NHL Rumor Mill – December 7, 2019
Potential goaltender trade targets for the Maple Leafs, and examining Sami Vatanen as a trade option for the Golden Knights in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SUGGESTED BACKUP GOALIE TARGETS FOR THE LEAFS
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen listed 10 potential backup goalie targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re badly in need of a reliable understudy to spell off overworked starter Frederik Andersen. Their limited salary-cap space could hamper those efforts. Analyst Brian Burke believes Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas could be forced to overpay by giving up a second-round pick or a good young prospect. Nevertheless, Burke feels it’s worth it to address this issue.
Options for under $1 million from the AHL include the Philadelphia Flyers’ Alex Lyon, the New York Islanders’ Christopher Gibson, the Nashville Predators Troy Grosenick, and former Leafs backup Garret Sparks, who’s now in the Vegas Golden Knights’ system.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Dubas is unwilling to part with Burke’s suggested asking price for a quality backup, he could be stuck with these options. I don’t see any of them suitably addressing the Leafs’ backup issue. I doubt a reunion with Sparks is in the cards for the Leafs.
NHL options under $1 million include the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tristan Jarry, and the Los Angeles Kings’ Jack Campbell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev is close to becoming waiver-eligible. Based on his performance this season, I don’t believe the Rangers will part with him. Same goes for the Penguins with Jarry. Campbell’s a possibility but only if the Kings are confident in calling up promising Cal Petersen this season.
Those that are above $1 million include the Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan Miller, the Penguins’ Casey DeSmith, and the Chicago Blackhawks Collin Delia.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Miller will accept a trade to an Eastern Conference. Boylen speculates the Penguins could prefer keeping DeSmith as insurance in case Jarry or Matt Murray become sidelined. The Blackhawks could consider Delia as their backup next season once they part ways with Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner next summer.
TORONTO STAR: Rosie DiManno wonders if the Tampa Bay Lightning might consider parting with Curtis McElhinney. Like the Leafs, the Bolts are stuck in a funk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I don’t think the Lightning are at that stage.
SHOULD THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS PURSUE VATANEN?
LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson suggests Sami Vantanen could address the Vegas Golden Knights’ pressing need for blueline depth. The 28-year-old right-shot defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
Emerson points out Vatanan’s been a solid offensive performer his entire career, plays a responsible defensive game, and is among the best players on a bad Devils team. With the Devils season slipping away, they could put Vatanen on the trade block. His addition would enable the Golden Knights to shift Nate Schmidt or Shea Theodore back to the left side where they’re more comfortable. He could also skate on their second power-play unit.
The asking price could be draft picks or prospects, something the Golden Knights have in abundance. They could offer up one of their second-rounders in the 2020 draft or one of their three in 2021, along with a later-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know if the Golden Knights are eyeing Vatanen as a trade option. As the season progresses, however, I daresay Vatanen will start drawing interest from playoff contenders seeking a top-four blueliner.