NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2018
Latest on the Maple Leafs and Penguins plus updates on Patrick Maroon and Mike Hoffman in your NHL rumor mill.
LEAFS AND PENGUINS
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports there’s a slim possibility the Maple Leafs could trade impending free agent left wing James van Riemsdyk at the Feb. 26 trade deadline. However, the general feeling is they’ll retain him for the remainder of the season. General manager Lou Lamoriello won’t just focus on possibly shopping other unrestricted free agents such as Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Dominic Moore or Roman Polak. Winger Josh Leivo reportedly wants a fresh start elsewhere while Nikita Soshnikov could also be on the market.
Koshan notes rugged forward Matt Martin, who’s signed through 2019-20, has been a healthy scratch in the last five games. He also feels it could cost the Leafs a good young forward such as William Nylander, Mitch Marner or Kasperi Kapanen to acquire a top-four defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel reports Leivo’s agent said his client doesn’t want to leave Toronto but he wants an opportunity to play. The 24-year-old forward has yet to suit up in 2018. While both sides appear to be handling this situation well, the Leafs’ forward depth probably means Leivo will remain the odd man out. Maybe he gets packaged for a return that attempts to boost Toronto’s defensive depth.
As for van Riemsdyk, I’ll be very surprised if he’s moved at the deadline. While Lamoriello won’t engage in a fire sale of his pending UFAs, I wouldn’t be shocked if one of the others noted by Koshan gets moved by deadline day. Maybe Martin, too, though his grit and experience could come in handy down the stretch and into the postseason.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie speculates the play of versatile center Riley Sheahan could determine what moves the Pittsburgh Penguins make by the trade deadline. Of late, Sheahan’s been centering Phil Kessel on the Pens’ third line. If he remains in that role, the Pens could pursue an affordable fourth-line center such as Edmonton’s Mark Letestu or Minnesota’s Matt Cullen, or perhaps look at upgrades elsewhere. If they feel Sheahan lacks the offensive skills to remain their third-line center, they could instead pursue someone such as Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau. If they feel he’s an “in-betweener”, maybe they look at someone like Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins’ improvement since December has somewhat reduced the pressure upon GM Jim Rutherford to swing a significant trade. Doesn’t mean he still won’t do it, but if Sheahan remains comfortable in the third-line position, it could shift Rutherford’s view from center to perhaps adding a scoring winger.
MAROON AND HOFFMAN
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples points out left wing Patrick Maroon’s been a model of consistency for the Oilers over the past two seasons.
So why would the Oilers consider trading him at the deadline? “Well, there are those massive contracts with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic, not to mention a big contract with Andrej Sekera, and significant deals with Kris Russell, Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom and Cam Talbot. Big deals are surely on the way for Darnell Nurse and, I would argue, Jesse Puljujarvi.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the choice, I think Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli would prefer to re-sign Maroon. Maybe he can convince the winger to accept a hometown discount to stay in Edmonton. However, this is likely Maroon’s only opportunity to cash in on a big payday via free agency. If cap constraints prevent the Oilers from re-signing Maroon before the deadline, I think he’ll be on the move by Feb. 26.
TSN: Frank Seravalli plays the “Tradecentre Match Game” with Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman, listing the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils as possible trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes are struggling to score of late and that’s jeopardizing their playoff hopes. Carolina GM Ron Francis has yet to make a significant player-for-player hockey trade. That’s what it will probably take to pry Hoffman away from the Sens, who reportedly seek a young NHL-ready player in return. As per Cap Friendly, he carries a 10-team no-trade list and Carolina could be on it.
He also has an annual average value of over $5.1 million through 2019-20. That prices him out of the Oilers’ range unless the Sens are willing to pick up part of it, which is doubtful. Hoffman could be a good fit with the Devils, provided he’s willing to accept a trade to New Jersey.