NHL Rumor Mill – February 9, 2018
Latest on the Rangers plus updates on Jeff Skinner, Boone Jenner, Mike Green, Jack Johnson and more in your NHL rumor mill.
UPDATES ON RICK NASH
TSN: Darren Dreger reports agent Joe Resnick, who represents New York Rangers winger Rick Nash, has spoken with at least eight-to-10 teams that have some degree of interest in his client. Dreger believes the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars could be atop Nash’s list of preferred destinations, but it could be tricky for both clubs because they don’t want to shift their dynamics. He noted Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock has a history with Nash from their days with the Columbus Blue Jackets but he wonders if the winger can be a fit there.
Pierre LeBrun feels Nash could affect the trade value of Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane. The Sabres set a high asking price for Kane, but whatever the Rangers get for Nash could set the market for Kane.
SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston listed the Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets, Blue Jackets, Stars, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders as 10 potential trade destinations for Nash.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Predators are the front runner as Nashville GM David Poile is rumored to be seeking a scoring winger. Depending on the asking price, he could make a pitch for Nash. I still think the Penguins prefer to bolster their depth at center but I wouldn’t rule out GM Jim Rutherford chasing a scoring winger. However, I think he’d prefer one with speed, like Nash’s teammate Michael Grabner. The Jets are expected to be buyers this year but it’s possible Nash might reject a trade to Winnipeg.
We probably shouldn’t rule out a possible reunion with the Blue Jackets, but is he really a good fit there now? The Jackets are stumbling and need some scoring punch and inspired leadership. Stars GM Jim Nill said he’s not looking to make a big splash at the trade deadline, but that remains to be seen. The Blues certainly could use some help at left wing and could be among the clubs with interest in Nash.
I think the Capitals are more interested in adding a veteran defenseman. The Flames, Sharks and Islanders are reportedly unwilling to part with young players, high draft picks or top prospects for rental talent so Nash is probably not a fit with them.
MORE FROM TSN’s INSIDERS
Dreger also reports there’s some trade buzz regarding Rangers forwards J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider. The latter is recovering from a blood clot in his right arm but could return to action in mid-March.
Bob McKenzie speculates Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green’s list of acceptable trade destinations could be a small one. Green, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in July, carries a full no-movement clause. McKenzie reports the Wings’ asking price is either a first-round pick and a prospect or a second- and a third-round pick. He also notes trade chatter frequently links Green to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
LeBrun believes the Columbus Blue Jackets could seek either a forward or a low first-round pick for defenseman Jack Johnson. If they can’t land that forward, they could try to move Johnson for that pick and then make a separate deal for a forward.
Dreger thinks the Vegas Golden Knights could attempt to add to their roster before the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting to see Miller and Kreider pop up in the rumor mill. If the Rangers goal is to retool with younger players, one would think Miller (24) and Kreider (26) would be worth retaining. Still, it’s believed they’re willing to listen to offers for almost everyone on their roster. Green likely wants to go to a team that’ll give him the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup. If the Bolts are interested I can see him agreeing to be dealt to Tampa Bay.
TSN TRADE BAIT BOARD CONTINUES TO GROW
Frank Seravalli reports Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner is the most notable of the 10 new names added to TSN’s trade bait board, expanding the list to 40 names. He claims the Canes aren’t actively shopping the 25-year-old Skinner but could be willing to entertain offers. Seravalli suggests growing friction between Skinner and head coach Bill Peters combined with the club being recently taken over by new ownership could lead to things coming to a head for the winger, if not at the deadline then perhaps in the offseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner reached a career-best 37 goals and tied his career-best points total (63) last season, so his decline this season is troubling. However, I think that’s due in part to the Canes lack of offensive depth at center. They’re among this season’s lowest-scoring teams. Trading away one of their leading scorers isn’t a good idea unless they’re seeking an offensive center in return.
Seravalli also noted Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner is also having a tough season, receiving 10 percent more ice time this season but seeing his production down to less than half of his 30-goal performance two years ago. That could adversely hurt his trade value and Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen doesn’t like to sell low.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli notes Kekalainen didn’t give up on Cam Atkinson a couple of years ago and was rewarded for his patience. He could do the same with Jenner, though it doesn’t hurt to at least listen to offers.
Other new names include “Flames prospect Jon Gillies, Wild centre Matt Cullen and Habs centre Tomas Plekanec. The board’s other newbies are Canucks defenceman Ben Hutton, Red Wings winger Gustav Nyquist and Maple Leafs spare forward Josh Leivo.” After dropping Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner and Chicago defenseman Cody Franson last week, Seravalli brings them back.