NHL Rumor Mill – January 22, 2018
Updates on the Canadiens, Erik Karlsson, the Bruins and Lightning in your NHL rumor mill.
CANADIENS AND SENATORS
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s Friday appearance on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing the teams that could soon get busy in the NHL trade market. He said Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is making calls and believes “there’s action” around Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. Friedman considers Carey Price and perhaps young defenseman Victor Mete as the only untouchables on the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Bergevin is making calls and expect he’ll swing a deal or two by the trade deadline. The Canadiens will be sellers and Pacioretty and/or Galchenyuk could be on the move. However, Bergevin won’t move either guy simply for the sake of doing so. If he doesn’t find a suitable deal by the deadline, he’ll wait until this summer and try again. Both players are under contract beyond this season so Bergevin isn’t under pressure to ship them out by the deadline.
Friedman was also asked about Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion’s remarks on Thursday suggesting he’d listen to offers for defenseman Erik Karlsson. He guessed they were laying the groundwork for the possibility of trading Karlsson. Friedman believes the blueliner wants to finish his career as a Senators but suggested his preference could be staying under different ownership. “But I think the Senators sent the word out that if you really are serious, give us a call with a serious offer. I guess he’s going to be somebody that teams are going to fish on.”
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators want to re-sign Karlsson, not trade him. Noting Dorion was attempting to protect himself with a “never-say-never” scenario (bringing up the fact even Wayne Gretzky got traded), it was interpreted by some scribes as the Sens listening to offers. Karlsson, meanwhile, believes there’s no comparison to his status and that of Gretzky’s 30 years ago. “It’s true, it happened, but by no means am I anywhere even close to that, so I don’t even know why the parallel is even being drawn to that,” Karlsson said.
Karlsson is 18 months away from his eligibility for unrestricted free agent status. He said whatever’s been said about his trade status should be taken with a grain of salt. The earliest the Sens can open contract discussions with Karlsson is July 1, one year from his UFA eligibility date. Garrioch cited league executives speculating the only Senators untouchables are Karlsson, Mark Stone and perhaps Thomas Chabot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s possible the Senators could trade Karlsson at the trade deadline but I don’t see it happening. As Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos noted on Saturday, no team is going to give up a big chunk of their future to acquire Karlsson when they don’t even know what he’s seeking on his next contract.
Karlsson indicated last fall he won’t consider a hometown discount and could seek full market value, but there could be a big difference between what Karlsson, the Senators or other clubs consider as his true free-agent value. If the Sens decide to trade him, it’ll be because they can’t agree on a new contract. The earliest that decision could come is around early July.
BRUINS AND LIGHTNING
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy speculates over possible moves by the Bruins in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. If they test the trade waters, he believes they’ll seek a left defenseman and a winger, with the winger (preferably a right-handed shot) being the priority.
The Bruins could go in different directions. If they continue winning, perhaps they’ll stand pat and draw upon their farm system if necessary. If they start to struggle, maybe that’ll better define their needs. Perhaps they move out a player on an expiring contract, such as Ryan Spooner, to bring in another player. If they pursue a big fish in the trade waters, they’ll have to move salary to make room.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins GM Don Sweeney is likely keeping an eye on the trade market, but with his club playing well right now, he’s in no hurry to make a move. I think he’s content to remain patient over the next three or four weeks and see how things unfold for his club, and the shape of the market as the trade deadline draws near.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith believes the Lightning “could really use a faceoff man like the Ducks’ Antoine Vermette.” The Lightning sit 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage. He also notes Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi and Mikhail Sergachev are logging the bulk of the blueline minutes and wouldn’t be surprised if the Lightning pursue a defenseman at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After dominating the league standings for months, the Lightning have dropped five of their last eight game. The Vegas Golden Knights have overtaken them in the overall standings while the Bruins and Washington Capitals are closing the gap in the Eastern Conference standings.
I don’t believe Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will hit the panic button here, as his club is in no danger of tumbling out of playoff contention. However, he’s fully aware of his club’s weaknesses and could make a move or two in the coming weeks to address them.