Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 31, 2017
Updates on Max Pacioretty, Mike Hoffman, Kris Letang and Anthony Duclair in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
CANADIENS REPORTEDLY SHOPPING PACIORETTY
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is “actively shopping” team captain Max Pacioretty. “While an eventual trade may include draft picks and prospects, it’s been clear to other teams that Bergevin’s top priority is moving him for a top goal-scorer back”, preferably one younger than the 29-year-old left winger. Given how long it took for the Colorado Avalanche to trade Matt Duchene, it could take a while for Bergevin to find a suitable deal. If there’s not one to be had by the Feb. 26 trade deadline, the Habs GM could be willing to wait until the 2018 NHL Draft in June.
Colleague Elliotte Friedman also cites a rival GM who feels the struggling Pacioretty feels responsible as captain to try and to find answers for his club’s current woes. The source also believes the reason the Habs set a high asking price is they know if Pacioretty can go someplace where he can just play hockey without distractions that he could regain his scoring touch and take off.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien points out trading a veteran scorer mired in an offensive slump can blow up in a GM’s face, citing the Edmonton Oilers shipping winger Jordan Eberle last summer to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome. Given Pacioretty’s five 30-goal seasons and his affordable $4.5 million annual salary-cap hit through 2018-19, O’Brien suggests a savvy GM could fleece Bergevin. However, he points out this is merely a report by Kypreos and isn’t indicative of an imminent deal. “This could be the Canadiens leaking out an idea merely to dip their toes in the water.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Canadiens playoff hopes fading and his top scorer firing blanks in December, it’s not surprising that Bergevin would quietly investigate Pacioretty’s trade value. I don’t doubt there’s plenty of clubs lacking scoring punch who’d love to acquire the Canadiens’ captain. But as O’Brien observes, it’s highly unlikely Bergevin will get a fair return right now. The Habs GM has Pacioretty under contract for another season so he doesn’t have to rush into anything.
If this season ends with the Canadiens out of the playoffs, changes will be coming to the roster. Pacioretty, who’ll be a year away from unrestricted free agent status by that point, could be among them. For that matter, Bergevin could also be part of those changes if team owner Geoff Molson decides it’s time for a management shakeup.
UPDATE ON HOFFMAN AND THE SENATORS
Friedman also reports there’s “some linkage” between the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman. He notes the Blues have plenty of forward prospects, such as Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas and Klim Kostin, as well as sidelined forward Robby Fabbri, that could interest the Senators. With veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester returning from injury, Friedman believes the Blues will do something, whether it’s with the Senators for Hoffman or somebody else.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion could be involved in trade discussions with several of his peers as he attends the final week of the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo. He claims Dorion’s been working the phones for the past three weeks trying to determine the trade market if his club makes changes before the trade deadline. Garrioch said other GMs are calling to ask about “Hoffman, centres Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Derick Brassard and defenceman Cody Ceci.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those potential discussions in Buffalo this week could set the stage for a significant move by Dorion leading up to the trade deadline. Garrioch said the Sens don’t want to do a full teardown and rebuild, but instead could move one or two veteran players for younger talent and/or draft picks and prospects.
The Blues could certainly be a suitor for Hoffman. Friedman also suggested the Carolina Hurricanes as a trade partner last week. I would also include the Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks.
Of the aforementioned players, Hoffman remains the one generating the most attention in the rumor mill. He could be the most likely to go, but only if Dorion gets a suitable return. He won’t trade Hoffman simply for the sake of making a deal. Brassard and Ceci could also attract interest as the trade deadline approaches. So could Pageau, though I don’t think his trade value is as high as the other three.
LATEST ON LETANG
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports some NHL scouts believe it would be hard for the Pittsburgh Penguins to find a deal involving defenseman Kris Letang that would improve their current performance. While there are undoubtedly teams that could see Letang as the missing piece that could make them Stanley Cup contenders, Bombulie doubts they either have sufficient cap space for the blueliner’s $7.25 million annual cap hit or the willingness to part with the hefty return the Penguins would seek. One scout said it would have to be a hockey trade and not a money dump.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Letang trade speculation seemingly came to a screeching halt following numerous reports on Friday denying claims the Pens were shopping the veteran defenseman. As I’ve noted before, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pens quietly gauged Letang’s trade value, but his hefty contract, on-ice struggles and lengthy injury history probably puts him into the “buyer beware” category this season.
SHOULD THE RANGERS BRING BACK DUCLAIR?
NEW YORK POST: In the wake of the New York Rangers losing winger Chris Kreider (blood clot) sidelined at least two months and possibly longer, Larry Brooks suggests they look into reacquiring winger Anthony Duclair from the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers shipped Duclair to the Coyotes at the 2015 trade deadline to acquire defenseman Keith Yandle. While Brooks doesn’t advocate giving up a valuable asset, he notes Duclair still has “top-end skill in a league that rewards it”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair had a promising 20-goal, 44-point rookie performance with the Coyotes in 2015-16 but he’s struggled to regain that form. Maybe moving to a deeper, veteran-laden club would help relieve the pressure and aid him in improving his play. He’s a restricted free agent in July and it wouldn’t be a shock if he got moved by the trade deadline or during the NHL draft.