NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2018
Early lists of trade deadline buyers, sellers and trade candidates in your NHL rumor mill.
BUYERS AND SELLERS
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen lists the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators as early buyers and the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings as the early sellers approaching the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline. He also expects the Vegas Golden Knights and Carolina Hurricanes could stand pat “for now.”
The Blues have struggled to score since Jaden Schwartz went down with an ankle injury. General manager Doug Armstrong isn’t interested in a rental player, which could take him out of the bidding for Sabres winger Evander Kane. Ottawa forward Mike Hoffman, who’s signed through 2019-20, has been linked to the Blues in the rumor mill.
Offense is the Penguins’ biggest need. There was speculation defenseman Kris Letang might be available but the Pens reportedly have “zero intention” of moving him. The Leafs will be in search of a right-shot blueliner who leans toward the defensive side. Boylen wonders if they’ll move a pending UFA such as James van Riemsdyk or Tyler Bozak to address their defense needs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Leafs risk losing van Riemsdyk and Bozak for nothing in July to the unrestricted free agent market, I don’t see either guy being moved at the deadline. Both will be crucial to the Leafs’ hopes for a lengthy playoff run.
Boylen suggests the potential exists for the Lightning to swing for the fences by pursuing Kane. The Jackets could target a top-two center. They’ve been linked to Ottawa’s Derick Brassard, As for the Predators, they could pursue depth players to bolster their roster for another lengthy playoff run.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this week, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch said he didn’t see Brassard going anywhere. If so, the Jackets will have to look elsewhere to address their needs at center.
The Canadiens are rumored to be shopping left wing Max Pacioretty. If so, GM Marc Bergevin must get a significant return. Canucks winger Thomas Vanek and defenseman Erik Gudbranson could be trade candidates, as could Senators forwards Brassard, Mike Hoffman and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I don’t dismiss the possibility of Pacioretty being dealt by the trade deadline, I doubt Bergevin will find a suitable offer worthy of parting with his best goal scorer by Feb. 26. If Pacioretty gets traded, that move takes place in late-June, when teams are flush with cap space and better offers could be had.
In Evander Kane, the Sabres have the best rental player in the trade market. Boylen wonders if they’ll also consider moving a younger player such as forward Sam Reinhart. The Coyotes are reportedly shopping winger Anthony Duclair. If they’re willing to move Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Niklas Hjalmarsson, teams will line up for them “and pay a hefty price.” Green is the Wings best trade chip but Boylen also ponders the notion of moving Andreas Athanasiou, who was involved in a long contract dispute with the Wings last summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Coyotes moving Hjalmarsson for the right offer. GM John Chayka has repeatedly rejected the notion of Ekman-Larsson being traded. Unless the blueliner forces the issue, he’s not going anywhere at the deadline. I believe the Wings will move Green. While Athanasiou didn’t do himself any favors with his ill-advised contract standoff with Wings management, they still see him as a key part of their future plans.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski lists the Los Angeles Kings and New York Islanders, as well as the Penguins and Blues, among his list of buyers. While the Kings will get an offensive boost when center Jeff Carter returns from injury, he notes they have the cap space and prospects to bring in another scorer. He feels conditions are right for the Isles to make a move as they’ve been hovering on the playoff bubble for the past two weeks. He wonders if they’ll make a pitch for Pacioretty.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles don’t need more scoring, though that could change if top-line winger Josh Bailey is sidelined for a lengthy period. Their biggest needs are a reliable goaltender and blueline depth.
Wyshynski also believes the Coyotes, Canadiens, Sabres and Senators will be sellers.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun examines the trade deadline needs for this season’s top teams.
The Blues need a top-six scorer and LeBrun muses on the possibility of targeting Pacioretty or Hoffman. The Predators could use another top-six or top-nine winger (“Hoffman? Kane?”). Sources say the Winnipeg Jets are shopping around for a potential center pickup.
LeBrun believes the Golden Knights must balance between the excitement of the moment and its long-term vision of building a club that will be competitive for years. He said the Kings are internally discussing the addition of ” a three-four/five type blueliner.” The San Jose Sharks would like to add a fourth-line center. They’re also willing to give their young forwards every possible chance this season. LeBrun also believes Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray wants to see how his now-healthier roster plays over the next several weeks before deciding if he needs to add at the deadline.
The Lightning could look at adding a top-four blueliner, though that could be difficult to do mid-season. They could also look at a third-line winger. LeBrun believes the Boston Bruins, for the right price, could add a veteran defenseman and look at potentially adding a scoring forward. The Leafs will see if there’s a top-four right-handed rearguard available by the deadline.
LeBrun believes the Capitals would like to bring in an affordable veteran blueliner. He wouldn’t be surprised if New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero makes a move and thinks the Blue Jackets will try to add up front.
NOTABLE TRADE CANDIDATES
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet’s NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s Friday appearance on Edemonton’s 630 CHED discussing which notable players could be on the move by the trade deadline. He believes Buffalo’s Evander Kane could be the first to go, though it could be tougher to get a solid return with Montreal’s Max Pacioretty and Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman potentially available. Unlike Kane, both are under contract beyond this season.
Friedman thinks the Penguins, Blues and Sharks could be among the suitors for those players.
UPDATES ON HOFFMAN AND JAGR.
– talked Senators. Dorion has a “futures” driven offer on Hoffman. Pick/Prospect. Not something Ott is looking at now. Closer to deadline?
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 4, 2018
Lots of speculation on the future of Jaromir Jagr with CGY. Hobbled by injury, unable to get a defined role, rumours abound but, for now anyway, my understanding is no declarations are imminent. There has been and will continue to be dialogue between Jagr and CGY.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 5, 2018