NHL Rumor Mill – September 27, 2019
The latest on Jonathan Drouin and Jack Johnson plus some Blue Jackets speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CANADIENS GM DISMISSES DROUIN TRADE SPECULATION
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin dismissed recent media speculation suggesting winger Jonathan Drouin could become a trade candidate. “I don’t know where they come from,” said Bergevin. “Most of those reports are from somebody in his basement in Toronto. So I don’t pay attention to them, to be honest with you.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The speculation originated from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Eric Engels, who must have very expensive basement apartments in Toronto.
Friedman suggested Drouin’s status could be worth watching after he played just over 11 minutes of playing time during a preseason game earlier this week. Engels, meanwhile, reported an Eastern Conference executive told him Drouin’s name was “out there”.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien feels Drouin’s underwhelming performance and $5.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 hurts his trade value. If teams believe the Canadiens are desperate to move him, that’ll make it difficult to get a quality return. O’Brien wonders if it would make sense to swap Drouin for an equally polarizing player, like Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin always plays his cards close to the vest. If he’s listening to offers he won’t broadcast it. If he’s quietly shopping Drouin and somebody blabbed he could shut down trade talks for a while.
I think Bergevin will be patient with Drouin and see how things unfold this season. If there’s no improvement in the winger’s performance, the Habs GM could take serious steps to move him.
COULD THE PENGUINS SHOP JOHNSON?
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel pointed out defenseman Jack Johnson was a healthy scratch from the Penguins’ lineup during Wednesday’s preseason game against Detroit. He speculates there’s a legitimate chance the 32-year-old blueliner could be in the press box when the Penguins open the season on Oct. 3.
Johnson’s performance has declined in recent years. Vensel reminded us the blueliner was part of a failed attempt this spring to ship Phil Kessel to the Minnesota Wild. Kessel was subsequently shipped to the Arizona Coyotes.
THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi also wondered what Johnson’s absence from the Penguins lineup on Wednesday meant for his immediate future. The Penguins must become salary-cap compliant before the season opens. Rossi suggests trading Johnson, even if it means picking up part of his $3.25-million salary-cap hit, would make GM Jim Rutherford’s job much easier. However, multiple sources claim there isn’t anything going on involving Johnson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s not much of a market for a fading veteran defenseman signed through 2022-23. If Rutherford hopes to trade Johnson he could be forced to absorb a healthy chunk of his cap hit and perhaps add a draft pick or prospect. Even then, that might not be enough.
LATEST BLUE JACKETS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline speculates Blues Jackets winger Sonny Milano could be playing for another NHL team within a week. If they attempt to demote him it’s unlikely he’ll clear waivers. Milano’s decision making and play without the puck have affected his efforts to secure a roster spot with the Jackets. He now seems in a battle for one of the final fourth-line positions.
Portzline and Alison Lukan consider defenseman Ryan Murray as the best trade candidate if the Jackets need to acquire a forward. Lukan also included blueliners David Savard and Markus Nutivaara as possible trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One wonders if Milano’s off-ice legal issues could affect his trade value. He has a hearing on Oct. 16 on an assault charge related to a July incident in New York.