NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2018
The latest on the Leafs, Hurricanes, Blues, Kings, and Flyers in your NHL rumor mill.
HURRICANES EYING KAPANEN?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s his understanding the Carolina Hurricanes had a trade with a Western Conference club fall through last week at the 11th hour. They’re believed in the market for a top-six forward and had interest in Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander prior to his recent re-signing with the Leafs.
It’s believed the Hurricanes have internally discussed Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen, who’s a restricted free agent at season’s end who could prove difficult for the Leafs to re-sign. The Hurricanes have plenty of defensemen and that’s a primary need for the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brett Pesce or Justin Faulk for Kapanen, anyone? Discuss!
COULD THE LEAFS PURSUE PIETRANGELO?
Bob McKenzie believes the Leafs could target help for their blueline prior to the February trade deadline, though there’s nothing imminent in the works. If the St. Louis Blues become willing to entertain offers for defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, he feels the Leafs could make the call.
McKenzie believes they’ll be interested in talking to any club that’s got a good blueliner available. He also points out Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson has arbitration rights this summer, which could make him more of a trade candidate than Kapanen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnsson won’t have the same value as Kapanen, who’s on pace for a 30-goal, 60-point season. If the Leafs pursue Pietrangelo, Kapanen will likely be part of the Blues’ asking price. Same for the Hurricanes. Pietrangelo recently underwent surgery on his injured right hand and that could put a damper on his recent trade speculation.
LATEST ON THE KINGS
Pierre LeBrun doesn’t think the Los Angeles Kings intend to tank the season to improve their chances of landing the first-overall pick to select Jack Hughes, projected as the top prospect in the 2019 NHL Draft. However, he feels they’ll have to make some difficult decisions.
LeBrun doesn’t believe Drew Doughty or Anze Kopitar are going anywhere but wonders if goaltender Jonathan Quick or defenseman Jake Muzzin might become available. While the Kings aren’t shopping Quick, LeBrun said he’s had teams tell him they’re “sniffing around that situation.”
McKenzie suggests winger Jeff Carter could be attractive to clubs seeking offense, such as the Boston Bruins or Arizona Coyotes. Carter has three seasons left on his contract with an affordable $5.27-million cap hit, though in actual dollars he’ll only be owed $7 million over the remainder of the deal.
Carter also lacks no-trade protection but loves living in Los Angeles and could be unwilling to leave. Retirement could be an option, though that would result in the Kings paying a $3.75-million salary-cap recapture penalty for each of those final three seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings must get younger but that won’t be easy to do when they’re carrying so many expensive veterans with no-trade clauses on their roster. Quick and Carter are probably among their few tradeable veterans as they lack no-trade protection, but they’re both in their 30s and each has a recent injury history. Still, they should attract interest if they hit the trade block before the February trade deadline.
LATEST ON THE FLYERS
NBC SPORTS: John Boruk wonders if Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is trying to swing a trade before the Dec. 19-holiday trade freeze. He notes there’s speculation the Flyers seek an upgrade in goal, a veteran defenseman, and a top-nine forward.
In terms of a blueliner, Boruk suggests Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks or more affordable options such as Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings might be available. He also noted TSN’s Darren Dreger recently speculated the Toronto Maple Leafs could be a fit for Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds.
Tom Dougherty observed the recent trade chatter regarding Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and winger Vladimir Tarasenko, and wonders if they might interest the Flyers. While they have plenty of pieces to acquire a player like Tarasenko, Dougherty considers it unlikely the Blues will move him, suggesting it would be a panic move on their part.
He also wonders if Pietrangelo would waive his no-trade clause to come to Philadelphia, pointing out the Blues asking price would be high, perhaps three prospects (including a “Morgan Frost-level prospect) and a first-round pick, as well as perhaps a good young player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forget about Keith or Seabrook, I don’t see Fletcher going after aging veterans on expensive long-term contracts. Muzzin or Martinez would be more affordable in terms of return and contract but they might not be suitable long-term options. Fletcher would probably love to land Tarasenko or Pietrangelo but I don’t see either guy landing in Philadelphia this season. Such a move would more likely to occur in the offseason, if at all.
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen lists the Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, and Dallas Stars as potential trade destinations for Flyers pending free agent winger Wayne Simmonds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Simmonds status as a free agent, interested clubs will consider him a rental player and won’t want to give up too much to get him. Of course, if he’s willing to re-sign with his new team, the Flyers could get a better return. Ditto under a sign-and-trade scenario. However, I don’t see those last two scenarios unfolding prior to the deadline.
Fletcher has suggested he’s willing to discuss a new contract with the Simmonds camp. If he’s seeking a long-term deal, the Flyers GM could shop him before the deadline.