NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2018
Updates on Wayne Simmonds, Patrick Maroon, Evander Kane, Chris Tanev and more in your NHL rumor mill.
SIMMONDS STAYING, MAROON GOING?
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Elliotte Friedman telling Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 that he believes the Philadelphia Flyers will retain right wing Wayne Simmonds. Friedman believes the Flyers love Simmonds’ game and considers him difficult to replace. The 29-year-old winger is eligible in 2019 for unrestricted free agency and he could prove expensive to re-sign, but Friedman suggest there’s still plenty of time for the Flyers to address that issue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: During the Flyers’ lengthy winless skid earlier this season, Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos floated the notion that they could shop Simmonds if things didn’t improve. Since then, the Flyers have improved their fortunes and sit just two points out of a wild-card spot. I don’t them them shopping any key players.
Nichols also cited Friedman expressing his belief winger Patrick Maroon is unlikely to finish this season with the Edmonton Oilers. “I think he’s going to get traded,” he said. ““I don’t think there’s a doubt that he’s going to get traded.” Friedman feels there will be interest in Maroon, who’ll be more affordable than Buffalo’s Evander Kane or Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the Oilers playoff hopes fade, the Maroon trade speculation grows. I share Friedman’s opinion that the big winger gets dealt. His age (he turns 30 in April), average skating, inconsistent production and what’s likely to be his request for a substantial raise over his current $2-million annual cap hit means he’ll be playing elsewhere by Feb. 26 as a playoff rental.
LATEST ON EVANDER KANE AND CHRIS TANEV
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked if the San Jose Sharks might pursue Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane. He believes it would make sense for the Sharks to have interest in Kane, noting they have sufficient cap space to take on his $5.25-million cap hit. The Sabres asking price (first-round pick, prospect, conditional pick) won’t be cheap and Kurz doesn’t see the Sharks making a deal like that unless they’re confident of re-signing Kane.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Kane could be a solid fit on the Sharks. However, the Sharks lack picks in the second and third rounds of this year’s draft and could be unwilling to part with one of their top prospects. I’m not saying they couldn’t make this move, especially if the Kane camp is willing to re-sign, but general manager Doug Wilson could look at a cheaper option at the trade deadline and pursue Kane via free agency.
THE ATHLETIC: Mike Halford believes the time is right for the Vancouver Canucks to shop defenseman Chris Tanev. He observes the current soft trade market for quality defensemen could work to the rebuilding Canucks’ advantage, ensuring they net a quality return. Halford also points out Tanev, 28, could be a depreciating asset when the Canucks finally improve, plus there could be unforeseen difficulty in re-signing him when his current contract expires in 2020.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Halford makes a convincing case. However, the Canucks don’t have to rush into anything here. If they can’t find a suitable offer by the trade deadline, they could have better luck this summer. It’s also possible there could be a change in management after this season, which could also affect what kind of return the Canucks could get for Tanev.
UPDATES ON THE LEAFS AND JETS
TSN: Darren Dreger reports “most league executives” believed the Toronto Maple Leafs will retain pending unrestricted free agents James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov. There’s plenty of trade speculation regarding the trio. Dreger cites one NHL manager suggesting the Leafs could get a quality return of assets for the three at the trade deadline which they could use “to roll those assets over on the draft floor in June into a top-pair defenceman or other pieces” that could improve their contender hopes. Ultimately, Dreger feels the Leafs won’t move those three at the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs management likely wants to continue building with youth but also don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes their playoff hopes this season. Barring a major collapse between now and Feb. 26, I don’t see the Leafs becoming sellers.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun recently speculated the Winnipeg Jets could make a move to boost their lineup by the trade deadline. He said he’s hearing GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is talking to other teams, though there’s nothing imminent on the horizon. If the price is right, LeBrun thinks Cheveldayoff could trade for a center. Mark Scheifele, the Jets first-line center, is currently sidelined until February with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff doesn’t have much of a reputation as a wheeler-dealer. However, with his club riding high in the standings and looking like a serious playoff contender, he could be motivated to perhaps bring in a little more skilled depth. The Jets could be worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.