NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2020
Latest on the Leafs, Canadiens and Red Wings, plus updates on Chris Kreider, Braden Holtby, and P.K. Subban in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST TSN “INSIDER TRADING” SEGMENT
TSN: With Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin sidelined, Bob McKenzie reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are getting calls from clubs hoping to take advantage of the situation. He also suspects the Leafs are making their inquiries on the front.
McKenzie believes the idea of trading for a defenseman isn’t entirely out of the question. Replacing Rielly and Muzzin on the left side of their blueline is their short-term need, but their long-term need is on the right side. He wonders if the Leafs would be prepared to part with an affordable young forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson or Alex Kerfoot for a defenseman with a similar contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs must also find a reliable backup goaltender for overworked starter Frederik Andersen. Complicating efforts is their limited salary-cap space. Addressing either issue will take a dollar-for-dollar deal.
There are fans and pundits in Montreal calling upon the struggling Canadiens to trade Carey Price and Shea Weber. However, Pierre LeBrun reports Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he has no intention of moving either guy at the trade deadline. As the roster gets younger, Bergevin feels Price and Weber provide invaluable leadership.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once upon a time, Bergevin also said he had no plans to trade P.K. Subban and we know how that turned out. He could consider moving Price or Weber if a sweetheart offer were presented to him. Nevertheless, I don’t see him trading Price or Weber anytime soon. If such a move were to take place, it would be in the offseason when teams have more cap space and a willingness to spend.
LeBrun also reports the status of Chris Kreider remains front and center in the rumor mill. The New York Rangers winger is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. There could still be contract negotiations between the two sides, but it’s believed Kreider will be moved before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, with the Blueshirts perhaps absorbing up to half of his $4.625-million contract. LeBrun speculates the St. Louis Blues or Boston Bruins could come calling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers pick up that much of Kreider’s cap hit, they could seek an extra draft pick or prospect as part of the return. Kreider also carries an 11-team no-trade list. It’s believed Canadian teams aren’t on his list.
LeBrun also weighed in on how Nicklas Backstrom’s new contract could affect Braden Holtby’s future with the Washington Capitals. The Capitals goalie will become a UFA on July 1. Both sides agreed to wait until the end of the season to discuss a contract. LeBrun feels it’ll either be a short-term contract or Holtby goes to market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said he’d have to get creative to find sufficient salary-cap space to re-sign Holtby. The veteran goalie’s ongoing struggles and the promising play of backup Ilya Samsonov could affect those negotiations.
MacLellan must ensure he has sufficient long-term cap room to re-sign Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, and Jakub Vrana at the end of 2020-21. Even if Holtby agreed to a short-term hometown discount (and that’s not going to happen), the Capitals GM would have to shed salary to make room for him and leave enough long-term cap space for the others.
SUBBAN NOT ASKING TO BE TRADED
NHL.COM: P.K. Subban said he’s not asking the New Jersey Devils to trade him. The 30-year-old defenseman was acquired by the Devils last summer and has two years remaining on his contract. He said he’s never requested a trade and remains focused on helping the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if Subban asked to be traded, the decline in his performance over the past two years and his hefty $9-million annual average value would make him a tough sell. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be a market for him, but the Devils wouldn’t get a significant return and would probably have to pick up a healthy chunk of his annual salary-cap hit.
UPDATE ON THE RED WINGS
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James recently reports Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman doesn’t intend to be passive as the trade deadline approaches. “I’m looking for ways to build for the future and trying to acquire draft picks or prospects or young players that can come into the organization sooner or later.”
St. James expects the rebuilding Wings to be active at the trade deadline. However, the players they’d like to move (Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Mike Green, and Frans Nielsen) have struggled this season and likely won’t yield much on the trade market.