NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2018
Updates on Max Pacioretty, John Tavares, Ryan McDonagh and more in your NHL rumor mill.
UPDATES ON PACIORETTY AND GALCHENYUK
SPORTSNET: Appearing on the Jeff Blair Show, TVA Sports Renaud Lavoie reported sources close to Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty say the Habs captain expects to be traded soon, possibly before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Lavoie believes Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin seeks a player who can help them right now and might not be interested in draft picks or prospects. He said a first-round pick they get from a Cup contender would be lower in the round, which isn’t the type of first rounder they need.
Lavoie notes reports that Bergevin is looking for a young top-six centerman but he doesn’t see any teams having that type of available asset right now. He speculates the Habs GM could also seek a left-shot defenseman or perhaps a young scoring left winger with equal or better stats than Pacioretty.
Speaking about Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, Lavoie said he has no value. He claims general managers around the league don’t have a high opinion of the winger. If a team wants him, he’d be an expensive gamble. Perhaps Galchenyuk could be part of a bigger deal but Lavoie doubts he’ll be moved by the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty could be dealt before the deadline but Lavoie reminds us that Bergevin is willing to wait until the offseason to move his captain if there’s no suitable deal available before the trade deadline. I agree with Lavoie that there currently isn’t any team shopping a good young scoring center. It’s going to take time for the Habs GM to address that glaring need. He might have better luck landing a young scoring winger or a top-four left-side blueliner. Maybe Bergevin might get a promising prospect center as part of a package deal.
As for Galchenyuk, Lavoie’s assessment is harsh but fair. Despite the 23-year-old winger’s offensive skills and upside, his ongoing inconsistency hurts his value. With an annual cap hit of $4.9 million through 2019-20, moving Galchenyuk for a decent return could prove difficult.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE LATEST TSN’S “INSIDER TRADING”
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow has no intention of moving John Tavares at the trade deadline. The Isles intend to use all the time they have up to July 1 to re-sign Tavares, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only scenario where Tavares moves by the deadline is if he demands a trade. I don’t see that happening.
LeBrun also said Mike Fisher coming out of retirement doesn’t necessarily mean they’re out of the trade market. He believes they could still seek a top-six scorer. Fisher will likely go into a bottom-six role.
Bob McKenzie believes Edmonton Oilers forwards Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu are likely to become playoff rentals at the trade deadline. Maroon would like to re-sign but the Oilers will only do so at the right price. If a contract cannot be worked out soon, Maroon’s name could become front and center in rumors leading up to deadline day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maroon, 29, is completing a three-year, $6-million contract. If he seeks more than double his current cap hit on a long-term deal, he and the Oilers could part company by Feb. 26.
Maroon and Letestu aren’t the only pending free agents the Oilers might move by the deadline. The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis wonders if winger Ryan Strome’s tenure in Edmonton could be drawing to a close. Strome’s a restricted free agent who hasn’t played up to expectations this season. The Oilers’ limited cap space for next season could make it difficult to re-sign him.
Meanwhile, Frank Seravalli updated the TSN Trade Bait board, adding Carolina Hurricanes center Derek Ryan and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nikita Soshnikov while dropping Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Cody Franson
COULD MCDONAGH BE A FIT WITH THE LEAFS?
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh could fit perfectly with the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose roster is bereft of good veteran blueliners. While McDonagh has a 10-team no-trade list, Cyrgalis doubts he would pass up an opportunity to go to Toronto. Noting the Leafs depth in good young forwards, Cyrgalis suggests if Rangers GM Jeff Gorton could “pry away the likes of either a Mitch Marner, William Nylander or Zach Hyman, plus some sort of high draft pick, a deal could be more than worthwhile for both sides.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently shot down talk of McDonagh going to Toronto. He doesn’t see the Leafs parting with a good young forward for a defenseman who turns 29 in July. There’s also McDonagh’s eligibility next summer for UFA status that could also be a concern.
LATEST ON THE WILD
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey believes we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. If the Wild slip further out of playoff contention and decide to become sellers, Mackey feels there’s a chance they could shop Cullen and he feels Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could leap at the chance to bring him back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild are within one point of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. If they remain in contention they probably won’t be sellers.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo speculates Wild defenseman Mike Reilly could hit the trade block by the deadline. Russo notes the Wild have been platooning Reilly and Gustav Olofsson on the third defense pairing and wonders if something could give soon. He reports there’s been chatter for a couple of months that Reilly would welcome an opportunity to play elsewhere and his agent has been given permission to speak with other teams. In December, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher denied he was shopping Reilly, who said he hasn’t asked to be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Reilly is traded he won’t fetch a return that provides immediate help for the Wild. Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s peddled before the 2018 NHL Draft.