NHL Rumor Mill – November 9, 2019
The latest on the Blues, Leafs, and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE BLUES TARGET KREIDER?
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with his readers, Tim Timmermann was asked if the St. Louis Blues could target New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider as a short-term replacement for sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko. While acknowledging the 28-year-old Kreider would make a lot of sense, Timmermann doesn’t see the Blues targeting a “big-name, big-salary guy” if there’s any chance Tarasenko could return before season’s end. He cites their limited salary-cap space as a factor.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting atop the Western Conference standings, the Blues aren’t under any pressure to swing a deal. They’ll attempt to offset Tarasenko’s absence from within.
Should they start struggling by midseason and appear in danger of falling out of playoff contention, GM Doug Armstrong could get busy in the trade market. Kreider might interest him but the Rangers could seek a first-round pick and either a top prospect or NHL-ready youngers in return. Kreider’s also a left winger while Tarasenko is a right wing.
UPDATE ON THE LEAFS
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked if he sees a player among the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top-nine forwards or top-four defensemen getting moved at the trade deadline. He was also asked how the Leafs could swing a trade for a better defense partner for Morgan Rielly with their limited salary-cap space.
Mirtle feels there’s no need to do anything rash. With Travis Dermott back from injury and Zach Hyman’s return imminent, he believes the Leafs will want to evaluate their full team. If a move needs to be made, it could come around late-January at the earliest. That was around the time last season when they acquired Jake Muzzin. Their limited cap space means a significant deal would have to be dollar-in, dollar-out.
Asked if the Leafs could pursue Detroit’s Jimmy Howard to shore up their goaltending depth, Mirtle believes his age (36), contract, and .907 save percentage over the last three seasons works against that possibility. If the Leafs feel they need a better backup they’ll probably explore more affordable options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has proven capable of juggling his limited salary cap to shed bad contracts and bring in players who can help his club. It would be foolish to underestimate him.
Still, it will be challenging to bolster the lineup or address a glaring weakness in-season while bumping up against the cap ceiling. Potential trade partners could ask for cheaper Leafs forwards such as Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson in return.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vengel recently reported Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t working on any trades at present. He garnered some salary-cap relief by shipping Erik Gudbranson last month to the Anaheim Ducks. That leaves him some wiggle room for potential moves near the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Penguins having weathered the absence of several players to injuries, Rutherford will take time to evaluate his roster as it gets healthier. He’s usually among the most active GMs in the trade market during the regular season. I expect he’ll have something up his sleeve as the trade deadline approaches.