NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2020
Suggested defense targets for the Leafs, possible destinations for former Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, updates on the Sabres, and much more today’s NHL rumor mill.
SUGGESTED BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE MAPLE LEAFS
SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva compiled a list of seven potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bolster their injury-depleted defense corps. They include T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames, Brenden Dillon of the San Jose Sharks, Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings, Nikita Zadorov or Ian Cole of the Colorado Avalanche, and Zach Bogosian of the Buffalo Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodie, Hamonic, Dillon, and Martinez would be the best bests. Brodie and Hamonic were rumored to be available earlier this season, recent speculation linked Dillon to the Leafs, while the Kings are reportedly willing to entertain offers for Martinez. I’m not convinced the Avs intend to shake up their blueline, while the oft-injured Bogosian would be too risky.
The Flames could seek a skilled, affordable forward like Kaspari Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson for Brodie or Hamonic. That could also be the rebuilding Kings’ asking price for Martinez. I believe Dillon could be had for a draft pick and a prospect.
POTENTIAL SUITORS FOR GALLANT
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton lists the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, and the Seattle expansion franchise as potential destinations for former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, who was fired yesterday along with long-time assistant coach Mike Kelly.
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen includes the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets among his list of possible suitors.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan wonders if Gallant will be reunited with former Red Wings teammate and long-time friend Steve Yzerman in Detroit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-respected “players’ coach” who won the Jack Adams Award guiding the then-expansion Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, Gallant won’t be unemployed for long. The Wings seem like the best fit, as Yzerman could prefer bringing in his own man after inheriting coach Jeff Blashill. With the Wings’ rebuild stalled, a shakeup behind the bench could be necessary.
The Wild could be ready for a coaching change if they miss the playoffs. The Devils have shown some improvement under interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine, but probably not enough to ensure he keeps the job. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle general manager Ron Francis checks to see if Gallant would like to coach another expansion franchise.
Most of the other candidates will be determined by how those clubs finish this season. I don’t think the Avs will part ways with Jared Bednar, who’s done a fine job helping to mold that club into a perennial playoff club. The Flames could stick with interim coach Geoff Ward. Paul Maurice deserves credit for juggling the Jets’ depleted blueline, though a strong performance by goalie Connor Hellebuyck is the biggest factor there. The Blackhawks could stay the course with Jeremy Colliton if they reach the postseason. The Stars are doing well under Rick Bowness so there’s no certainty he’ll be replaced this summer.
LATEST SABRES SPECULATION
WGR 550: In a recent interview, Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill said he wants to make trades that will add to his roster. He denied that he’s waiting for the trade deadline to make moves. “We’re open to trying to find something that can certainly add to our group, but it hasn’t materialized. We’ll continue to look at it, and there’s no use to saying that we’re close on a trade or this and that. Until it actually happens and we announce something, it’s just talk.”
THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski said the Sabres are stuck salary-cap wise for this season. However, they’ll have $33 million in projected salary-cap space next season and would be best served waiting until the summer to make significant trades. Lysowski also said Botterill currently refuses to trade defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Brandon Montour.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon recently explored the limited trade scenarios for Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian. One would be a money-in, money-out deal, or attempting to swap him for another club’s unhappy player. Otherwise, the Sabres could be faced with either a mutual contract termination or he finishes the season in Buffalo and departs in the summer as a free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have featured prominently for months in the rumor mill. They’ve already made a couple of deals, shipping Marco Scandella to Montreal for a draft pick and flipping that pick to Calgary for Michael Frolik. However, they’ve yet to make the big move that brings them a much-need scorer.
The fact Botterill cannot find a suitable deal suggests rival clubs are attempting to exploit the Sabres’ desperate plight this season. It could also indicate there’s no interest in the players Botterill is shopping.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported there’s been at least one legitimate offer for New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen, with more expected to come. Devils captain Andy Greene said he hasn’t discussed his future with management. Winger Wayne Simmonds would prefer to stay with the Devils. The trio is due to become unrestricted free agents in July.
Friedman also wonders what the Devils will do with veterans who have term remaining on their contracts, such as Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman. He always assumes New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello wants Travis Zajac.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Vatanen will be moved before the trade deadline. There could be a market for Greene or Simmonds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both are still with the Devils after the 3 pm ET deadline on Feb. 24. Palmieri has come up a lot in recent rumors, most of which link him to the Boston Bruins.
Friedman expects the Golden Knights will continue their search for a defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ve been linked to the Devils’ Sami Vatanen. They could also kick the tires on Los Angeles Kings blueliner Alec Martinez. Given their limited cap space, it’ll have to be a dollar-for-dollar deal or they’ll have to make a salary-dumping move to clear sufficient cap room.
Friedman also repeated his previous report suggesting San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson isn’t interested in blowing up his roster core. Friedman expects interest in defenseman Brenden Dillon and winger Melker Karlsson, and wonders if there’s a market for goalie Aaron Dell. He also anticipates Wilson will be aggressive this summer.
He also said the Anaheim Ducks are willing to use their cap space to help a cap-strapped rival, provided they’re willing to part with young assets.