NHL Rumor Mill – January 7, 2019
Latest on Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, Pat Maroon, and Andre Burakovsky in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ZUCCARELLO AND HAYES
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes it’s time for the sliding New York Rangers to trade pending unrestricted free agent winger Mats Zuccarello as soon as they get a legitimate trade offer. Zuccarello admits the uncertainty over his future is affecting his performance but took responsibility for it.
With the Rangers season starting to fall apart, Brooks doubts they’ll be able to stoke a bidding war for the veteran winger by hanging onto him until the trade deadline. He feels there will be plenty of contenders seeking second- and third-line depth who could be interested in Zuccarello.
Brooks also wonders what effect the Rangers’ current slide could have upon management’s decision whether to re-sign or trade pending UFA center Kevin Hayes. While Hayes’ improvement this season should improve his worth in the trade market, it could also make him a valuable part of the Rangers’ future.
Brooks believes Hayes will be the best rental player leading up to the trade deadline, though the standard return for a player of that caliber (late first-rounder and a reasonable prospect) doesn’t seem nearly enough.
Ideally, he sees the Rangers picking up “a non-playoff team’s first-rounder plus a young player who could play in the NHL next season as either a top-nine forward or top-four defenseman, perhaps plus another pick or player if there is enough interest. Carolina is desperate for help up front, may miss the playoffs and has depth on defense through the organization that includes the rights to Harvard righty “D” Adam Fox.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zuccarello’s struggles this season will affect his trade value. Still, the Rangers could hold off until early-February before pulling the trigger in hopes of getting a decent return. At this point, I think they’ll be seeking a second-round pick but might have to settle for a third or even a fourth-rounder.
As for Hayes, while it’s possible a rival club could be desperate enough to overpay I’ll be very surprised if the Rangers get what Brooks suggests. A first rounder plus a promising young player plus another pick or player? Sorry, I don’t see Hayes garnering that much.
MAROON COULD BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford suggests if St. Louis Blues winger Pat Maroon could be on the move once again. The Blues signed Maroon, a St. Louis native, as a free-agent last summer to a one-year, $1.75-million contract but he’s struggled to score and was a healthy scratch three times since November.
Rutherford expects the Blues to move Maroon after his full no-trade clause changes on Jan. 31 to a modified eight-team no-trade list. He also wonders if the club could pressure him to waive his clause early. A league source suggested a fifth-round pick is the best the Blues could get in the trade market. They could also place him on waivers, though if claimed they won’t receive any compensation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maroon has just three goals and 11 points in 38 games this season, putting him well below his 40-plus point pace of the previous two seasons. A playoff contender could see him as an affordable rental addition. He could be on the move well before the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
LATEST ON THE CAPITALS
THE WASHINGTON POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Isabelle Khurshudyan was asked about possible moves by the Capitals leading up to the trade deadline. Looking back at previous trade-deadline moves under general manager Brian MacLellan, she notes he opted for defensemen. Given his previous deals (Tim Gleason, Mike Weber, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jakub Jerabek, and Michal Kempny), she said they were happier with the subtler moves such as Gleason and Kempny and expects they’ll once again pursue a depth defenseman.
Asked about struggling winger Andre Burakovsky, she believes their preference is to retain him and hope he gets his game back on track. Burakovsky is slated to become a restricted free agent in July. MacLellan won’t deal away the 2013 first-round pick unless he gets a return that provides immediate help.
Khurshudyan also notes the Capitals remain haunted by the Filip Forsberg to Nashville trade six years ago and are understandably cautious about trading away young, skilled forwards. If they did move Burakovsky, she believes they’ll want a middle-six forward in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Khurshudyan’s take. Burakovsky isn’t untouchable and if the Capitals got a reasonable offer they’ll consider it. Nevertheless, I think they’ll hang onto him and look for an affordable rental depth defenseman by the deadline.