NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2020
Check out the latest on Chris Kreider, Brandon Saad, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Galchenyuk and more in the New Year’s Day edition of the NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s lots of interest in Chris Kreider, but no word yet if the New York Rangers intend to trade the pending free agent winger. He points out they re-signed Dan Girardi in late-February 2014 and Marc Staal in January 2015, plus they took Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes to the wire last season before trading them. Contenders like the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and St. Louis Blues are said to be interested. There’s speculation about the Montreal Canadiens, but Kreider’s partial no-trade clause affects that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider might not be keen to accept a trade to the Canadiens if the Rangers shop him before the deadline. He might be more receptive to one of those contenders mentioned by Friedman.
Friedman also believes there will be interest in Brandon Saad once the Chicago Blackhawks winger returns from injury. He carries an annual average value of $6 million through next season. He believes the Edmonton Oilers looked into Saad, but the dollars won’t fit.
Speaking of the Oilers, Friedman believes they’re wary of trading draft picks. “They didn’t have a second- or third-rounder in 2015; their 2016 first-rounder is estranged from the organization; didn’t have a second-rounder in 2017; nothing in round three-to-five in 2018; and six picks last year.” He feels that’s one of the reasons why they passed on bringing back Taylor Hall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could hamper efforts to bolster their struggling roster leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
As of today, players on one-year contracts are allowed to sign contract extensions. Ottawa Senators winger Anthony Duclair and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner are two worth watching.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both will draw considerable interest if they hit the open market this summer. Duclair has resurrected his career with the Senators, and they could be intent on re-signing him. Lehner is outplaying long-time Blackhawks starter Corey Crawford. Both are due to become unrestricted free agents this summer, and Lehner seems the most likely to be re-signed.
Other goaltenders eligible for UFA status this summer include Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Colorado’s Pavel Francouz, and Winnipeg’s Laurent Brossoit.
A few teams are wondering what direction the Pittsburgh Penguins could go with their goaltending. Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents this summer. Speaking of the Penguins, Friedman wonders if Jake Guentzel’s shoulder injury might give a new lease on life for Alex Galchenyuk, who was reportedly being shopped by the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Galchenyuk was expected to be the odd-man-out once the Penguins’ forward lines got healthier. That could change with Guentzel sidelined four-to-six months.
The Calgary Flames have some spare bodies who aren’t happy being shuffled in and out of the lineup. Friedman said there’s interest in Mark Jankowski, who needs a fresh start. There’s also interest in versatile forward Sam Bennett, but Friedman isn’t convinced the Flames will move him unless they get an impactful return.
Friedman believes the New Jersey Devils are interested in some of the Buffalo Sabres’ available defensemen.
Free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk is hoping for some contenders to show more interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Boston Bruins were said to have had some interest in Kovalchuk. I expect they’ll look at better options in the trade market.
There could be news on Justin Williams’ plans by this weekend.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The former Carolina Hurricanes’ captain has taken time away from the game to decide if he’s ready to hang up his skates. If he decides to return to action, it’ll only be with the Hurricanes.