NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2019
Updates on Sergei Bobrovsky, Wayne Simmonds, and Micheal Ferland plus the latest on the Penguins and Leafs in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
BOBROVSKY WILLING TO WAIVE NO-TRADE
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports sources said Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky’s camp, led by agent Paul Theofanous, informed team management that he wouldn’t sign a contract extension with them and was willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right deal. They also presented them with a list of their client’s preferred trade destinations.
According to LeBrun, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen never contacted those teams because the Jackets decided they want to try and win this year with Bobrovsky. However, the incident last week where the goalie didn’t return to the bench after being pulled from a game might give management a reason to reconsider if those teams should start calling about him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem for the Jackets is trying to find a suitable replacement for Bobrovsky if they were to trade him away before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. There aren’t many suitable candidates potentially available. The best is Detroit’s Jimmy Howard but the Red Wings reportedly want a first-round pick for him. Unless the Jackets get a substantial offer too good to pass up for Bobrovsky they’ll likely stick with him for the remainder of the season.
UPDATES ON SIMMONDS AND FERLAND
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Vancouver’s TSN 1040, Pierre LeBrun believes Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds would be a great fit with the Boston Bruins, who are calling around in search of depth on right wing. He also suggested the Tampa Bay Lightning could use a physical player like Simmonds to prevent them from getting pushed around in the playoffs as they were by Washington last spring. LeBrun doesn’t know if the Lightning is looking at Simmonds but wouldn’t be surprised if they were.
Appearing on NHL Network yesterday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Simmonds is garnering plenty of interest. He noted the Nashville Predators have been linked to Simmonds. He also thinks the winger would be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens but GM Marc Bergevin said he won’t pursue rentals. Friedman also wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs might pursue Simmonds if they decide they need some “heavier hockey.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun’s colleague Bob McKenzie last week said the Flyers haven’t decided yet what they’ll do with Simmonds. If they opt to move him, and I believe they will, plenty of clubs will line up for his services as a rental player.
Some Boston pundits have been stumping for weeks for the Bruins to add Simmonds. While we don’t know the Lightning’s intentions, they’ve been willing to make bold moves before the trade deadline in the past. Wouldn’t surprise me if Simmonds is on their radar. As for the Leafs, they need one or maybe two good right-side defensemen. Simmonds can’t help them there.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During his appearance on NHL Network, Elliotte Friedman also said he believes there’s a lot of interest in Carolina Hurricanes winger Michael Ferland. Like Simmonds, Ferland is slated to become a UFA in July.
Friedman thinks Ferland is more likely to be traded, but with the Hurricanes playing themselves back into the playoff chase, he wondered how that could affect the winger’s situation. The two sides are reportedly not close to a new contract. Friedman suggested the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins and perhaps even the Vancouver Canucks could be among the clubs with interest in Ferland.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If any of those clubs pursue Ferland they better be prepared to shell out a lot of bucks if they intend to re-sign him. Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos last weekend reported he’s seeking a deal comparable to Tom Wilson’s six-year, $31-million contract with the Washington Capitals.
Pierre Lebrun speculated the asking price could be a first-round pick and a prospect, but I think Hurricanes GM Don Waddell must get more than that if he’s planning to move a player he acquired less than a year ago. I can see Ferland getting swapped straight up for a young forward with upside who can help the Hurricanes now and in the future.
LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe reports center Derick Brassard continues to struggle with the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly a year after they acquired him from the Ottawa Senators. General manager Jim Rutherford remains mystified by Brassard’s performance, acknowledging the center “for whatever reason” has underperformed.
Brassard is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Yohe feels Rutherford can either retain Brassard for the rest of the season in hopes he’ll finally regain his form or package him with one of their surplus defensemen in return for a third-line center. The Penguins will have nine defensemen once Justin Schultz returns from a broken leg in the near future.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: With the Penguins re-signing goaltender Casey DeSmith last week, Jason Mackey speculates young goalie Tristan Jarry could become a trade candidate. Mackey said several teams have inquired about Jarry. As for which defenseman Rutherford could move, Mackey suggests Jamie Oleksiak seems most likely to go as that move would free up over $2 million in salary-cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a reputation as an in-season wheeler-dealer. He’s already made two trades this season, shipping Carl Hagelin to Los Angeles for Tanner Pearson and Daniel Sprong to Anaheim for Marcus Pettersson.
As Mackey speculated, Rutherford could be shopping a promising young goalie, a big, physical third-pairing defenseman and perhaps a veteran forward in Brassard. Those assets could bring in a skilled two-way forward as a rental or someone with term remaining on their contract.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs might be willing to include their first-round pick in the right package for a top-four defenseman. Don’t expect that package to include Leafs blueliner Jake Gardiner, as Darren Dreger reports the target of Toronto boo-birds won’t be going anywhere by the trade deadline. The club will consider re-signing Gardiner, who’s slated to become a UFA this summer, though he could command over $6 million per season if he reaches 50 points again this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like him or not, Leafs fans, Gardiner will still be patrolling Toronto’s blueline after Feb. 25, though it seems unlikely they can afford to keep him off the UFA market. The Leafs have stockpiled plenty of young talent so they can afford to part with their first-rounder this year, but they might have to package him with someone like Kaspari Kapanen to land a right-side top-four defenseman.