Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 14, 2018
Updates on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Evander Kane, Paul Martin and more in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
BLUE JACKETS, SENATORS, RANGERS, SHARKS
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston touched on yesterday’s report by the Athletic’s Aaron Portzline indicating Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson requested a trade. Johnston said this dates back to failed contract talks in August/September between the two sides. Johnson is struggling this season and playing under 20 minutes per game for the first time in his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Boston Bruins were reportedly looking for a top-four defenseman with a left-handed shot. Perhaps Johnson could be a fit there as a rental player. The Bruins, however, won’t be keen to part with any of their good young players or top prospects. I doubt the Jackets will have interest in Matt Beleskey, who was recently demoted to the minors and carries a $3.8-million annual cap hit through 2019-20.
Colleague Nick Kypreos wonders if there’s a fit for Johnson with the Montreal Canadiens. He also said the Habs have interest in Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois, whose stock has risen but Kypreos isn’t sure that he’s untouchable. Still, Kypreos doesn’t think the Jackets would consider moving Dubois until they have a chance to evaluate their lineup when it’s fully healthy. Elliotte Friedman points out Columbus is looking for scoring and had interest in Canadiens winger Alex Galchenyuk in the past but he doesn’t think that gets it done for Dubois.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois might not be untouchable but I don’t see the Jackets parting with him. The 19-year-old center blossomed after being promoted to the top line between Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson. Makes no sense to break up their best line.
Johnston reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is getting lots of calls about some of his players but he prefers to playing the waiting game before moving some assets. Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are the types of players with value to rival teams at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch cites a “league executive” claiming “the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks had likely shown interest in Hoffman, Smith and Pageau.” Being patient could drive up the trade value of those players, ensuring a quality return for the Sens if they decide to move one of them by the trade deadline.
Kypreos reports the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators were among clubs showing interest earlier this season in Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman held off, seeing Koekkoek as insurance should one of his top blueliners become sidelined. With Victor Hedman out three-to-six weeks, Yzerman’s decision to keep Koekkoek has paid off.
Friedman thinks the New York Rangers are willing to listen to offers on some of their unrestricted free agents (Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, David Desharnais) and some of their contracted players, such as Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello. However, there’s no guarantee they do it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Rangers collapse between now and the trade deadline I don’t see them becoming sellers. Sure, they can listen to offers for McDonagh or Zuccarello and maybe they’ll get one too good to pass up, but I don’t think that’s likely right now. If they do go into sell mode, I believe it’ll be their notable UFAs on the block.
Friedman also reports the San Jose Sharks are trying to find defenseman Paul Martin another spot in the NHL. Martin’s finally back in the lineup after missing most of the season to injury. There are people who believe the veteran blueliner, who still has a year left on his contract at $4.85 million, might help someone.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports’ Bay Area’s Marcus White believes a trade could be coming soon. “Defenseman Dylan DeMelo is ready to be activated from injured reserve, and San Jose will need to make a corresponding roster move”. They could also send Timo Meier, Joakim Ryan, and Marcus Sorensen to the minors without any of them passing through waivers but White points out the Sharks could risk losing any other player to a waiver claim. The Mercury News’ Paul Gackle, however, thinks trading Martin won’t be easy, given the blueliner’s cap hit and questions over his ability to play following his offseason ankle surgery.
NOTABLE RUMORS FROM “GARRIOCH SUNDAY”.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the Arizona Coyotes will have to make a decision regarding defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who’s slated to become a UFA on July 1, 2019. While the Coyotes could wait to make a deal until the summer, Garrioch feels they could get calls soon from clubs interested in acquiring Ekman-Larsson for two playoff runs. He lists the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers among the clubs with “more than a passing interest” in the Coyotes rearguard. However, the asking price is currently high right now. “Not only do the Coyotes want two high-end players off a club’s roster, but they’re also asking for a first-round pick.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch believes it never hurts to inquire about Ekman-Larsson’s availability. However, Coyotes GM John Chayka insists his top blueliner isn’t available. Perhaps Ekman-Larsson will be shopped this summer if he and the Coyotes can’t agree on a contract extension, but I don’t see him being moved at the trade deadline.
The Coyotes have also been shopping blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson. He’s has a 10-team no-trade list and it’s believed he’d prefer not to be dealt to a Canadian team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Coyotes trade a defenseman by the deadline it’ll be Hjalmarsson, not Ekman-Larsson. He’s got a year left on his contract with a $4.1 million cap hit and considerable playoff experience, including playing for three Cup winners in Chicago. He’ll attract attention from playoff contenders.
Garrioch also touched on Jack Johnson’s trade request. He expects there will be lots of interest in the blueliner as a playoff rental. “The Jackets will want a top prospect and a first-round pick in return.”
No word yet regarding John Tavares’ future with the New York Islanders. He’s slated for UFA status this summer and they could feel the heat to get him re-signed by the trade deadline.
Lots of interest in Montreal Canadiens forwards Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. GM Marc Bergevin must decide if he’s going to go that route.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon is shopping for forward depth. Garrioch said the Panthers would be among the clubs with interest in Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sun-Sentinel.com’s Craig Davis reports Tallon discussed potential trade targets recently with his scouts. However, he’s not looking for a short-term fix. He said he’s only looking for deals that will benefit his club in the long-term. Someone like the 28-year-old Hoffman, who’s got two more years left on his contract, could be on Tallon’s radar.
Garrioch touches on rumors the Sharks could move defenseman Paul Martin. Speaking of the Sharks, he believes they’re in the mix (along with the Blues) for Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane. The Vancouver Canucks have always coveted Kane.