NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2018
Latest on the Canucks, Canadiens, Penguins, and Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE CANUCKS TARGET BOBROVSKY NEXT SUMMER?
THE ATHLETIC: Citing the Vancouver Canucks efforts under general manager Jim Benning to pursue big-name talent, JD Burke believes they could target Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky if he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. He doesn’t consider Jacob Markstrom as the Canucks starting goalie when they turn the corner and there’s some concern over the development of promising Thatcher Demko.
Burke acknowledged Bobrovsky will be expensive to sign, as rumors suggest he could seek over $10 million per season. Nevertheless, the Canucks could afford to sign him. “The Canucks will also be a more attractive option for Bobrovsky than many of their competitors, given that they currently employ the same goalie coach, Ian Clarke, that guided Bobrovsky to his two Vezinas. It’s also likely that Clarke will push for Bobrovsky, too.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks need stability between the pipes so it’ll be understandable if Benning and company decide to chase the NHL’s only active multiple Vezina Trophy winner via free agency. However, we’re still a long way from knowing for sure if Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets will part ways, let alone if he’ll consider the Canucks an attractive option should he hit the open market on July 1.
CANADIENS OPTIONS ONCE WEBER RETURNS
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels looks at how the Montreal Canadiens could make room on their crowded blueline for captain Shea Weber, who’s expected to return to action next week. One could be placing Karl Alzner on waivers and sending him to their AHL affiliate. His hefty contract means he’ll pass unclaimed, though ownership might balk at having a player on a $23.1-million contract riding the buses in the minors.
Trading Jordie Benn is another, though he might thrive playing lesser minutes with the Habs once Weber returns. Oft-injured David Schlemko is another trade possibility but the Canadiens won’t get much in return. They also likely won’t get much for Xavier Ouellet and he might not pass unclaimed through waivers. They could send down Victor Mete for a few games as he’s waiver-exempt.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Noah Juulsen currently sidelined the Canadiens can afford to carry eight defensemen once Weber returns to the lineup. Once Juulsen is ready to return, Engels speculates Alzner could be placed on waivers and demoted. Trading Benn doesn’t appear a palatable option and they’ll likely want to keep Mete on the roster.
UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS
POST-GAZETTE.COM: Jason Mackey recently reported Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford isn’t ruling out any trade that could help his club but for now it’s up to the players on the current roster to find a way out of their recent slump. Rutherford said finding a good deal is difficult at this time of year. Mackey noted young forward Daniel Sprong has surfaced in trade speculation but feels if there was a decent deal to be had involving Sprong it would’ve happened by now.
Mackey lists Olli Maatta, Bryan Rust, Phil Kessel, Derick Brassard, and Jamie Oleksiak as those who could potentially go via trade. Of those, Maatta and Rust would be the most likely to go. Moving Kessel would send the wrong message, the Penguins still believe Brassard can help them, and Oleksiak is among their few sources of physicality.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford will keep a close eye on the trade market but he won’t make a deal just for the sake of doing so. I don’t see Kessel, Brassard or Oleksiak going anywhere. Maatta or Rust seems the more likely trade options but there probably isn’t much of a market for either guy right now.
POTENTIAL BRUINS TRADE BAIT
THE ATHLETIC: Joe McDonald recently compiled a list of possible Boston Bruins’ trade candidates. The possibilities include Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Sean Kuraly, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril. Those under his “conceivable trades, but be careful” category include Danton Heinen, Noel Acciari, Joakim Nordstrom, and Matt Grzelcyk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those names will likely fetch at best a playoff rental player. Promising youngsters Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo have at times surfaced in recent Bruins trade speculation but McDonald feels they’re almost untouchable, pointing out the Bruins won’t part with those guys unless they’re getting a significant return.
Torey Krug is also in that category. McDonald notes the Bruins are a better club with Krug in the lineup but acknowledged he’s a young, valuable asset who would attract interest.
For now, Bruins GM Don Sweeney is staying patient with his roster, which has been banged up by injuries in the early going but remains in the thick of the playoff chase. He likely wants to see how they do once they get healthier before deciding if a trade or two is necessary.