NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2020
The latest on Chris Kreider and Mathew Barzal plus updates on the Leafs and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NO CONTRACT TALKS BETWEEN KREIDER, RANGERS
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports Chris Kreider said he and the New York Rangers aren’t engaged in contract extension talks. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. With the Rangers sliding down the standings, there’s speculation he could be moved by the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline.
Kreider claims he’s unconcerned. “It’s not something I’ve really thought about,” he said. “I’m a Ranger until they tell me I’m not a Ranger.” Fox’s colleague Elliotte Friedman recently reported Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins are among the clubs interested in Kreider.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a growing sense the Rangers will wait for as long as possible to determine if they’ll be sellers by the deadline. If they fail to rise in the standings, I believe Kreider will be traded by Feb. 24 to one of those clubs cited by Friedman.
BARZAL’S FUTURE COULD GET INTERESTING
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports the New York Islanders have plenty to consider about Mathew Barzal. The 22-year-old first-line center is in the final season of his entry-level contract.
Cyrgalis believes the most likely scenario sees general manager Lou Lamoriello re-signing Barzal to a two- or three-year bridge deal worth between $6 – $7 million per season. The Bazal camp could counter by seeking a deal comparable to Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner’s six-year, $65.3-million contract.
Cyrgalis also said there’s a pesky notion that Barzal would love to play for the new Seattle franchise that starts playing in 2021-22. He played his junior hockey there and it’s close to his childhood home of Coquitlam, BC. Cyragalis wondered if Lamoriello would be so bold as to strike a deal with Seattle in which they take Barzal in the expansion draft in exchange for a first-round pick plus a bit more.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Barzal kicks up a fuss and wants off Long Island, he’s not going anywhere. I doubt he gets a deal similar to Marner’s. Given Lamoriello’s reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator, it wouldn’t be surprising if Barzal’s re-signed to a short-term deal with the promise of a lucrative, long-term contract down the road.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS AND HURRICANES
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun examined where the 31 NHL teams stand a month from the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He rehashed much of the recent speculation (Penguins’ linked to Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, potential destinations for Chris Kreider and LA Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, etc). However, there were two nuggets of interest:
LeBrun doesn’t believe the Toronto Maple Leafs have shown interest in LA Kings defenseman Alec Martinez yet. He wonders if they might pursue Minnesota Wild blueliner Matt Dumba, Calgary Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie, or Anaheim Ducks d-man Josh Manson. Landing one of them could cost the Leafs an asset such as winger Kasperi Kapanen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regarding Brodie, The Athletic’s James Mirtle tweeted the Leafs were on his eight-team no-trade list when they attempted to acquire him for Nazem Kadri last summer. Appearing on TSN’s Leafs Lunch yesterday, however, Mirtle said Brodie may have taken the Leafs off that list after learning of their interest in him. It could be worth keeping an eye on that, though I think the Leafs aren’t willing to part with Kapanen or Johnsson for a rental defenseman. Someone with term on his contract, like Martinez, Dumba, or Manson, would be more to their liking.
Losing Dougie Hamilton to injury could force the Carolina Hurricanes to pursue a more defensive-minded blueliner, suggesting LA’s Alec Martinez or San Jose’s Brenden Dillon as trade options. He also believes the Canes could be interested in Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner if he hits the trade block.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Blackhawks will trade Lehner regardless of where they are in the standings. He’s outplaying Corey Crawford and I believe GM Stan Bowman will re-sign Lehner unless his salary demands are outrageous. If he seeks something comparable to Montreal’s Carey Price or Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky, see ya later.