NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2019
The next potential trade-rental targets and updates on teams that aren’t interested in Ilya Kovalchuk in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Ellliote Friedman looked at potential playoff rental targets now that Taylor Hall’s off the market.
He considers New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider and Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau as obvious targets, based on the past behavior of those clubs with their previous notable unrestricted free agents. Both clubs attempted to negotiate with their former UFAs right up to last season’s trade deadline before moving them. Friedman expects the same for Kreider and Pageau. He also speculates there could be a bit of interest in Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.
Friedman expects the Los Angeles Kings will shop pending UFAs such as Tyler Toffoli and Trevor Lewis. The Buffalo Sabres have two UFA blueliners in Zach Bogosian and Marco Scandella, who’ve been healthy scratches at times this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider and Toffoli seem likely to be dealt by the deadline, but I’m not so certain about Pageau. The rebuilding Senators are showing improvement and Pageau’s been a part of that. The Senators might have to overpay a bit to keep him, but I can see Pageau staying in Ottawa.
Bogosian requested a trade and I expect the Sabres will try to accommodate his wishes. They could retain Scandella if they’re still in the playoff hunt by the deadline.
Several pending UFAs are on clubs that are trying to win this season, which eliminates the possibility they’ll be shopped this season. They include Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, Boston’s Torey Krug, and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. He expects those teams will deal with the fallout after the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Unless those clubs completely collapse over the next two months, I don’t expect any of those players to be shopped. And in the case of Backstrom, I think the Caps intend to re-sign him no matter what.
The same goes for Toronto’s Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun, Carolina’s Joel Edmundson and Erik Haula, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Washington’s Radko Gudas, Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz, and Arizona’s Carl Soderberg.
Friedman also points out several clubs trying to win that could shuffle the deck. He thinks that could affect Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic, Florida’s Mike Hoffman, and Nashville’s Mikael Granlund.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund is probably the one in that list most likely to be shopped. He’s struggled to adjust with the Predators since being acquired from Minnesota last season. This could be a case of a player simply not being the right fit with a particular team. Granlund could regain his scoring touch with another club.
Vancouver could be worth watching. Friedman believes there could be interest in pending UFAs Josh Leivo, Chris Tanev, and Jacob Markstrom. However, the Canucks could stick with those three if they’re still in the playoff chase by February.
There could be a market for defenseman Erik Gustafsson if he doesn’t re-sign with the Chicago Blackhawks before the trade deadline. Depending on where the San Jose Sharks are in the standings, Justin Braun could also be available.
While the New Jersey Devils were in the process of trading Taylor Hall, Friedman said a team contacted them expressing interest in defenseman Sami Vatanen. Someone reported the St. Louis Blues offered up Vince Dunn as part of a pitch for Hall, but Friedman would’ve been surprised if they had. He also thinks Wayne Simmonds might prefer staying with the Devils, as he didn’t enjoy his experience last season as a rental player.
UPDATES ON KOVALCHUK
PIT and CGY waiver moves aren’t related in any way to Kovalchuk because neither club has interest in signing him.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 18, 2019
😜 I probably should have added that BOS appears to have no interest in signing Kovalchuk either. I should now spank myself. 😳 I said, Pardon! #eversinceivebeenthechamp — Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 18, 2019