NHL Rumor Mill – February 7, 2018
Updates on Rick Nash plus the latest on the Penguins, Senators, Flames, Sabres and more in your NHL rumor mill.
LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the New York Rangers seek three pieces for winger Rick Nash. “So a first-round pick, a top prospect and another lesser player, or prospect or pick in combination with those,” said McKenzie, who believes the Rangers will ultimately have to settle for a lesser return, perhaps a first- and a second-round pick or a first and a prospect. Pierre LeBrun said the Rangers could be willing to absorb a big chunk of the remainder of Nash’s $7.8-million salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade and maximize the return.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes if a team that’s not on Nash’s list of preferred trade destinations expresses interest in him and makes a good offer, the Rangers could ask him if he’ll consider that club as a possibility. He believes there’s a lot of teams interested in Nash, listing the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and possibly the Winnipeg Jets as potential suitors.
McKenzie also reports some general managers see Nash’s teamate Michael Grabner as a more affordable option. He already has 21 goals this season and carries a $1.6-million cap hit. McKenzie believes the asking price is along the lines of a first-round pick. While the Blueshirts aren’t rushing everyone out the door, McKenzie said there are no untouchables on the roster. “Not Ryan McDonagh, not Mats Zuccarello, not J.T. Miller, not anybody.” They’re going to listen to offers that involve young players, prospects and picks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s understandable why the Rangers are setting a high asking price for Nash, but I concur with McKenzie that they could end up accepting a first and a second or a first and a prospect. While Nash is still a notable name, his offensive game has declined. The 33-year-old is on pace this season for 23 goals and 38 points in 82 games. Those numbers could improve on a deeper roster but a rival GM might be unwilling to pay a big price to take that gamble. Grabner’s speed, affordable cap hit and lower asking price could make him enticing to teams unable or unwilling to pay big for Nash.
UPDATES ON THE SENATORS, FLAMES AND SABRES
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Ottawa Senators are only prepared to trade good players that they believe they’ll get good returns for. Forwards Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are often mentioned as possible trade candidates, but Dreger speculates they could retain Hoffman because he’s developed good chemistry with Matt Duchene.
Pierre LeBrun believes it’s a long shot that the Senators will move defenseman Dion Phaneuf because of his $7 million annual cap hit and modified no-trade clause. However, he believes the Los Angeles Kings have expressed some interest, though the Sens would have to absorb part of his cap hit to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Up until a couple of weeks ago Hoffman appeared to be the Senators’ prime trade candidate. Of late, that seems to have changed, though we still can’t fully dismiss the possibility, especially if they get a worthwhile offer. If Duchene and Hoffman are playing well, it could be worth keeping them together.
Phaneuf was dealt two years ago this month so we can’t completely reject the notion he gets traded again. But as LeBrun noted, the Sens might have to eat a portion of his cap hit to make happen.
LeBrun also reports the Calgary Flames covet a scoring winger if they can pull it off. They lack first and second round selections in this year’s draft to use a trade bait, but LeBrun said he’s heard they might be willing to listen to offers for promising goaltender Jon Gillies if he could fetch a scorer with term remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun notes the Flames are deep in goaltending prospects but I’d be leery of parting with the 6-foot-6 Gillies. Depends on what they could get as a scoring forward.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports hearing some recent talk of Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly in the rumor mill but he said he’d be surprised if the center got moved. He thinks teams have asked about O’Reilly but feels GM Jason Botterill is trying to build up his club’s strength at center and move O’Reilly might not be something they want to do.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Reilly’s big contract (as per Cap Friendly, $7.5 million annually through 2022-23) could be a sticking point if the Sabres did want to trade him. Like Friedman, I don’t see him getting traded.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS, COYOTES AND CANUCKS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman suggests it’s possible Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen could return to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the trade deadline. The Pens have been linked to a lot of centers over the season but Friedman wonders if they might go back to Minnesota and see if maybe they try to bring Cullen back.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Based on what he’s heard about the Penguins’ approach leading up to the trade deadline Jason Mackey reports he wouldn’t be surprised if the Pens “stand pat, stay out of the third-line center fray, make a small add in the No. 4 spot and move on.” He cites the Penguins improvement since Jan. 1 and feels Riley Sheahan is playing well enough in the third-line center role. Mackey is also convinced the Pens could try to bring back Matt Cullen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Cullen return to Pittsburgh could depend upon where the Wild see the veteran center in their lineup and if they remain in playoff contention over the next two weeks.
Friedman’s colleague Chris Johnston reports it’s believed Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi would be open to a move and the club could listen at this point. Domi’s in the final season of his entry-level deal and Johnston said it’s known that if teams want to inquire about Domi he could be had.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Richard Morin reports Coyotes GM John Chayka dismissed the New York Post report claiming Domi was available. “I don’t know where they get this stuff,” Chayka said. While he added he’ll “listen on anything,” Chayka said the club is happy with its young players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted on Sunday, Domi’s numbers are down this season because he’s playing a second-line center role and taking on more defensive responsibilities. While I don’t dismiss the possibility that he could be traded for the right offer, I don’t think the Coyotes are beating down doors trying to move him.
From an agent, “Hearing the Canucks are getting a healthy amount of calls on Ben Hutton for a trade. Vancouver not shopping him but they are certainly listening.” #Canucks
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) February 6, 2018