market for a center. Some opposing team executives consider the Pittsburgh Penguins’ recent acquisitions of Jamie Oleksiak and Michael Leighton “the tip of the iceberg.”

NBC SPORTS: In the wake of the Pittsburgh Penguins acquisitions of Oleksiak and Leighton, James O’Brien wonders who the Penguins should trade for next. He mentions Toronto’s Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman or Derick Brassard, and Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist or Andreas Athanasiou as possible fits, but doubts those Eastern rivals would want to enrich the Penguins’ roster.

O’Brien also suggests several players on expiring contracts. They include Buffalo’s Evander Kane, Vegas’ James Neal or Jonathan Marchessault, Florida’s Radim Vrbata or Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon or Ryan Strome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Penguins would jump at the opportunity to land Brassard from the Senators. However, they’ll have to clear sufficient room for his cap hit or convince the Sens to pick up part of it. If Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion decides to move Brassard, I suspect he’ll wait until the trade deadline in hopes of sparking a bidding war for the center. 

Unless the Leafs tumble out of the playoff race I don’t see them moving Bozak or van Riemsdyk, even if it means possibly losing them for nothing to free agency in July. The Senators and Wings could be reluctant to deal with an Eastern Conference club but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it if the Penguins were to make a better offer. The Wings could be willing to move Nyquist but they likely see Athanasiou being part of their unspoken rebuild.

Kane’s a possibility but he won’t address the Pens’ need for a third-line center. Ditto Maroon and Strome. Golden Knights GM George McPhee recently said he wouldn’t stage a fire sale at the trade deadline if his club remained in playoff contention, so don’t expect Neal or Marchessault to be available. 


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Carolina Hurricanes might shop a defenseman in hopes of adding an impact forward. While it’s believed they kept tabs on Matt Duchene before he was traded by Colorado to Ottawa, LeBrun doubts they were heavily involved in pursuing him. 

LeBrun believes adding a piece up front has to be a priority before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. While they could draw upon their depth on the blueline as trade bait, they don’t want to risk addressing one problem while creating another. He thinks the Canes want to keep their defense corps intact. “Perhaps there’s another way to upgrade up front at some point before Feb. 26.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading one of their defensemen for a scoring forward could create a hole on the blueline that’s tough to fill. Then again, perhaps they can fill that gap from within their system, via waivers or with a cheap trade pickup. If they’re unwilling to take the gamble by moving one of their blueliners, they’ll have to consider shopping their first-round pick and/or one or two of their top prospects. 


 SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports some teams inquired about Senators forward Mark Stone but were told he’s not available. He suspects there will be interest in forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci and Zack Smith. Senators GM Pierre Dorion could be seeking young NHL players, draft picks and/or prospects.

Friedman has a hunch the Vancouver Canucks could make an increased effort to trade pending free agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson. He also speculates the Edmonton Oilers could move forward Anton Slepyshev.

Friedman thinks some teams have asked Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin about his plans for goaltender Charlie Lindgren. While it’s difficult to know because Bergevin doesn’t discuss trade possibilities, “the fact nothing’s happened tells you something.”

The Winnipeg Jets sent a note around the league last week indicating forward Shawn Matthias is available.



  1. What a great idea, team needs to improve offense so we will try to get the 2nd line centre and most consistent scorer from a top 5 team in the league. Over and over again, why would the leafs trade them?I just don’t understand the logic in some of these of reporters..
    If I’m Columbus I wouldn’t trade for anyone Tortorella might want, his best before date is quickly approaching….again.

  2. No thanks to Neal 🤮. He is a knucklehead mcspazzatron.

  3. if the Jackets offer Wennberg for Brassard then Dorion should be all over it. Wennberg is seven years younger and locked into an affordable 6 year deal. Brassard started off hot this year but has fizzled out. The other player I could seeing in the conversation is Jenner.

    • Unless Jackets feel brassard is the missing piece to make them cup favorites they shouldn’t trade a potential, struggling yes, but potential number 1 center for a number two guy.

      • But why would the Jackets try fill their center shortage by trading away another center? Especially one they just signed to a long term contract. Trading Wennberg for Brassard simply doesn’t make sense for the Jackets.

  4. I’m a big fan of Brassard, but unless the Pens decide they can run and gun for 4 straight rounds, he’s probably not the fit they need. He doesn’t kill penalties or provide any grit.

    Stepan would be a better target if you want to bring in a former Ranger center named Derek (Derick).

    Oleksiak took Cole’s spot in practice. Ian seems a good bet to move shortly after the trade freeze ends.

    • There’s no way the Pens can take on Stepans salary, 6.5 mill a season no way. PK is not a concern for the next 3C. It would be better if the new guy could play PK but they could always play Rowney on the wing on the 4th line.

      • Sheahan, Rowney, Hagelin, Kuhnhackl & Rust all kill penalties. That’s 2 & a 1/2 PK units. How much more PKing does 1 team need?

      • To be fair Hagelen, Kuhny and Rust don’t play centre and that’s what his original concern was. Putting Rowney on the wing where he played all playoffs last year gives the Pens their 2 PK centres on the same line.

  5. Lyle.

    Couldn’t Strome play as a 3rd line C for Pit?

    • Perhaps, though his play over the last couple of seasons doesn’t inspire much confidence.

      • Agreed but very few options available as we approach this seasons trade deadline, parity is alive & well. Sellers are few & beggars can’t be choosers. Letestu would be a better fit.

        I have run all 31 teams & less than 10 possible C’s available unless you want to make a lateral move other than possibly Brassard. Anything larger is incredible rare mid season.

      • Nor am I certain Edm will be sellers, they are 7 points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand on Calgary, still time for them to turn it around although going to be tough, Talbot has played well since returning from injury & Sekera is back tonight, he’ll need 12 to 15 games to get fully up to speed but even a rusty Sekera helps solidify that D.

    • Ryan Spooner can, we plays a speed game, which the penguin like to do and the trio of Debrusk, Spooner and Bjork show how effective a speed line can be. He would add speed, creativity and play on the power play. He is still soft but trying harder and getting better on the faceoff and at $2.825 he’s affordable. Not saying the Bruins should move him; Just saying I see him as a good fit in Pitts.

      • Agreed.

        I’m not giving him up for free though. As an RFA with limited contract demands unless made a solid offer happier to keep him even if he chooses arbitration this summer & trading him at next seasons deadline if he can’t be signed to be Bos’s #3 for the next 3 to 5 years.

      • When Krejci returns this time I’d like to see Spooner stay at the #3 C spot & Nash moved to the #4 spot.

      • Caper..i agree Spooner is soft but he is offensively talent and creative…Didn’t think he he would be a good fit but maybe his salary is certainly doable….

        We will see i like Jonathan Marchesseault, Tyler Bozak, and Jean Gabriel Pageau better! I would love Derek Stephan but his $6.5 million salary is too much…

      • Ya, Spooner makes sense and the B’s are deep at C. You could also move Nash if the deal is right. He has played well, especially for $900K. He can play 3C, though on the low end of that spectrum.
        The return for Spooner is a tough call?
        A first and?

      • A first AND another asset is not happening. Spooner will be a project for whom ever trades for him. A second and a b prospect or middle 6 roster player is more likely at this point. The Penguins have become the team where players with stalling careers go. I think his skills are best suited for the Pens than the Bruins. I think he is worth the gamble as long as the trade happens sooner than later.

    • I was thinking the same thing. I don’t know if he’d be a fit as he has been more of a meh since his 50 point season. I believe the talent is still there, but he was buried on a mediocre Islanders team and Edmonton….well they have their well documented problems that aren’t his fault either. If they could get him on the cheap and put him in a situation to succeed, perhaps you get more of the same. But the gamble to me is that he finds his game again which would be a huge win. Plus I believe he can play RW as well which doesn’t hurt.
      If he comes cheap, I would roll the dice.

      • My thoughts as well, if not cost prohibitive roll the dice

  6. Carolina’s goose is cooked for this season to stay the course keep your Dman & get some of those kids in the AHL some NHL games later in the year & make room for 1 or 2 of them next season perhaps wading into the UFA market for another player like Williams this summer to buy time for the prospects in the system.

    Francis gambled that Darling was ready to be a #1 goalie mistakenly giving him a 4 year deal as opposed to a show me deal. Darling hasn’t been good. He could still develop into the role over time perhaps he comes to camp re-tuned & is successful next season but this choice has failed. Darling has been soft in the vast majority of games he’s played & there simply hasn’t been enough great games to off set his poor play.

    I believe if not for Darling’s poor play Carolina would be a playoff team.

    • I wasn’t convinced Darling was the right option for Carolina when they took him this summer. But, nowadays teams have to gamble more by picking up players from other teams leftovers that have shown a spark of something. There weren’t many viable options in Goaltenders this summer. Not many of the new goalies have panned out for their new teams yet this year.

      I don’t like the staleness of the trade market but, I now do see a bright side to it. It’s giving misfit players more opportunies to find a place in the NHL. Now that teams can’t find something exactly to their liking, they have to take more chances on unproven or underperforming players. This gives these players a chance to find their game, or find the right fit. I champion this cause. I think we all have a soft spot for some player that has promise, but just hasn’t found it yet.

      • Darling was a solid option, I just wanted a show me deal, 1 or 2 years not 4 at 4+, could still work out just unlikely he just flips a switch this year but could be better next $ moving forward. Just a $ issue for me.

      • Darling is not that much different than Andrew Hammond in that he played above his head but for a lot longer. And he’s back to earth and everyone is shocked. It was a bad investment from day one and it may cost them their season that began with much promise.

  7. Columbus wants to add a center not subtract 1. If interested in Brassard & they should be, anyone should be who wants a C as he can be had eventually as he won’t be resigning in Ott, would you?

    If Columbus bids for Brassard it will be a winger, Dman, prospects, picks most likely some combination. Possible players that could come into play that Columbus could potentially afford to give up are, Jenner, Milano, Murray, ?

    • It won’t be a d-man. Jack Johnson is almost guaranteed to be let walk as a UFA, if not traded to a contender at the deadline to make room for Carl Carlsson or Scott Harrington. Right now, the Jackets’ most expendable players are Jenner and Milano. Figure one, or both, of them and a pick.

  8. I picked the Canes to move up in the standings this year. Lindholm has under performed. Faulk has under performed. Throw in Darling and you are not in the post season.
    Canes could move Bean but would not help any team for a couple of years. Fleury would be a lot more desirable

  9. Galchenyuk, Mete and juulsen
    For Draisaitl
    What else montreal needs to add?

    • value?

      • “value?”

        Chrisms, Thanks for the chuckle. This made me laugh.

    • Hell no from Habs. Mete and Juulsen are not going anywhere especially this year. Mtls D is enough of a mess as is no and would be an even greater disaster if our two best D prospects were trade away too.

      Similarly, Lindgren is not going anywhere this year, especially with Montoya out. I said from the start of the year, if Lindgren progressed as expected, Montoya was gone by the deadline. Best plan now is, if healthy, trade Montoya,Lindgren is the back-up for the rest of the year, and think about maybe trading him next deadline especially if Mcniven progresses, but be prepared to hold on to Lindgren as back-up for a season or two.

      • If the Habs were offered that deal they should take it and run away giggling like school girls. Draisaitl is the next Malkin. He is a bonafide 1C with superstar potential and still young.

    • troll

      • tony = troll

      • Who are you?
        Rattus rattus=rat

  10. In thinking of where the Pens should go, I think I would be contacting Vegas and checking in on William Karlsson. Simple $1m cap hit this year (then an RFA) and has been playing some solid hockey this year. This includes showing he was able to reasonably fill in as a 1C or 2C as needed. No idea on if Vegas would trade him, much less what they want, but I suspect it would be less than a Brassard or even a Stajan.

    • What motivation would Vegas have to trade Karlsson? He is worth more than either Brassard & certainly Stajan. His RFA value & play make him more valuable than Brassard who’s a year + from UFA status.

      • STriker..agreed but Rutherford is a big game hunter and maybe he can get a Karlsson, Marchesseault, or a Bozak type player… we can only hope…

      • I don’t see any of those players available before the trade deadline & would be shocked if Karlsson is moved at all. I’d wager Vegas try’s to lock him up for 5+ years at 4.75+ all depends on term.

        I would like to see Karlsson with Marchessault & Smith as their #2 line, for the next 4 or 5 years, sort of a 1B until their home grown talent is ready for more responsibility.

        I didn’t expect Vegas to be in this position, GM has hard decisions to make does he keep all the UFA’s maybe even add players & go for it? Wouldn’t that make an incredible story.

        1st year expansion team wins Cup. Expansion rules would change for sure then they may anyway due to Vegas’s success.

      • I was campaigning for Karlsson at the beginning of the season but he has played so well and he’s so young he’s likely as untouchable in Vegas’ eyes as Theodore, Tuch, and all of their draft picks. I also think that Vegas’ success is not sustainable after this season and they have too many UFAs that if they keep could walk away for nothing. They need to either sign those guys ASAP or trade them for picks and prospects that solidify this teams future. They are a great story no doubt but they are not winning anything this year. They need to stockpile young talent for at least 3 years before they are legitimate. Even in a playoff spot I see them moving players to help build their foundation. Losing players that could have brought in assets just to make the playoffs is very short sighted and long term could hurt more than anything.

    • A. J. I like the way you think! Vegas has like 6 centers Eakin, Marchesseault, Karlsson ALL COULD HELP THE penguins…

      • Marchessault has only played C very briefly in his NHL career, has played all but a handful of games at C. To small to be an Effective NHL C.

  11. Out of all that was written above regarding the Pens, one thing mentioned will NEVER happen … James Neal’s return to Pittsburgh. He was a locker room malignant tumor, treated staff like crap and most likely hasn’t changed much. Believe me or not but I can speak to this accurately. Really good player but … too much baggage and history. And Yes, Evander Kane wouldn’t do much for a 3rd centre issue but he would should look good with Sid or Geno.

    • Can JR offer Hags/Cole and a 1st to OTT for Ryan/Oduya? Ryan can play with Crosby or Malkin…

      • salary retention hasto be worked out but with Hags $ gone and Hornqvist a UFA this summer they may be able to fit Ryan in long term.

  12. Eakin is exactly the player Pens need. Whether he can be secured reasonably is another matter. At least a second plus a non roster maybe more . Still i don’t think he moves if VGK are in the playoffs

    • Playoffs or not Eakin is signed for 2 more years after this season at 3.85, he can play C or RW & is a very responsible player. Vegas probably doesn’t move him till he’s approaching UFA status.

      Vegas targeted players like Eakin, Karlsson, Haula & Lindberg as all play a responsible defensive game & will be solid mentors for Vegas’s kids coming. Karlsson’s offense has been a huge surprise but he had never been given that in Anh or Clb previously.

  13. How much longer will Dubinksy be out?

    to CMB: Brassard & Zack Smith (really gritty 3c) plus pick
    to OTT: Wenneberg & Anderson (both seem losing Tort’s favor)

    • Are you totally insane?!?!?! #1 Anderson isn’t going anywhere. He leads the team in goals. And even if Jarmo was to trade him, he’d demand a better return. Wennberg is snapping out of his early slump (Points in four straight games.). Besides, what kind of moron tries to fill his hole at center by trading away a center?

      • Rhetorical question?

  14. This made me laugh, Columbus giving their 2nd line C for Ottawa’s 2nd line C, because they need a centre. Columbus giving their first round pick who is in the first year of a long term contract, for a 30+ with 1.5 years left. If I’m a Columbus fan, I’d be outraged by that possibility, but since I’m a Sens fan, I’m cautiously curious what’s wrong with this guy if he’s the return for Brassard. Oh, and just what Ottawa needs, yet another forward who just passes the puck and doesn’t shoot. Yes Brassard is a passer also, but at least he can creep close to 20 goals for a season.