NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2018

by | Jan 23, 2018 | Rumors | 31 comments

Top goalie trade options plus the latest on the Canucks and Canadiens in your NHL rumor mill.

Could Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward become a trade target? (Photo via NHL Images)


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton lists Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier, Carolina’s Cam Ward, Buffalo’s Robin Lehner and Detroit’s Petr Mrazek as his top-five goaltending targets at the NHL trade deadline. All are pending free agents (Lehner and Mrazek will be restricted free agents), potentially making them trade fodder.

Clinton feels a team such as the New York Islanders might benefit from taking a shot at Raanta. Bernier would be a good pickup for clubs that miss out on Raanta. The Pittsburgh Penguins might benefit from an experienced hand such as Ward backing up starter Matt Murray. Lehner could be a good option for clubs seeking a long-term goaltending option. Mrazek’s recent improvement could bolster his trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the Coyotes’ struggles, I think they want to retain Raanta. Bernier’s doing a splendid job filling in for sidelined Avs starter Semyon Varlamov so he’s not going anywhere this season. I still have my doubts that the Sabres will move Lehner. 

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford knows Ward well from his days as the Hurricanes’ GM, but with the Canes fighting for a playoff berth I don’t see Ward hitting the trade block. Despite Mrazek’s improved performance, his previous inconsistent still makes him a risky acquisition. 


SPORTSNET/THE VANCOUVER SUN: Iain MacIntyre and Ben Kuzma speculate the Vancouver Canucks’ plans for the Feb. 26 trade deadline could be affected by their plans for Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The twins are unrestricted free agents this summer but they’ve indicated their willingness to return with the Canucks for another season.

If they’re certain to return, it could make it easier to shop pending UFA winger winger Thomas Vanek for the best return possible. If, however, they’re going to retire, perhaps Canucks management will attempt to re-sign Vanek. Their possible retirement could also determine what they seek in return for defenseman Erik Gudbranson. One certainty is the Sedins won’t be moved at the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Sedins are willing to accept reasonable one-year contracts (say, $5 million each), it could be worthwhile having them back for a final season. Both are on pace for respectable 50-plus point performances this season and their experience and leadership could prove beneficial as the club continues to transition toward a younger roster. 


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said he’s finding all the trade talk swirling about him frustrating. He insists he doesn’t want to be traded, adding that his family loves Montreal. 

LA PRESSE:  Alexis Belanger-Champagne reports long-time Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec is trying to ignore rumors he could be dealt by the trade deadline. While acknowledging his name is circulating in the rumor mill, he said he doesn’t know who wants him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty and Plekanec both lack no-trade protection and have no say over their trade status. Of the two, Plekanec seems the most likely trade candidate as he’s a UFA this summer, though his $6-million cap hit could be a stumbling block. If Pacioretty gets moved, that’s more likely to occur in the offseason when the Canadiens could get better offers from clubs flush with extra salary-cap dollars.



  1. Surprising alot of Canuck fans would rather rip the bandaid off and move forward when it comes to Sedins.
    Although they’re 40pt players, they are slow and predictable to play against. Add that to Eriksson and Edler and you got alot of older useless vets and empty seats.

    • It is the lack of talent outside Boeser, Horvat, Tanev, and the Sedins that is killing this team, as well as poor management. Poor drafting, trading for mediocre players, and hoping for a quick retool keeps this team perpetually 3 to 5 years away from improvement.

      • The inconsistent goaltending hasn’t help either. I still don’t know if Markstrom is a number 1 goalie or a really good backup.

      • If not for the loss of Horvat, Baertschi, Sutter, Edler & Tanev for extended periods they would have stayed competitive. How many teams can lose their #1 C & LW #3 C & best checking C & their top 2 Dman & hope to compete?

        The Cancuks were late to the party on the rebuild by at least 2 years but help is coming most is still at least 1 full season away. Petterson, Dahlen & Goldobin at forward & Juolevi at D, Demko is still at least 1 more year away. Goldobin has to clear waivers next season so he’ll start to see sheltered minutes.

        The Canucks have youth in the NHL developing with significant growth still to be had, Horvat, Baertschi, Granlund, Boeser, Virtanen, Hutton, Stecher & Pouliot.

        The Cancuks weren’t in a position to do a full tear down but Benning didn’t have to sign Eriksson, mind boggling. I hope the Cancuks move Vanek for the best offer available & wash rinse & repeat next season if able. Like Tor did with Winnik, moved him at 2 trade deadlines 2 years in a row.

      • Good analysis, Striker. Gaudette and Lind also look very good at this stage in their development (it’s possible Hobie Baker nominee Gaudette will see a few NHL games this year if he turns pro; Lind is a couple of years away but is having a killer season in the WHL). Demko might be a year away from playing an NHL game but I think it’ll take longer before he’s a regular presence on the big team. Pettersson is looking like a very good pick who could have a real impact, but I haven’t heard as much about Dahlen this year.

        Pouliot has been a good acquisition.

        Agree that the Eriksson signing was a big mistake. I said so at the time, not sure if I posted here though. It would have been fine if the term was shorter.

        I’d like to see Benning trade Vanek and Gudbranson at the deadline, preferably picks and D prospects. Vanek has fit very well and could be re-signed (though probably not if the Sedins are re-signed). Ideally he could move Del Zotto too, but that will be very difficult (and the coach seems to like him for some reason).

      • Dahlen is playing well in the Sweden’s 2nd division with 19 goals & 35 points in 30 games. Just turned 20 in late Dec so several years away from the NHL. He may not even come over next season but eventually.

        A 2nd round pick by Ott in 2016, 42nd & had a solid showing in the 2017 WJC’s.

      • The Sedins coming back one more year to continue to mentor Boeser and Horvat isn’t a bad deal. Horvat has enthusiastically called for them to play one more year. If one of the kids like Gaudette, Pettersson or Lockwood make the team, they will learn a lot from professionals like the Sedins. Say what you want about them, but they were, and still are the best players the Canucks have ever had. They can make up the third line if Pettersson comes out of nowhere and wows in main camp, or he can play on a line with them.

    • Your the only 1 I have met so far. We obviously move in different circles. Ha-ha! None of my friends or associates want the Sedin’s to retire yet. Probably an age thing. We want them to play at least 1 more season assuming about the same responsibility as this season but moving to 2nd line PP roles. No 1 to replace them yet.

  2. If Buffalo wants to get a return on Kane they are not setting him up. His centre is Larson a LW with 7 points and 36 year old Pominville on the third line . He had 845 of ice time after 2 periods last night. S Wilson and Girgensons played top 6 . He has 2 points in Jan and 2 goals in his last 16. Maybe it does not matter but I think it would in terms of maximum return

    • I was listening to that discussion on XM91 yesterday. With Girgensons & Wilson playing ahead of him as the top 2 LW’s respectively & Pouliot benched. All players have dry spells, Stamkos hasn’t scored a goal yet in 2018, 9 straight games.

      I expect little in Buf to make sense.

  3. Trade him now before they get a bag of pucks and a fifth round pick

  4. That is strange, you would think they would want to give him plenty of minutes so that scouts can get a good look at him. I guess the other side of the coin is limiting minutes reduces risk for injury, and perhaps helps the team lose a few more games to better their chances at the draft.

    • I think most GMs know what Kane’s value is. Hard to go out and produce every night on a losing team knowing you’re not in their future plans. If I’m Rangers, I’m looking to make a deal today. I have no problem giving up a 1st and 2nd rd pick and a prospect, but Buffalo would have to take Smith!!! Only makes a little more than Georges who is older and a UFA next season.

      • Evander Kane is a headache on and off the ice. As a rental and ufa he certainly isnt worth the fours assets buffalo is looking for. A roster player, A top prospect, A 1st round draft pick and a conditional pick. not thanks

      • Team will not need Kane IMO. Nash coming off the books frees up money to resign RFA Hayes, RFA Miller and UFA Grabner. Desharnais leaves as a UFA and they still have limited cap space to get a #1C. Assets like a 1st or 2nd are going to be crucial in finding that need. Albeit drafting one or using as a centerpiece to trade for. Kane will be out of their price range too. Taking on Kane would sabotage this over achieving season into possibly making the playoffs and losing out on a higher 1st round pick.

        IF the Rangers were truly a playoff team and playing consistent hockey, the only player I may consider taking on front e trade block would be Patches since he has a year remaining. IF i believed he was the missing piece to getting back to the finals IF the Rangers were playing some great hockey consistently. They are not…. so why throw away a 1st and/or 2nd on a large risk.

        IMO the teams biggest 3 needs are a #1C and getting rid of both Staal & Smith’s contracts. They might need that 2nd rd pick to do just that LOL.

      • Slick62…. you mention Gorges. Would you think GM Botterill would take Smith for Gorges and a 7th?

      • NYR entered the season with a hole at C, not a #1 for me specifically as Zibanejad & Hayes have sufficient skills to play their roles but Hayes has really been deployed as the shut down C; seeing no PP time logging all the hard minutes, & Zibaenjad like last season just hasn’t been the same player since returning from injury.

        NYR doesn’t have the depth to cover for injures especially when Zibby was lost for 9 games with a concussion, Hayes now 5 & counting, the Loss of Kreider their #1 LW & Vigneault’s constant punishing of Buchnevich has serious limited their ability to score as well.

        They have hung in there & are still holding down a playoff spot but Kredier’s spot needs to be filled ASAP it needed to be filled long ago.

        The race to the final wild card spot & top 3 spots in the Metro is going to be extremely tight & this sitting on your hands could cost NYR a playoff spot. I had them to make it in Sept still do today but I could easily be wrong & if they don’t get help soon they will miss.

      • It’s your complete inability to see this team that blinds you! If they’re in jeopardy of just missing by adding a Kane…. why bother? Seriously? Does Kane take them from barely being a contender to over the top contenders? …. No!

        You truly can’t let go of your fantasy picks to come clean about being wrong all along about this team! They are NOT contenders regardless of “where you have them”… stop living in the fantasy world!

  5. I can see Plecky gone for sure (ufa and production is down).

    Not sure though about Max Pac. Still got another year at a very nice cap hit, and is still our best offensive player (albeit a slow year).

    It’ll take a very solid package to get him out of Montreal.

  6. Just stating the obvious but Ward is absolutely not an option for the Penguins. Acquiring he and his cap hit makes less than zero sense as Ward would become #4 on the talent chart and overpaid and useless. That is a big no thank you/ think harder next time to that nonsense.

    • I don’t think you need worry. The only goalie I see potentially moved from that list is Mrazek & I’d put that at slim to zero.

      I don’t see Col or Car 2 teams in full playoff battles selling off their back up goalies. If not for Ward Car would be toast as Darling has been an unmitigated disaster.

      Why would Buf move Lehner, how does that make anything better? He has posted solid #’s in Buf, they are down this year but this team is team is awful, they have played almost every game this season from behind. As always put a good even a great goalie behind a bad D & you get a bad goalie. See Price this season, Schneider last & numerous in Edm.

      I assume Mrazek won’t be qualified by Det this summer & he will walk as a UFA.

      • Ward is the starter and Carolina still doesn’t have a goalie better than Ward. Each time Carolina brings in a new goaltender they don’t play any better than Ward because they have to play with the same team in front of them. Ward is an average goalie not a bad goalie. Carolina needs an above average goalie to make the playoffs.

      • The only issue I had with Darling was term. He should have gotten a 1 year show me deal. He’ll get another chance to see if he can be a starter next season as that 4 year 4.15 deal kind of leaves little choice. He may become a very expensive back up again next season or better yet be waived as he’s not even posting bad back up #’s but worse.

        Ideally this is where I would have liked MAF to have landed before he Pit paid Vgs to select him. That’s the problem with wishes by nature, they rarely come true. Carolina’s loss is Vegas’s gain. Ha-ha!

      • You’ve said yourself that you’d be hesitant to sign Lehner to an extension, given his injury history. You move him because Lehner’s going to want a raise and 4+ years, and you don’t want to go there. If JB doesn’t see him as the long term answer, it’s a good time to move on.

    • The Penguins don’t need a back up goalies they have three really good ones in Murray DeSmith and Jarry!

  7. “… Of the two, Plekanec seems the most likely trade candidate as he’s a UFA this summer, though his $6-million cap hit could be a stumbling block …”

    No problem for Habs to retain half his remaining caphit/salary

  8. I watched 3 Bruin Habs games and Plekanec was a ghost in all three,not sure why any team would trade for him he definitely is not an upgrade.

  9. Trade Patches, trade the Turtleneck, trade Gallagher? Why would anyone want Montreals underperforming disappear at playoff time smurfs? Makes zero sense to me. Only Habs with trade value are Price (next to impossible to move, underperforming and mega contract), Weber (next to impossible to move due to age and huge contract) and maybe their no show captain Patches if someone is desperate for a playoff dud.

    Good luck unloading those guys. Habs suck and will for a very long time, lol.

  10. Obe, you clearly didn’t watch the 3 games then and just took a gander at the boxscores.. Plekanec actually did well in the faceoff dot against one of the best in the league: Bergeron. I am a Bruins fan and I can honestly say Plekanec would make a grwat add for any team. He is a solid penalty killer and wins faceoffs. That’s huge in the playoffs!!

    • Bravo for you Zorro For your smart comment on Pleks and Classy.
      Most Bruins fans are blinded by there own hatred for years of frustration from the Habs. PLEKS is a solid two way player not a Bergy but a third liner that would be very useful.
      Glad your Bruins are trending in the right direction. Great coach and Team work ethic they look unbeatable! Even Tuuka is playing lights out.

  11. Mrazek might not be an upgrade for any fringe post season team but seems most likely traded. Colorado would be better off shipping out Varlamov than Bernier. Ward won a cup, though not sure many if any want him now. He could go on a nice run or streak in playoffs… A change of teams could give him the Devan Dubnyk affect :).

    Montreal has a fair amt of talent who might be worth trades… Max is the most obvious, Shea Weber would be nice for many, Plekanic isn’t that bad for team needing a center. In general they had a decent team not long ago but mismanaged/bad trades/cheap at wrong time… Losing Markov didn’t help them, not wanting to pay Radulov… You pinch pennies getting cheap but overpay a goalie like 10M+ a year for sure?

    Kings should be shopping Dustin Brown if any team dumb enough to bite :). Carolina could use a goal scorer forward since none even have 18 goals. They had like Skinner or so at 14 a far cry from his goal scoring prime. If not for the Brown contract Kings would still have Justin Williams… HE had 20+ goals like 2 years in row after leaving them unlike the dud Brown. HE has about 8 for Carolina now if he can get hot it would help their chances. While many point to the goalies for them they don’t have impressive forwards when it comes to goal totals. I think they have a nice young D who can produce so its a shame.

    Least in about a month all this speculation will be done. Rumors everyday is great or draining depending :). If Kings traded Forbort it would be a great Bday present though ;). Only logic can see playing him w/ Drew is if going to trade him :). Vancouver should trade the Sedin twins even if they plan to sign them again next year. Might as well get a sure return for an uncertain market or future :).