NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2019
Latest on the Blackhawks, Flames, Canucks, Rangers, Penguins, Wild, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST BLACKHAWKS SPECULATION
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Among the five questions the Blackhawks must answer in the second half of this season, Jimmy Greenfield wonders if GM Stan Bowman will keep dealing. He already shipped Nick Schmaltz to the Arizona Coyotes for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini, and on Sunday traded defenseman Brandon Manning to the Edmonton Oilers for Drake Caggiula and blueliner Jason Garrison, who’s now on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.
If Bowman plans more significant moves, Greenfield suggests they could include Brandon Saad or Artem Anisimov. “Saad doesn’t have a no-trade clause and Anisimov can be dealt to 10 teams from a list he submitted to the Hawks.”
THE ATHLETIC: If the Blackhawks become sellers, Scott Powers feels it’ll be interesting to see who hits the trade block. He wondered if Bowman will approach defenseman Duncan Keith about a trade. Artem Anisimov’s performance has improved since returning to Patrick Kane’s line. Powers wondered if Erik Gustafsson has a future with the Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad or Anisimov would have the most trade value. Moving either guy would also shed considerable salary-cap room that could be put toward other moves in the offseason. However, they’re both under contract beyond this season and could be difficult to move before the trade deadline.
Keith has a full no-movement clause, another four seasons left on his contract with a cap hit of over $5.5 million, and at 35 is on the downside of his long career. If, and that’s a big if, Keith is willing to accept a trade, that type of deal won’t take place until the offseason. He’ll probably want to go to a Stanley Cup contender, limiting where the Blackhawks can send him.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS.”
SPORTSNET: In his first “31 Thoughts” column of 2019, Elliotte Friedman reported the Calgary Flames are looking for left-handed options on defense. Blueliner Jusso Valimaki is sidelined until late-January with a high-ankle sprain. Noting Michael Frolik’s agent recently raised questions about his client’s role with the Flames, Friedman speculates they could check the winger’s value in the trade market but doesn’t see him moving unless it’s for a return that makes them better.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, unless the Flames can move Frolik for a good left-shot blueliner, he won’t be going anywhere before the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
Friedman believes the Vancouver Canucks could be “looking to see what’s out there for Nikolay Goldobin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goldobin, 23, sits fourth among Canucks scorers this season (23 points in 41 games) and is on pace for a career-best 45 points. However, he’s been frequently shuffled among Vancouver’s forward lines and was a healthy scratch last night against the Senators, increasing speculation he could be on the trade block. There are also ongoing concerns over his defensive game. Could be worth monitoring in the coming weeks, especially with the Canucks surging back into playoff contention.
Friedman suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins could be looking to better themselves, as could the struggling Minnesota Wild. He also wondered if the Philadelphia Flyers are buying or selling, and believes the New York Rangers will sell by the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is among the league’s most aggressive wheeler-dealers. He’s already swung two trades this season and could make more to improve his club’s playoff chances. I expect Wild GM Paul Fenton would love to make a deal to snap his club out of yet another midseason funk but there might not be much help in the trade market right now.
The Flyers should sell by the deadline. They’ve already changed management and coaches. It’s time to retool for next season.
As for the Rangers, TSN’s Darren Dreger expects they’ll shop pending UFAs such as Mats Zuccarello and Adam McQuaid, but said they haven’t decided yet if they’ll peddle Kevin Hayes. The 26-year-old center still has value to the Blueshirts now and in the future but it’ll depend upon how much he’s seeking on his next contract.
Friedman believes contenders will wonder how long the Ottawa Senators wait for commitments from pending UFA forwards Mark Stone and/or Matt Duchene.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If possible, Senators management could wait until up to deadline day, though I daresay they’ll prefer a firm decision one way or the other from both guys well before then. Stone indicated he wants to stay and said contract talks should intensify later this month. Duchene’s been vague over the status of his negotiations.
Friedman also believes there will be a market for Carolina Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland if he doesn’t re-sign. Like Stone and Duchene, he’s slated to become a UFA in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ferland has struggled since missing a couple of weeks with a concussion about a month ago. That could affect his negotiations with the Hurricanes and his trade value if they decide to shop him.