NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2018
Updated TSN trade bait list plus the latest on the Jets, Canucks, Blue Jackets, Flames and more in your NHL rumor mill.
UPDATED TSN TRADE BAIT LIST
TSN: Frank Seravalli updated and expanded his trade bait list to 45 players. He speculates the Ottawa Senators could be reluctant to part with winger Mike Hoffman, in part because of the chemistry he’s established with center Matt Duchene.
“Newcomers include Detroit’s Luke Glendening, Xavier Ouellet and Dan DeKeyser, Pittsburgh’s Matt Hunwick, Buffalo’s Benoit Pouliot and Chicago’s Tommy Wingels”. Seravalli reports it’s believed the Toronto Maple Leafs offered up a fifth-round pick to the Red Wings for Glendening, who countered by asking for a second rounder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators were reportedly in discussions last week with the St. Louis Blues regarding Hoffman or Derick Brassard. While moving either guy could help the Sens shed salary, general manager Pierre Dorion could prefer retaining both in favor of other cost-cutting options.
Speaking of Brassard, Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger said the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins had interest in him. As per Cap Friendly, the Jets ($69.5-million cap payroll for 2017-18) have the salary-cap room to bring in Brassard’s $5 million AAV through 2018-19, provided he’s willing to accept a trade to Winnipeg. The Penguins, however, would have to clear significant cap room for Brassard so I don’t see him going to Pittsburgh.
A second-round pick for a potential fourth-liner such as Glendening is a high asking price so it’s unsurprising the Leafs rejected that. As for DeKeyser, The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports there’s been “some interest” in the 27-year-old blueliner but the Wings haven’t received any offers that would convince them to part with him.
JETS AND CANUCKS
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is believed to have spoken to the New York Rangers about the players they’re shopping (including winger Rick Nash), as well as the Ottawa Senators about winger Mike Hoffman (“unlikely, but possible”) and Edmonton Oilers about forwards Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu. While Dreger believes Cheveldayoff is doing his due diligence and could have the appetite to do something impactful, it depends upon what assets he’ll have to give up.
Dreger also reports contract talks between the Vancouver Canucks and pending free-agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson sound like they’re heading in the right direction. If the Canucks can sign him to a three- or four-year deal worth slightly above his current $3.5-million salary, Dreger feels that’s a good deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Jets riding high in the Western Conference standings, Cheveldayoff isn’t under pressure to make a major move. I’m not saying he won’t but, like many of his peers who are buyers, he won’t overpay for rental players. That’s why I’m not surprised to see that he could have interest in Hoffman, who’s signed beyond this season. If the Jets GM wants to make a big splash, it could be for a player who could have a long-term effect upon his roster.
As for Gudbranson, it sounds as though he’ll be staying with the Canucks beyond this season, probably for around what Dreger suggested.
BLUE JACKETS AND FLAMES
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen should be a bold buyer and seller by the trade deadline. Pending free agent defenseman Jack Johnson requested a trade earlier this season and there are reports the Jackets could get a low first-round pick for him. “Boston, Toronto and Washington are said to be interested.” There’s also some interest in penalty-killing forward Matt Calvert, who’s also eligible for UFA status this summer.
Portzline also believes the Jackets GM should acquire some scoring punch, though he recommends against pursuing rental players unless they’re willing to re-sign. He wonders if forwards Boone Jenner or Alexander Wenneberg might be available as trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets are one point shy of a wild-card berth. They’re in danger of falling further out of playoff contention. Kekalainen was interested in Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris before they were traded and it’s believed he’s still searching for a scoring center. It’ll be interesting to see if he can swing a significant move that bolsters his club’s postseason hopes.
THE ATHLETIC: Kent Wilson examined possible trade targets for the Calgary Flames. He considers their chances of landing New York Rangers winger Rick Nash “remote”, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman as “low-to-moderate”, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty “low”, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist and the Rangers’ Michael Grabner “moderate” and Vancouver’s Thomas Vanek “low.” Possible trade bait could include forward Sam Bennett and prospects such as goaltender Jon Gillies and defensemen Rasmus Andersson, Juuso Valimaki, Adam Fox and Oliver Kylington.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames must add another scorer, preferably at right wing. They have prospect depth that could prove tempting to clubs shopping rental players. Grabner could be a decent pickup if the Flames want an affordable rental option. Attempting to acquire Hoffman or Pacioretty will probably be too costly. If starting goalie Mike Smith remains sidelined longer than expected the Flames could also be in the market for a goalie.