NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2018
Updates on Rick Nash, Max Pacioretty, Evander Kane & Mike Hoffman plus the latest on the Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
NASH’S TRADE VALUE DECLINING?
NEW YORK POST: Noting New York Rangers winger Rick Nash was taken off the club’s top power-play unit in last night’s 5-2 loss to Chicago, Larry Brooks wonders “what exactly does that say about Nash and his value to the team both on the ice and as a pending free-agent rental approaching the deadline?”
Brooks points out Nash has gone goalless in eight games and has tallied twice in his last 21 contests. He also wonders if Nash, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is worth holding onto if Rangers GM Jeff Gorton receives offers that could include a first-round pick as the trade deadline nears.
“Seriously, would the Rangers trade Nash for say, the 56th and 95th picks in the draft if that’s the best that’s offered, or would Gorton keep the winger for the playoff push and deal with the winger’s pending free agency following the tournament?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After being red hot through November and early December, the Rangers have won five of their last 10 games and hold one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference. If they’re still in postseason contention they could retain Nash. But even if they decide to shop him at the deadline, the decline in his production will hurt his trade value. At this point, I don’t see another team offering up a first-round pick to acquire him as a playoff rental.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes left wing Max Pacioretty understands his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens is coming to an end. “The big question is if it happens at the trade deadline or the draft,” writes Friedman, noting Habs general manager Marc Bergevin is aware he’d be selling low at this time while Pacioretty could improve elsewhere skating alongside better linemates. He feels Bergevin is comfortable waiting to move his captain, who has a year remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens decide to trade Pacioretty I doubt that move occurs at the Feb. 26 trade deadline. That’s a deal that likely occurs in late-June, perhaps during the NHL Draft weekend in Dallas. The Habs will get better offers at that point than they will now. With Pacioretty under contract through next season, Bergevin doesn’t have to move him now.
While the success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights means they won’t be sellers in this year’s trade market, there’s plenty elsewhere to tempt teams seeking scorers. Friedman lists Pacioretty, Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane and Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman as possibilities. He wonders how their respective remaining contract term (Pacioretty has a year left, Hoffman has two and Kane is a UFA this summer) might affect their trade value.
Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be a destination for Hoffman, as they’re loaded with prospects that could interest the Sens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman having two years left on his contract could make him more attractive and perhaps help the Sens land a solid return. Kane will be a rental player but he could fetch a first-round pick and a quality prospect for the Sabres.
PROPOSED DESTINATIONS FOR PACIORETTY
SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon lists the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild as “sensible landing spots” for Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty.
Dixon feels Pacioretty might pair well with Flames center Mikael Backlund and wonders if the Habs might have interest in Flames center Sam Bennett. He believes a Pacioretty-for- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems less likely now. Nugent-Hopkins is among the few bright spots for the Oilers this season while the Habs might seek younger assets.
Pacioretty could be a good fit on the same line as Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell, while the Habs could focus on a young Ducks defenseman such as Brandon Montour. Dixon suggests a swap of Pacioretty to the Kings for “the always hurt” Marian Gaborik if he’s bundled with a couple of quality prospects.
The Hurricanes need scoring punch and Dixon proposes a package with young blueliner Haydn Fleury heading the other way. Wild blueliner Matt Dumba could interest the Canadiens if Minnesota was interested in boosting their offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames already have Matthew Tkachuk as their second-line left wing. Unless they shift him to the right side, Pacioretty isn’t a fit there. The Oilers, meanwhile, might prefer a younger longer-term option, as Pacioretty would prove expensive to re-sign next year.
The Ducks could be a good fit, provided they’re willing to part with one of those good young defensemen. The Habs won’t have any interest in Gaborik, regardless of the prospects packaged with him. I think the Hurricanes biggest need is a scoring center, which Pacioretty won’t address. The Wild remain committed to Dumba so I don’t see Minnesota as a destination.
LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden was “suspiciously non-committal” regarding the future of GM Jim Benning in yesterday’s mid-season press scrum discussing the state of the club. Benning is in his fourth season as Canucks GM. Earlier this season, there was talk earlier this season that he could receive a contract extension but Linden sidestepped the issue.
MacIntyre suggests the wait on Benning could be problematic for the Canucks as they have big decisions to make leading up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline, “especially regarding potential unrestricted free agents Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek.” He gave up the equivalent of first- and second-round picks to acquire Gudbranson and if they can’t afford to re-sign him they certainly can’t risk losing him for nothing to free agency in July. If they re-sign him, they’ll probably have to move another defenseman from their crowded blueline. He could fetch a draft pick and prospect if Benning is allowed to trade him. Vanek’s trade value, meanwhile, is less certain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a surge up the standings over the next four weeks, the Canucks are likely sellers. If they can’t or won’t re-sign Gudbranson and/or Vanek, you’ll see them shopped for the best return they can get. I’ll be very surprised if either guy brings the Canucks a good young NHL-ready player.