NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2018
Available NHL defensemen plus updates on Evander Kane, Alex Galchenyuk, Jimmy Howard and more in your NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports notable defensemen such as Columbus’ Jack Johnson, San Jose’s Paul Martin and Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf are on the trade market, with Detroit’s Mike Green coming soon. The actual salaries of Martin and Phaneuf are lower than their average annual values. Phaneuf also carries a 12-team trade list. Martin’s is smaller but his agent has permission to ask around Green is a pending unrestricted free agent and has a full no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All of those blueliners carry annual cap hits over $4.8 million and all but Johnson have some form of no-trade protection. Still, that doesn’t mean they won’t be moved by the trade deadline. Indeed, we saw Phaneuf dealt midway through 2015-16 to the Senators so anything’s possible. Still, their salaries and trade clauses could be sticking points in any potential deals. They could still be traded but it won’t be easy overcoming those hurdles.
Friedman also wonders if New York Rangers blueliner Ryan McDonagh might join that list. He speculates the Blueshirts could listen to offers for McDonagh and winger Mats Zuccarello but only if they’re given good reason to pursue a deal for either player. They could be willing to move pending UFAs such as Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, David Desharnais and Nick Holden.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think we’ll get a better ideas of the Rangers plans once the calendar flips to February. If they’re still hanging onto a playoff spot they could be reluctant to part with anyone. But if they fall out of contention, they could start peddling their UFAs. Sure, they can listen to offers for McDonagh or Zuccarello, but I think they’ll stand a better chance of moving them (if that’s their intention) in the offseason.
The Columbus Blue Jackets need scoring and were looking closely at Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk at times this season. Friedman isn’t sure if the Jackets are still interested.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos noted the Habs remain interested in Jackets’ center Pierre-Luc Dubois and speculated the youngster might not be an untouchable. I disagree with that assessment and I don’t see Columbus moving their first-line center. However, if Dubois were available, would the Jackets accept Galchenyuk in return? Discuss!
After wondering last week if the New York Islanders might consider Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner, Friedman said he was told by a source to “stop wondering”, leading him to conclude they’re not going there.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not convinced the Sabres want to part with Lehner. Yes, I know, he’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer and a year away from UFA eligibility. Yes, they have promising Linus Ullmark in their system. But I think it would be a mistake to move Lehner and use the largely untested Ullmark as their full-time starter. Unless Lehner forces a trade, I think the Sabres might prefer re-signing him to a one- or two-year deal and employ Ullmark as his backup until the latter is fully prepared to become their starting netmidner.
Also shot down: a rumor claiming the Washington Capitals were shopping winger Andre Burakovsky for a defenseman.
Friedman cited colleague Nick Kypreos saying the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators were rebuffed in their attempts to acquire defenseman Slater Koekkoek from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The New Jersey Devils have taken a look at New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson. With those rivals fighting for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, Friedman doubts that move takes place.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles could use Nelson as trade bait for a top-four defenseman but I don’t see them shipping him to the Devils.
Friedman doesn’t think the Vancouver Canucks will trade defenseman Chris Tanev. He also speculates they could keep pending UFA winger Thomas Vanek and re-sign him, though he’s not certain of that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vanek has developed a strong chemistry with rookie sensation Brock Boeser, becoming a mentor as well. Vanek has said he’d like to stay with the Canucks beyond this season. If his asking price is reasonable, perhaps he’ll get his wish.
There’s rumors the Boston Bruins have told teams they’re not trading their best young players and prospects.
LATEST FROM TSN’S INSIDERS
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Buffalo Sabres asking price for left wing Evander Kane could be rising. It was originally reported the Sabres sought “a first round draft pick, a prospect and a conditional draft pick”, but Sabres general manager Jason Botterill could also want an NHL player included in that package.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t blame Botterill for trying to get as much as he can for Kane. However, I very much doubt he’ll get a first rounder, a prospect, a conditional pick and an NHL player. A first-rounder and a prospect or a conditional pick seems a more likely return, though we should never underestimate the ability of some NHL GMs to succumb to auction fever during a bidding war near the trade deadline.
Bob McKenzie reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has spoken a lot with Botterill regarding Evander Kane but the winger could prove too expensive for Rutherford to acquire. The Penguins need depth at the center position and could look at some such as Edmonton’s Mark Letestu. Defenseman Ian Cole, who’s fallen out of favor with Pens coach Mike Sullivan, could be used as trade bait to acquire a center.
Pierre LeBrun reports defenseman Mike Green hasn’t hit the trade market yet because the Detroit Red Wings haven’t given up on the season yet. He carries a $6 million salary-cap hit with a full no-trade clause. If the Wings put him on the trade block, LeBrun speculates the Tampa Bay Lightning could have interest in him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are considered the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if they go for it by bolstering their roster near the trade deadline. They will have over $11 million of projected cap space by the trade deadline so they have room to pick up a quality veteran or two. Green could certainly prove enticing, depending upon the asking price and if the Wings are willing to pick up part of that cap hit.
LeBrun also believes the Columbus Blue Jackets’ asking price for defenseman Jack Johnson could be a forward. They don’t want a rental deal where they get draft picks in return.
The demotion of San Jose Sharks defenseman Paul Martin to the minors could give the blueliner the opportunity to create a better market for himself. LeBrun said a couple of contenders called but they want to see Martin play.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites LeBrun’s Tuesday evening appearance on Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing the New York Islanders desire to bolster their top-four defense. Even when currently sidelined d-men Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan were healthy, LeBrun said the Isles blueline wasn’t good enough.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted earlier, I can see the Isles shopping a forward like Brock Nelson if he can bring in a top-four blueliner who has tenure remaining on his contract.
UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS AND COYOTES
THE DETROIT NEWS: John Niyo believes Mike Green should be one sought-after rental player on the Red Wings roster leading up to the trade deadline. He also believes GM Ken Holland should explore shopping blueliner Trevor Daley and perhaps wingers Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. If they really want to restock their shelves, Niyo advocates seriously offering up veteran goaltender Jimmy Howard, noting he’s only got one year remaining on his contract ($5.291 million cap hit). He suggests a playoff contender, such as the NY Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks, could have interest in Howard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles definitely need help between the pipes. If Corey Crawford is sidelined for the season, the Blackhawks could be pushed into the goalie market if they lack confidence in backups Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. I think the Wings prefer to retain Howard and instead shop Petr Mrazek, but the latter’s trade value has significantly sunk over the past two years. Holland might not be shopping Howard now, but if a club or two comes calling he should be willing to listen.
Per recent reports the Coyotes have made D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson & Jason Demers available, or they’ve set the market on those players, my understanding is the reports are baseless. I wouldn’t call Demers untouchable, but I don’t think there’s anything to this.
— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) January 16, 2018