NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2020
Updates on the Penguins, Rangers, and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS SHOPPING GALCHENYUK, INTERESTED IN TOFFOLI OR ZUCKER?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are talking to teams again about moving winger Alex Galchenyuk. They’d like a draft pick or a bottom-six forward in return because that’s the role Galchenyuk’s filling with them, one that’s not suited for his skills.
Bob McKenzie reports replacing sidelined winger Jake Guentzel remains the priority for Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. It’s assumed he’ll look at rental players like the Rangers’ Chris Kreider or the LA Kings’ Tyler Toffoli. However, McKenzie said Rutherford could seek a hockey trade by moving players off his roster to acquire a top-six forward signed beyond this season.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Rutherford could free up cap space by placing Guentzel’s $6 million annual average salary on long-term injury reserve for the remainder of the season. He could also attempt shopping Galchenyuk ($4.9 million) or Nick Bjugstad ($4.1 million).
It’s hard to imagine Rutherford getting much in return for Galchenyuk, leading Mackey to speculate the Pens might have to part with draft picks and/or prospects, perhaps even their 2020 first-round pick. He listed Kreider, Toffoli, Chicago’s Brandon Saad, or Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau as trade targets.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: cited a report from The Athletic’s Michael Russo indicating the Penguins have renewed interest in Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker. They attempted to acquire Zucker last spring in exchange for Phil Kessel but the latter nixed the deal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie suggested Kings winger Tyler Toffoli as another trade option for the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford will do something before the deadline. With his club playing well despite their injury-depleted roster, he can take his time finding a suitable deal. I think he’ll try moving out Galchenyuk and/or Bjugstad, perhaps to bring in that top-six winger like Saad or Zucker with term on his contract. That could involve packaging his first-round pick in the deal.
Zucker is nearing a return to action after being sidelined by a broken leg since Dec. 17. His availability will depend upon where the Wild are in the standings and if GM Bill Guerin is willing to part with him for the right offer.
It was Guerin’s predecessor Paul Fenton who nearly shipped Zucker to Pittsburgh for Kessel. Fenton was also close to sending Zucker to Calgary at last year’s trade deadline. Guerin, however, could decide Zucker’s worth retaining, especially if the Wild remain in the playoff chase by the trade deadline.
LATEST ON ANDERSSON AND DEANGELO
TSN: Darren Dreger said reports are suggesting New York Rangers forward Lias Andersson is potentially dealing with mental health issues. He and his agent denied this, indicating he’s to undergo a minor surgical procedure on his foot. Unhappy over his role with the Rangers, Andersson returned to Sweden last month and requested a trade.
Bob McKenzie reports the Rangers are receiving calls on Andersson. They’re prepared to move him before the Feb. 24 trade deadline if they get the right prospect in return. They’re less interested in a draft pick. They also don’t want to be hasty moving Andersson to avoid sending the wrong message that they’ll trade players in their system who pack up and go home.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers management is staying mum on Andersson’s situation, their three-goaltender system, and potential decisions on pending UFAs Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast and RFAs Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, and Alexandar Georgiev. It’s believed Andersson hasn’t spoken with the Rangers since his suspension for walking out on their AHL affiliate in Hartford. Brooks said there’s an extreme disconnect between the young forward’s self-evaluation and the Rangers’ assessment of his status and performance
Brooks also reports DeAngelo could put the Rangers in salary-cap hell next season. The 24-year-old defenseman is on pace for a 69-point performance this season. Forced to accept a one-year, $925k contract last summer, DeAngelo has salary-arbitration rights this summer.
Brooks suggests Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson’s new contract (six years, $4.55-million per season) as a comparable, wondering how high DeAngelo’s asking price could go. He also thinks Ryan Strome’s play this season could push the winger into the $5-$6 million per season range.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson’s made cryptic statements to the Swedish media regarding his time within the Rangers’ organization. He said many incidents disturbed him, leading one journalist to speculate the young forward was bullied. It seems there are irreconcilable differences between Andersson and Rangers’ management. If he’s not moved before the trade deadline, he’ll likely get traded in the offseason.
Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $66.7 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. At DeAngelo’s current rate of production, he could seek over $5 million annually on his next contract. Given his age and value to the Rangers’ blueline, they can’t afford to lose him. It could force the Rangers to part ways with Kreider and Fast.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
TSN: Darren Dreger yesterday told TSN Radio 690 that the conversation around the league that the Montreal Canadiens aren’t thinking about a complete rebuild, nor are they interested in doing so soon. Pierre LeBrun believes Habs management will decide their plans for the remainder of the season during their Jan. 20 bye week.
If they haven’t gained ground in the standings by then, LeBrun feels they could become sellers. If recently-acquired winger Ilya Kovalchuk continues playing well, LeBrun thinks he could be flipped at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Barring a stunning reversal of fortune, the Canadiens will be sellers leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Pending UFAs like Kovalchuk, Nate Thompson, and Marco Scandella are the most likely trade candidates.
Don’t expect high-priced talent like Carey Price and Shea Weber to be going anywhere. I also don’t see them shopping RFA Max Domi. He’s well-liked within the organization, loves playing in Montreal, and among their few skilled veteran forwards. Maybe they try shopping Tomas Tatar, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.