NHL Rumor Mill – January 2, 2020
Could the Penguins make a trade to offset the loss of Jake Guentzel? Could the Blackhawks use their newly-gained salary-cap space to bolster their roster for the rest of the season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS OPTIONS TO OFFSET GUENTZEL’S ABSENCE
THE ATHLETIC: With high-scoring Jake Guentzel sidelined four-to-six months by a shoulder injury, Rob Rossi examined some creative ways the Pittsburgh Penguins could offset the winger’s absence. By placing Guentzel on long-term injury reserve, they have an additional $6 million to bolster their roster. General manager Jim Rutherford has said he’ll probably wait until the Feb. 24 trade deadline to make any moves.
Rossi speculates Rutherford could shop his first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, suggesting New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider could be his top trade target. With Tristan Jarry playing well and Casey DeSmith in the minors, Rossi also suggested shopping goaltender Matt Murray, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. That could be a risky move if Jarry’s current hot performance should cool over the second half of the schedule.
Free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk is another option, but Rossi claims Rutherford isn’t interested.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the Penguins continue playing well, Rutherford could take his time and evaluate the trade market leading up to the deadline. They’ll get a big boost when sidelined captain Sidney Crosby returns to the lineup soon. Rutherford has a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer, so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility he’ll look into making a move or two in the coming weeks.
WILL THE BLACKHAWKS USE THEIR CAP SPACE TO BOLSTER THEIR ROSTER?
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jimmy Greenfield notes the Blackhawks have an additional $10 million at their disposal with defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan sidelined for the remainder of the season. As their salaries go back to counting against the Blackhawks cap payroll next season, the Blackhawks would have to pursue players on expiring contracts.
Greenfield suggested Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, or New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen as possibilities. He also pointed out the Blackhawks aren’t trading promising youngsters Kirby Dach or Adam Boqvist, and they probably won’t move their first-rounder. They also lack a second-round pick in the 2020 draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That lack of tradeable assets could make it difficult for the Blackhawks to get into the bidding for a decent playoff rental player. That’s assuming they’re still in the postseason chase by next month’s trade deadline. If they fail to gain ground in the standings by the end of this month, I doubt GM Stan Bowman will become a major buyer.
While Sabres veteran Dman, Zach Bogosian requested a trade, Buffalo forward Evan Rodrigues has also made his interests in a trade known. His name has been out there for awhile.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 31, 2019