NHL Rumor Mill – March 1, 2018
Ongoing post-trade deadline fallout plus a brief look ahead to the offseason trade and free agent markets in your NHL rumor mill.
POST-TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin set a high asking price for left wing Max Pacioretty leading up to Monday’s trade deadline. The Los Angeles Kings inquired about Pacioretty, but Bergevin sought center Tyler Toffoli, 2017 first-rounder Gabriel Vilardi and possibly more. He also sought a return that included Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild. Friedman suspected the Canadiens target Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck but he Panthers didn’t want any part of that. He also believes clubs inquired about Canadiens’ winger Brendan Gallagher but those conversations were short.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t blame Bergevin for seeking a significant return for Pacioretty. The Habs need a package that helps them right away and over the long term. I don’t see the asking price going down this summer, especially if more teams get into the bidding for Pacioretty. As for Gallagher, he’s not going anywhere unless he demands a trade, and I don’t see that happening.
Friedman thinks a potential trade that would’ve sent Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson to the Vegas Golden Knights fell apart over the Sens’ wish to include winger Bobby Ryan in the deal. There were rumblings part of the deal would’ve included two first-round picks, a top prospect and a conditional pick based on whether the Golden Knights re-signed Karlsson. Friedman believes the San Jose Sharks told the Sens they could take on Karlsson and Ryan. Tampa Bay, Washington and Nashville are also thought to have made inquiries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators weren’t so insistent about adding Ryan to the package, Karlsson might be skating with the Golden Knights today. Ryan’s declining production and $7.25-million annual cap hit through 2021-22 makes him difficult to move on his own. Package him with Karlsson and that’s a deal breaker, at least at the trade deadline. Maybe they’ll have better luck this summer.
There wasn’t a market for Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Lehner didn’t have as much value in the trade market as previously assumed. Perhaps that changes during the offseason. His injury history and the fact he has arbitration rights this summer likely crushed his value.
The Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets pursued winger Rick Nash before the New York Rangers shipped him to the Boston Bruins. Friedman speculates the Ducks may have had interest in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Bruins or return to the Rangers, perhaps the Ducks or Jets come calling.
Before the Los Angeles Kings acquired winger Tobias Rieder from the Arizona Coyotes, they took a look at Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nyquist carries a $4.75-million annual cap hit through next season. If the Wings weren’t wiling to pick up part of it, I daresay that played a part in their decision to go for Rieder and his more affordable $2.225 million for this season.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE OFFSEASON
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently observed there is potential for a lot of player movement news this summer. Topping the list, of course, is what New York Islanders pending UFA John Tavares decides to do by July 1. He also anticipates the Erik Karlsson and Max Pacioretty trade discussions could continue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t get any vibe from Tavares suggesting he’s keen to leave the Islanders. Yes, it’s certainly possible that he will, but everything I’ve heard from him seems to indicate a willingness to stay put.
You can bet the Senators and Canadiens will be hoping for more suitors flush with extra salary-cap dollars will get into the bidding for Karlsson and Pacioretty.
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and LA Kings blueliner Drew Doughty, who are both a year away from UFA status, will attract interest. Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson must decide if he’ll re-sign or test the free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams with a long-time need for a top-two defenseman (looking at you, Edmonton and Toronto) will likely monitor Ekman-Larsson’s situation very closely. If he proves reluctant to re-sign with the Coyotes, there will be a big bidding war for his services.
Doughty could do the same with the Kings, but I believe they’ll will find a way to get a contract extension done. He’s invaluable to the Kings’ defense corps.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak are due to become UFAs. The Leafs must also re-sign restricted free agent William Nylander and decide if they’ll re-sign Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner a year before their entry-level deals end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews, Nylander and Marner will be in line for significant raises. Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello has a well-earned reputation for playing contract hardball with young players, so it’ll be interesting to see how things go. Unless Lamoriello can get those three under contract for well below market value, van Riemsdyk and Bozak are goners this summer.
The future of Vancouver Canucks forwards – and pending UFAs – Daniel and Henrik Sedin will also garner attention, as will where Ilya Kovalchuk eventually ends up. LeBrun also wonders how much it’ll cost the Tampa Bay Lightning if they attempt to re-sign Nikita Kucherov this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Sedins are willing to accept affordable, bonus-laden one-year deals, I think the Canucks will bring them back. I believe Kovalchuk’s preference will be signing with either the New York Rangers or New York Islanders. Kucherov accepted far less on his current contract with the Lightning. He could seek at least $10 million annually on a long-term deal.