NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2018
A look at the latest round of TSN’s TradeCentre Match Game plus updates on the Hurricanes, Flames and much more in your NHL rumor mill.
LATEST TSN TRADECENTRE MATCH GAME
TSN: New York Rangers forward Rick Nash, Montreal Canadiens winger Alex Galchenyuk, and Ottawa Senators forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zack Smith are the latest entrants in Frank Seravalli’s TSN TradeCentre Match Game. Seravalli suggests the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators as destinations for Nash, lists the New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues for Galchenyuk, the Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets for Pageau and the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks for Smith.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli shares the consensus of the punditry regarding Nash’s top destinations. Of the three, the Predators could be the most aggressive. GM David Poile seeks a scoring winger and seems to be all in for a Stanley Cup run this year. Much will depend upon whether any of those clubs are on Nash’s list of preferred destinations and how much of his remaining salary-cap hit the Rangers are willing to absorb.
The Devils and Blues could certainly use a scoring winger and Galchenyuk needs a change of scenery. The Lightning, however, probably have their sights set on a top-four puck-moving defenseman. I concur with Seravalli’s suggested landing spots for Pageau. He’d be a good fit with the Jackets, Pens and Jets. The Senators, however, could be reluctant to part with him.
I’m not sure if the Wild or Sharks want to invest in a winger who turns 30 with three years left on his contract. The Flames could be a different story, however, as Seravalli points out they’ve been linked to Smith in the rumor mill, pointing out that his size and gritty playing style could make him perfect for the Western Conference.
UPDATES ON THE HURRICANES AND FLAMES
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek speculates the Carolina Hurricanes looks as if they could move a defenseman for the right deal for a forward. He notes Justin Faulk has two years left on his contract worth over $4.8 million annually, which would be good value if he returns to last season’s 17-goal form. Blueliners Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin will start earning a combined $9.25-million annually starting next season, Noah Hanifin is due a significant raise plus Haydn Fleury and Jake Bean are in the pipeline.
Duhatschek wonders if they could be a match with the Edmonton Oilers, perhaps for Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi, suggesting the Oilers could benefit from Faulk’s pedigree, provided his decline this season is merely a one-off. He also thinks Hurricanes depth forwards Derek Ryan and Lee Stempniak could attract some interest leading up to the trade deadline.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Bob McKenzie’s Friday appearance on Toronto’s TSN 1050 “Leafs Lunch” discussing the Hurricanes status heading toward the trade deadline and the placement of Carolina winger Jeff Skinner on TSN’s Trade Bait list.
With the Canes still fighting for a playoff spot, McKenzie doesn’t know if they’re necessarily selling. He speculates Skinner’s name surfacing in the rumor mill could be due to some teams contacting the Hurricanes hoping to buy low. McKenzie also doesn’t think it’s a coincidence Skinner’s name popped up soon after Hurricanes coach Bill Peters blasted his club for their recent lack of effort. He’s not convinced that Carolina GM Ron Francis wants to part with Skinner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes are just two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers and one behind the New York Islanders, who hold the two Eastern Conference wild-card berths. Considering they last made the playoffs nine years ago, I don’t see them going into sell mode unless they completely collapse over the next two weeks and tumble down the standings.
I also agree with Duhatschek that the Hurricanes could move a defenseman for a scoring forward, but I don’t see the Oilers parting with Puljujarvi for Faulk. The Hurricanes biggest need is for a scoring center, while Faulk’s struggles this season should send up a warning flag for teams seeking a top-four defenseman.
Duhatschek also considers New York Rangers winger Michael Grabner an “intriguing commodity”, pointing out the 30-year-old is a “gifted five-on-five player” who’s also a quality penalty killer. Though Grabner is playing at left wing this season he’s listed as a right winger. If the Calgary Flames were to acquire Grabner, that’s where he’d play, noting the Flames were seeking depth on right wing before Troy Brouwer was sidelined.
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen reports Flames GM Brad Treliving dismissed speculation he might make a trade to upgrade the right wing spot on his top line. He sang the praises of current right wing Micheal Ferland, pointing out the great chemistry he has with linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames will be buyers at the trade deadline. If they do land a right wing, it’ll be someone to skate on the second or third line. I can see them taking a good look at Grabner.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS, BLACKHAWKS AND CANUCKS
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: If the Boston Bruins decide to go shopping at the trade deadline, Joe Haggerty lists the pros and cons of the top players in this year’s trade market. The list includes Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon, Vancouver’s Thomas Vanek, New York Rangers wingers Rick Nash and Michael Grabner and defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Buffalo’s Evander Kane.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Bruins pursuing any of those guys for two reasons; the Bruins have few real weaknesses and they’re unwilling to part with any of their good young players or top prospects. I’m not suggesting GM Don Sweeney won’t make a move or two, but if he does, it’ll be to tweak the lineup with a depth player.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus reports the fading Chicago Blackhawks are likely to have a quiet trade deadline this year. They’re not in tear-down mode and won’t move their veteran core players. Lazerus instead expects GM Stan Bowman will try to recoup some draft picks, perhaps by shopping players such as Tommy Wingels, Michal Kempny, Jan Rutta, Erik Gustafsson or Tomas Jurco. He also doesn’t consider it unthinkable if Brandon Saad is dangled.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the Hawks listening to offers for Saad, but I think they’ll retain him. Yes, this season was a disappointing return to Chicago for Saad, but he’s 25 and could rebound next season. If the goal is to get younger, he’s worth hanging onto unless a rival club makes a significant bid.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford reports the Vancouver Canucks could be looking for a trade partner for goaltender Anders Nilsson. While there were clubs with interest in Nilsson last summer, he’s struggled this season and that could hurt his trade value. As for veteran winger Thomas Vanek, Botchford suggests the Nashville Predators as a possible destination.