NHL Rumor Mill – January 30, 2018
Latest on the Leafs and Capitals plus a look at how some Central Division clubs could affect the trade market in your NHL rumor mill.
LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION
TSN: Frank Seravalli believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to evaluate their roster heading toward the trade deadline. While the Leafs brass feels their club can be a contender in the playoffs, they haven’t looked like one in the last two months. They’ve been reeling at times and appeared fragile. Seravalli wonders what this could mean for pending unrestricted free agents James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov. Do the Leafs retain them for the playoffs or look toward next year by shopping them?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s comments came in the midst of a segment discussing possible moves around the league. Darren Dreger noted the Pittsburgh Penguins are hungry to win another Stanley Cup and general manager Jim Rutherford is expected to find a way to help his roster. Dreger also expects Nashville Predators GM David Poile could try to add to improve his club’s Cup hopes. Dave Poulin, meanwhile, expects the Ottawa Senators will make some moves to clear roster spot for their younger players.
I still believe the Leafs will retain those pending UFAs for the stretch run and the playoffs. However, I can’t fully dismiss the possibility of one of them getting dealt if the Leafs fail to snap out of their recent funk. We’ll have to see how things unfold over the next three weeks.
Appearing yesterday morning on Leafs Breakfast, Darren Dreger was asked about whether Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson or Los Angeles Kings blueliner Drew Doughty would be a better fit for the Leafs if they become available via free agency next year. He thinks they would be most interested in Doughty because of his Stanley Cup experience and his two-way game. However, Dreger still think Doughty will stay with the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson and Doughty won’t be trade candidates at this year’s deadline. However, one or both could become available as early as this summer if contract extension talks go south. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on Karlsson or Doughty in the comments section, Leafs fans.
CENTRAL DIVISION CLUBS COULD AFFECT TRADE DEADLINE PRICES
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates several Central Division clubs could get competitive in the trade market leading up to the Feb. 26 deadline. Nashville Predators GM David Poile expects to speak to other clubs soon, perhaps to add more scoring punch to his lineup. The St. Louis Blues seek a top-six forward to replace sidelined Robby Fabbri. LeBrun suggests those two team might get into the bidding for wingers such as Max Pacioretty, Mike Hoffman, Rick Nash, Evander Kane, Michael Grabner or others.
LeBrun wonders if the Dallas Stars could seek more secondary scoring. A source said the Colorado Avalanche could use a top-nine winger. The Winnipeg Jets could use a veteran center with some playoff experience.
The Minnesota Wild could also use a top-nine forward but might stand pat after giving up assets last year for Martin Hanzal, while the Chicago Blackhawks might have an eye toward the future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Predators and Blues could be the most aggressive heading toward the trade deadline. As LeBrun notes, there’s a sense the Preds’ time is now. Having reached the Final last year, they’re hungry for another shot at winning the Cup. The Blues have successfully transitioned toward a younger core but could use more offensive depth for the postseason.
There’s speculation the Avs could dangle defenseman Tyson Barrie to bring in a winger. That’s based on their solid performance while Barrie was sidelined with a hand injury. However, his imminent return could also provide a boost to their offensive game.
The Stars and Jets could be buyers for affordable rental talent this year. The Wild could stand pat while the Blackhawks might become sellers if they fail to gain ground in the standings.
COULD GREEN RETURN TO THE CAPITALS?
THE WASHINGTON POST: Jesse Dougherty noted the trade speculation swirling around Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, who recently reunited with former Washington Capitals teammates Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin at the 2018 All-Star Game. Green is eligible this summer for UFA status. He said he hasn’t had any contract extension talks with the Wings. He hopes to remain with the club but Dougherty believes he could also become a significant trade chip for the Wings. When asked about the possibility of returning to the Capitals by the deadline, Green said he hadn’t given it much thought. He noted he went through some adversity during his tenure in Washington but felt it made him a better player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Green didn’t elaborate about what that adversity was, but he did suffer two serious injuries that hampered his game and raised questions about his defensive play. Dougherty suggests Green’s offensive skills could make him a good fit with the Capitals. That depends, of course, on whether he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause to return to the city where he had his best seasons. Other contenders in need of a puck-moving defenseman with a right-handed shot will also be looking at him.