NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2018
Latest on the Senators, Rangers, Canadiens, Coyotes, Flyers, Penguins and more in your NHL rumor mill.
AFTER TRADING PHANEUF, WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SENATORS?
TSN: Prior to the Ottawa Senators shipping defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings, Darren Dreger feels the Sens believe they’ve got the top center in the market in Derick Brassard and are building the case for Mike Hoffman as the best available winger. Dreger also tosses in Ryan Dzingel, saying the Winnipeg Jets are among the teams with some interest. There’s a strong market for Hoffman.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also wondered if the Calgary Flames had interest in Ottawa Senators winger Zack Smith. He was told he was “out to lunch” on that one. The Senators also prefer to retain center Derick Brassard, though the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks may have been asking about him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Senators are getting offers on Brassard and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, it sounds like they prefer retaining them. Considering how difficult it is to find good center, that’s probably a wise decision. Still, if someone offers up a promising young NHL-ready center for Brassard, the Sens could seriously consider it.
Hoffman remains a strong trade candidate as he’s been a fixture for months in the rumor mill. I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Smith getting moved before the deadline. He’s a big-bodied two-way forward who would be a good depth addition to a playoff club.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators are “all in” on New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash, but he wonders if they can win the bidding war. The Rangers could attempt to leverage some of the Predators top prospects.
Speaking of Nash, Friedman can see the Tampa Bay Lightning offering up a package of players, picks and prospects to the Rangers for Nash and defenseman Ryan McDonagh if general manager Steve Yzerman wanted to make that move. He also believes the Lightning would part with a center for a signed winger. The Bruins are also believed interested in McDonagh but the asking price would be expensive.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman does have the depth in assets to acquire both Nash and McDonagh, but I’ll be very surprised if he actually made that move. I can understand if he pursues McDonagh to bolster his defense corps but I just don’t think he’ll give up a ton for a rental player like Nash.
The Predators came very close to winning the Stanley Cup last year and they obviously want another shot at the big mug. As they’re already loaded with young roster talent, they could be willing to part with a couple of good prospects to get Nash. McDonagh would be a good fit with the Bruins but they’re reportedly reluctant to part with any of their good young players or prospects.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman suggests the Florida Panthers as a “stealth possibility” for Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty. He feels the Panthers have a lot of talent, “with Henrik Borgstrom ready for prime time after this season at NCAA Denver.”
Friedman also notes center Tomas Plekanec wants to stay in Montreal and thinks there’s a contract extension to be had there. “Now it comes down to whether or not GM Marc Bergevin gets an offer he likes.”
Rory Boylen lists the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks as potential trade destinations for Plekanec. He suggests the veteran center could be a good addition to the Penguins fourth line. The Wild are using young Joel Eriksson-Ek as their fourth-line center and there’s talk they could ship center Matt Cullen back to Pittsburgh. Plekanec could be a band-aid fix for the Sharks until Joe Thornton returns, after which he can be demoted to the bottom six in a defensive role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are definitely loaded with the type of young players that would tempt the Canadiens. As their biggest need is for a scoring center, the Habs could ask for Vincent Trocheck as part of the return, but I don’t see the Panthers agreeing to that. They certainly won’t part with first-line center Aleksander Barkov. As for Plekanec, Bergevin could retain him if he doesn’t get what he considers a suitable offer. He could seek a second-round draft pick for the veteran center, which could be a tough sell.
MORE DOMI SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Arizona Coyotes are prepared to give struggling forward Max Domi a fresh start, “pending a fair offer” either at the trade deadline or during the NHL Draft in June. He believes the Canadiens could take a look but doesn’t know if it’s going anywhere.
TSN: Bob McKenzie notes the Coyotes say they’re not shopping Domi “per se” but there’s lots of teams who believe the 22-year-old forward is “imminently available.” He said there’s a big gap between what the Coyotes consider his worth (and they’re supposedly seeking a lot) and the fact he’s struggling this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes aren’t in any hurry to move Domi, who’s in the final year of his entry-level contract and lack arbitration rights. If they don’t get a suitable offer they can wait until this summer to entertain trade proposals. Then again, they could re-sign him to a two-year bridge deal and hope he regains his form.
COULD THE FLYERS MAKE A MOVE?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a few teams suspect there’s some trade traction between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers. “It sounds like it depends on if the Flyers’ wish to buy, and they woke up Wednesday five points into the playoffs.”
COURIER-POST: In his latest mailbag segment, Dave Isaac said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Philadelphia Flyers shop for a goaltender now that starter Brian Elliott is sidelined for several weeks. He suggests pursuing Calvin Pickard, who’s currently buried in the Toronto Maple Leafs system. Noting Friedman’s report of the Flyers and Sabres scouting each other, he can’t imagine the Flyers will pay a big price for a goalie. That rules out Sabres starter Robin Lehner.
He also doesn’t dismiss the possibility that they might bring in a depth defenseman. Citing salary-cap concerns, he doesn’t see them pursuing Detroit’s Mike Green. He also doesn’t see the Colorado Avalanche selling Tyson Barrie. He sees New York Rangers winger Michael Grabner as a good fit but doesn’t think GM Ron Hextall intends to meet the Rangers’ asking price of a first-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s not a lot available in the goalie market for the Flyers. Detroit’s Petr Mrazek appears to be the best of the bunch. If they want Pickard the Leafs could try to pry away one of their young defensemen or a decent prospect. I don’t see the Sabres moving Lehner, who’s been among their few positives in an otherwise miserable season.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM TSN’S INSIDERS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports limited salary-cap space affects the Pittsburgh Penguins efforts to add to their roster. They only $800k in cap space, which prevents them from adding a center such as Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec even if the Canadiens picked up half of his remaining cap hit. Same goes for Ottawa’s Derick Brassard. He’s also called about Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau but the Sens are probably keeping him. Edmonton’s Mark Letestu probably isn’t a fit. They’re in the market for a bottom-six center but haven’t found the right fit yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Penguins can ship out some salary or get a team to pick up part of a player’s cap hit in a trade, they could have a difficult time swinging a deal. Not saying they can’t make it happen, but GM Jim Rutherford will have to do some salary-cap juggling to make it work. Defenseman Ian Cole was the subject of trade chatter two months ago but that’s since died off as he’s seeing more playing time in recent weeks.
Darren Dreger notes the Winnipeg Jets would like to add a forward and a defenseman. Head coach Paul Maurice would like to add a little muscle. Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw has surfaced in the rumor mill but he’s a tough add for the Jets. They could look at Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon or Mark Letestu. Dreger also wonders if they might have some interest in Columbus’ Jack Johnson but isn’t sure he’s the best fit there.
Bob McKenzie reports the Anaheim Ducks haven’t committed yet if they’re buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. There’s getting calls about faceoff specialist Antoine Vermette.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
Friedman’s also heard the Lightning, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs have inquired about Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon. He feels that move doesn’t make sense for the Leafs and there’s conflicting information about the Bruins’ interest.
While it’s extremely unlikely the Vancouver Canucks part with defenseman Chris Tanev, Friedman feels they should think about it because of the physical abuse he takes, which could affect his value at some point.
Friedman also noted New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has gone on record saying he won’t part with his two first-round picks in this year’s draft. Both could become lottery picks, giving the Isles a shot at moving up higher in the draft order.
The Detroit Red Wings are trying to move defenseman Xavier Ouellet