NHL Rumor Mill – January 5, 2018
Updates on Evander Kane, Max Pacioretty, Anthony Duclair, Erik Gudbranson and more in your NHL rumor mill.
A PRIMER AND TWO LISTS FOR THE 2018 TRADE DEADLINE
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance lists the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators as the early sellers in his primer for the 2018 NHL trade deadline, set for February 26. The Sabres are getting calls on left wing Evander Kane, who’s at nearly a point-per-game pace this season. Custance suggests the San Jose Sharks could be worth watching as they have the salary-cap space to pursue Kane this summer via free agency if they wish. Benoit Pouliot, Johan Larsson and Jacob Josefson are also garnering interest.
Custance cites an NHL source claiming Arizona Coyotes winger Anthony Duclair asked to be traded and the club is trying to accommodate his request. The Senators lacks first- and second-round picks in this year’s draft, something GM Pierre Dorion hopes to address. While defenseman Erik Karlsson could fetch a substantial return, Custance feels “that’s a monster trade to try and pull off in the middle of the season.”
The St. Louis Blues are the buyer to watch, as one NHL source believes GM Doug Armstrong could be aggressive in the trade market. Armstrong could prefer adding a player with term remaining on his contract, potentially making Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman a tempting target. Custance also suggests the Montreal Canadiens could be a wild card in the trade market. Captain Max Pacioretty has surfaced in the rumor mill and winger Alex Galchenyuk could also become a trade candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s been overshadowed of late by other notable players in the rumor mill but that doesn’t mean rival teams have lost interest in him. The Sharks could be a short-term destination, giving them the inside track to re-sign him if he’s a good fit. The Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues could also consider pursuing the Sabres winger.
Pacioretty, meanwhile, continues to dominate recent media trade chatter. TSN’s Darren Dreger suggests Pittsburgh and the Nashville Predators (“That’s speculative”) as potential destinations. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds St. Louis and the Los Angeles Kings as possibilities. Dreger’s colleague Ray Ferraro recently kicked around the idea of Pacioretty to the Edmonton Oilers for center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, something the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples frowns upon.
While I don’t discount the notion of the Canadiens moving Pacioretty before the trade deadline, I believe that’s the type of deal that takes place in the offseason. In June, there will be teams flush with salary-cap space that could provide the Habs with better trade options.
SPORTSNET: Jonathan Willis lists Arizona’s Anthony Duclair, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green and goaltender Petr Mrazek, Vancouver Canucks blueliner Erik Gudbranson and winger Thomas Vanek, Buffalo’s Evander Kane and Benoit Pouliot, Edmonton Oilers center Mark Letestu and left wing Patrick Maroon and Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec as 10 players potentially available as rental players leading up to the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For all the big names that sometimes get floated in rumors (“Tavares!” “Karlsson!” “Pacioretty!” “Nash!”), most of the players being moved by the deadline are usually depth players, struggling youngsters or aging veterans on expiring contracts whose best seasons are behind them. Willis’ list is a fine example of the type of players likely to become trade candidates leading up to Feb. 26.
Of this group, only one (Kane) can considered a skilled talent in his playing prime. Duclair has potential to perhaps blossom into a reliable scoring forward. Maroon is on pace for his second straight 40-plus point season, but there’s some question over whether he can maintain that pace without talented teammates such as Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
Duclair has struggled to regain the 20-goal, 44-point form he displayed during his rookie campaign of 2015-16. Still, he could recover his scoring touch playing on a deeper, stable roster. TSN’s Darren Dreger said the Coyotes seek a young player who, like Duclair, might benefit from a fresh start elsewhere. He claims the trade talk regarding the Coyotes winger was heating up but Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan cites two sources suggesting that could be an overstatement. However, Morgan said trade discussions will continues. I wouldn’t be surprised if Duclair is dealt within the next week or two.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen lists the New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings as five teams that should move quickly to make a trade.
The Islanders need defenseman help and perhaps a goaltender. Allen suggests Vancouver defenseman Erik Gudbranson and Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner as possibilities. The Blues could use more scoring depth and have been linked to Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman. The Leafs need a defensive rearguard and Gudbranson could be a good fit.
Allen also wonders if Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has considered adding Buffalo’s Evander Kane. He also suggests the Kings have the prospects to make a pitch for Kane.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudbranson is a rugged stay-at-home defender but there’s concern over his lack of speed and ability to adjust to the now-faster pace of the NHL game. Still, I can see a club like the Leafs or Islanders taking a chance on him as a rental for the right price. I don’t see the Sabres parting with Lehner.
Like Pacioretty, Hoffman’s been mentioned a lot of late as a trade candidate, but recent reports suggest the Sens haven’t received any solid offers yet. That might change as the deadline approaches.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Rutherford has Kane in his sights but he might not have sufficient prospects to tempt the Sabres. The Kings could look at the Sabres winger, but that depends upon whether they feel they need to bolster their offense.