NHL Rumor Mill – February 3, 2018
In today’s NHL rumor mill, we combine some of Sportnet’s top-20 rental players with TSN’s Tradecentre “Match Game”.
SPORTSNET: Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane sits atop Rory Boylen’s unsorted list of this season’s top-20 rental players who could be traded by the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline. TSN’s Frank Seravalli lists the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks as three possible matches.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford “would like to add an impact winger with scoring punch along with a much-needed third line centre”. The Sharks are believed interested in Kane but lack second- and third-round picks this year. While they have the cap space next season to re-sign Kane, it’s believed they’re saving it for a possible pursuit this summer of John Tavares. The Canucks have been long-rumored to have interest in Kane, but the only reason to acquire him via trade now is if they intend to re-sign him. Otherwise, it would make sense to pursue him as a free agent in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres reportedly seek four assets, including a promising young roster player, in return. They’re not going to get that much. Still, you can’t fault them for trying. The Pens and Sharks could use more scoring but their focus appears more on landing a center than a winger. If the Canucks remain interested in Kane I expect they’ll wait until this summer to go after him.
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green could be a good fit with clubs seeking a puck-carrying, second-pairing blueliner who can also be a power-play specialist. Boylen feels he shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to acquire. Seravalli lists the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals as possible matches.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman seeks a second-pairing rearguard with a right-handed shot. Green could be a right-shot d-man that Leafs coach Mike Babcock wants, but paying a significant price to get him only makes sense if they re-sign him. If Vegas GM George McPhee looks to tinker with his lineup, he knows Green better than most. Green could also bring experienced depth to the Capitals, but GM Brian MacLellan could be skittish about another big deadline move after the Kevin Shattenkirk deal last season failed to pan out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen’s colleague Elliott Friedman also lists Tampa Bay and Washington as possible destinations for Green. I’d keep an eye on Yzerman at the deadline, as he could bolster his roster for a Stanley Cup run. If the asking price for Green isn’t too expensive, the Leafs might be interested. McPhee could tinker but I’m not sure he’ll set his sights on an expensive rental. As for the Capitals, that depends on whether Green will his no-trade clause to return to Washington and if head coach Barry Trotz feels he’ll be a worthwhile addition.
Boylen considers New York Rangers winger Michael Grabner as the most under-appreciated contributor on the market, noting his 20 even-strength goals sits fourth among NHL scorers this season. Noting Grabner’s speed and penalty-killing ability, he suggests the winger could be a more affordable deadline acquisition for San Jose or Pittsburgh.
Seravalli also suggests the Penguins as a destination, along with the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche. He notes six of Grabner’s goals were empty-netters, but also thinks he could benefit playing alongside the Avs playmakers and has the speed and skills to fit in with the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grabner’s ability to play at either wing could make him a decent addition on the right side for the Flames. The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla wonders if Avalanche GM Joe Sakic will turn to the trade market for help with superstar center Nathan MacKinnon currently sidelined. If the Sharks can’t find a decent center at the deadline, perhaps they could look to bolster their offensive depth on the wing with an affordable addition such as Grabner.
Boylen considers Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon as a physical net presence who could complement a skillful top-two center. Having seen some second-line duty this season, Maroon’s proven he can still be offensively effective away from Connor McDavid. He could prove a worthwhile option for teams that miss out on more notable scorers at the deadline. Seravalli proposes the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues as potential matches.
The Wild could use some depth at left wing and Maroon played for Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau during their years in Anaheim. Predators GM David Poile will stop at nothing to improve his club’s chances for another run at the Stanley Cup but the question is whether Preds coach Peter Laviolette would be interested. The Blues are shopping for a top-six winger and Maroon could be a fit along center Paul Stastny.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After giving up a lot last season to Arizona for playoff bust Martin Hanzal, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher might be reluctant to swing a significant deadline deal this year. If the asking price isn’t steep, maybe he’ll kick the tires on Maroon. Poile could also pursue him but the Predators GM might be targeting bigger fish. The Blues need affordable scoring depth and Maroon could be a fit there.
Vancouver Canucks left wing Thomas Vanek could also be a target of contenders in need of offense, but Boylen notes he needs sheltered minutes and doesn’t contribute on defense. He also wonders if the Canucks might re-sign him because of his chemistry with rising young star Brock Boeser. Seravalli suggests the Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets as possible destinations.
Ducks GM Bob Murray seeks a scoring winger for his second or third lines. Vanek could help a stalled Blue Jackets club whose offense sits 25th overall. Vanek might look good alongside Sharks captain Joe Pavelski.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vanek’s status remains uncertain. If the Canucks feel they can’t get him re-signed to a reasonable short-term deal, they’ll move him at the deadline. Despite Vanek’s offensive skills, he has a reputation as a soft player. Yes, he had decent playoff numbers, but there’s a perception he comes up small in big-game situations.