NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2018
TSN updates its trade bait board, updates on Jack Johnson and Ben Hutton plus the latest on the Rangers, Sharks and Jets in your NHL Rumor Mill.
FIVE NAMES ADDED TO TSN TRADE BAIT LIST
TSN: Frank Seravalli updated his NHL trade bait list, adding Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York Rangers winger Michael Grabner and blueliner Nick Holden and San Jose Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson’s recent trade request explains why he joins the list. He addressed the situation yesterday, stressing the request was made to ensure his financial security. Johnson filed for bankruptcy four years ago after his parents lost most of his money through high-risk loans. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said there are teams “kicking tires” on Johnson but he stressed he won’t move the blueliner unless it’s a deal that makes sense for the team. Johnson has recently started seeing an increase in playing time, which could improve his trade value,
Pageau’s among several Senators who’ve regularly popped up in recent weeks as possible trade bai . Grabner and Holden are among several players who could hit the trade block if the Rangers decide to become sellers at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
Dell has surfaced several times as a possible trade option for playoff contenders seeking goaltending depth. However, The Mercury News’ Paul Gackle believes trading the 28-year-old backup “is no longer a viable option” as starter Martin Jones has struggled since returning from a minor injury on Dec. 2.
LATEST ON THE RANGERS AND SHARKS
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Bob McKenzie’s Wednesday appearance on NBCSN discussing recent New York Rangers trade speculation. McKenzie said they’re not committed to trading defenseman Ryan McDonagh. However, he notes the club has been reloading since last year, trading Derek Stepan to Arizona and buying out Dan Girardi. He believes they’re doing due diligence in case they fall out of playoff contention and get an incredible offer for McDonagh, winger Mats Zuccarello or pending unrestricted free agents such as Rick Nash or Michael Grabner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, they won’t be staging a fire sale if they drop out of contention by the Feb. 26 trade deadline but they could be willing to entertain reasonable offers. Could they ship out one or two notable players? Sure, anything’s possible. Will they? Depends upon where they are in the standings in a month’s time.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle reports sources say the San Jose Sharks are “actively shopping” for a fourth-line center. He thinks Sharks GM Doug Wilson and head coach Pete DeBoer are crossing their fingers hoping recently demoted veteran defenseman Paul Martin plays well enough in the minors to attract interest from rival NHL clubs.
Gackle feels Martin could be the Sharks’ only reasonable trade chip, as he doesn’t expect they’ll shop backup goalie Aaron Dell or a young defenseman such as Tim Heed, Dylan DeMelo or Joakim Ryan. Wilson has previously stated his unwillingness to move any of his young forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gackle points out fourth-line centers aren’t expensive to acquire. If Martin performs well in the minors, he could fetch that center via trade.
UPDATES ON THE JETS AND CANUCKS.
WINNIPEG SUN: Despite the Jets’ lofty position in the Western Conference standings, Ken Wiebe suggests they should be buyers before the trade deadline. He notes the roster doesn’t have much playoff experience and could benefit from adding a scoring winger or center. He feels Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard could be an enticing trade option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t have a history as a major wheeler-dealer near the trade deadline. However, he could make a move or two this year to bolster his roster depth for the playoffs. Brassard could be a good addition, though recent reports out of Ottawa suggest he might not be going anywhere.
THE ATHLETIC: JD Burke noted recently conflicting reports regarding the trade status of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton. Earlier this month, The Province’s Jason Botchford reported Canucks GM Jim Benning denied a report by the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claiming the club was entertaining calls for the blueliner. Burke explored the pros and cons of moving Hutton, suggesting there’s merit to either outcome.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If we take Benning at his word, Hutton’s not available. Maybe his trade status will change leading up to the trade deadline. Time will tell.