NHL Rumor Mill – December 30, 2017
Updates on Kris Letang plus the latest Senators speculation in your NHL rumor mill.
MIXED MESSAGES ON LETANG’S TRADE STATUS?
DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.COM: On Thursday, Matt Gajtka reported “an industry source” told him Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was “definitely available” for interested teams to pursue via the trade market. He noted Letang has a limited no-trade clause allowing him to choose 18 destinations, though he wasn’t able to confirm if Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford asked the blueliner for that list or if he’s waived his general no-movement clause. Gajtka noted Rutherford said earlier this month he wasn’t shopping his core players but wonders if their recent struggles changed his mind.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey yesterday reported a “team source” took issue with recent reports out of Canada claiming Letang was being actively shopped by the Penguins, denying the veteran rearguard was on the trade block. Letang (lower body) is currently on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Are the Penguins shopping Letang? I don’t believe so. Despite his on-ice difficulties this season, he’s still a valuable part of their roster. Could be they willing to entertain offers? Sure, why not. Makes sense to at least see what value he has in the trade market. Will Letang be traded this season? Doubtful. Assuming the Penguins are willing to make that deal, it’s not impossible to move his $7.25-million annual salary-cap hit. However, his long history of injuries could dampen interest in his services.
LATEST SENATORS SPECULATION
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites insider Elliotte Friedman’s appearance Friday on Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650 discussing Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman. He believes the St. Louis Blues are “looking pretty hard” at Hoffman, who have “good prospects” (Tage Thompson, Klim Kostin) that could interest the Sens.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: George Richards reports Senators center Derick Brassard isn’t averse to the notion of perhaps returning to the Blue Jackets one day. Brassard is signed through 2018-19 with a $5-million annual cap hit and a modified no-trade clause. “Let’s say it this way: I will play hockey anywhere,” said Brassard following the Sens practice yesterday. He stressed that his job is playing hockey in Ottawa, but he added he wouldn’t refuse to go anywhere.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis still believes the New York Islanders have the assets to pursue defenseman Erik Karlsson if the Senators decide to shop him. While he considers Isles rookie center Mathew Barzal a “non-starter” in any trade discussions, he wonders if a pitch of “Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang — and/or Ryan Pulock — plus a first-rounder and two conditional seconds” might tempt the Sens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators are shopping Hoffman and want to get younger, perhaps a package from the Blues with Thompson or Kostin as the center piece could do the trick.
Brassard could be just the ticket to address the Blue Jackets’ need for skilled depth at center and Columbus has depth in young players to use as trade bait. I recently suggested struggling Alexander Wennberg as one option. Granted, the Jackets could be reluctant to do that. But if they’re in “win now” mode it’s not a far-fetched notion.
As for Karlsson, if the Senators put him on the block, it won’t happen until next summer at the earliest. The Isles won’t be the only club trying to land him. And if they re-sign superstar center John Tavares, they could be unwilling to invest $11 million annually in re-signing Karlsson, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.