NHL Rumor Mill – February 4, 2019
Latest on the Blackhawks, Leafs, Lightning, and Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NOTABLE POTENTIAL BLACKHAWKS TRADE CANDIDATES
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz explored the Chicago Blackhawks’ trade options as the Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches. He believes defensemen Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith could be at the top of their “sale list”, as they’re both over 33 and still under long-term contracts. Both carry no-movement clauses and Seabrook reportedly declined to waive his for the time being. Gretz feels there will be a point when their performances take a steep dive over the remaining tenure of their contracts so it’s worthwhile for the Blackhawks to at least try to move them.
Other trade possibilities include center Artem Anisimov (limited no-trade clause until July 1) and winger Brandon Saad. Both are signed beyond this season and have seen their production decline.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jason Lieser reports the Blackhawks recent improvement could make their trade deadline plans murkier. The Blackhawks have risen to within five points of a wild-card berth, prompting Lieser to wonder if management might hold off making moves to see how far the team can take this run. He noted they’re already exploring whether they can shed the contracts of Keith and Seabrook.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t blame general manager Stan Bowman for trying to find suitors for Keith or Seabrook. If they weren’t under contract for so long (Keith has four more years remaining on his deal while Seabrook has five) they would have an easier time drumming up interest.
Maybe they find one but the interested party will probably want the Blackhawks to either take back a toxic contract, absorb a significant chunk of their annual salary-cap hit, or include a juicy sweetener (like a good young player, a first-round pick or a top prospect) to make the deal work.
The Hawks will likely have an easier time moving Anisimov by waiting until July 1, when his no-trade clause expires, though they might have to pick up part of his $4.55-million cap hit to make him more enticing to rival clubs. Saad, 26, has struggled to regain his 30-goal form of 2015-16 but has shown improvement of late, with 17 goals and 29 points in 51 games. If they can shed one of the other higher-salaried players they could retain Saad.
WILL MARNER RECEIVE AN OFFER SHEET?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin is skeptical about the possibility of Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner getting an offer sheet this summer. Noting a recent report by TSN’s Darren Dreger saying there are teams who are “100 percent” preparing one for Marner, Larkin questions the wisdom of telegraphing their intentions to Leafs management, pointing out that will increase their urgency to re-sign the winger before July 1.
Larkin also points out Marner could get a longer-term deal from the Leafs (eight years maximum) than from a rival club (seven years). Any offer north of $10.144 million per season would require sending four first-round picks to Toronto as compensation if he’s successfully signed away from the Leafs. There’s also the ill-will that would be created between the Leafs and whatever team signs Marner to an offer sheet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offer sheets rarely happen. Sure, Marner could sign on July 1 but there’s no certainty he will. For that matter, he could be disinterested in talking to other clubs.
As tempting as Marner might be, I’m in agreement with Larkin. Given the type of season Marner’s having, it could cost well over $10 million per season to ink him to an offer sheet, so that compensation of four first-round picks could be too expensive for most clubs to seriously entertain.
It’s a really stupid move for any club to leak their offer sheet intentions to the media about any player, especially this early in the year. That only increases the likelihood of the Leafs getting him re-signed before the end of June.
LIGHTNING TRADE OPTIONS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith speculated over possible trade-deadline moves by the Tampa Bay Lightning. An intriguing option could be a right-shot defenseman signed beyond this season, such as the LA Kings’ Alec Martinez, Ottawa’s Cody Ceci (restricted free agent), or Vancouver’s Chris Tanev. A physical forward like Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds or Carolina’s Micheal Ferland could also make sense. Smith adds it wouldn’t be surprising if the Lightning stands pat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts are dominating the standings so management isn’t under any real pressure to improve the roster. Still, if a reasonable offer presents itself I don’t doubt they’ll consider it.
NO MORE MOVES FOR THE DUCKS?
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Elliott Teaford speculates Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray might be done dealing. Murray already tweaked the roster with four separate trades this season, making the Ducks younger, faster and cheaper. He’s also attempting to re-sign pending UFA winger Jakob Silfverberg, though Teaford suggests he could be moved for draft picks and/or prospects if unsigned by the trade deadline. He expects they’ll soldier on with their veteran-laden roster for the remainder of this season and explore changes in the offseason.