NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2020
Having made the first NHL trades of 2020, the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, and Montreal Canadiens might not be done dealing. Check out the latest in today’s rumor mill.
MORE MOVES IN STORE FOR FLAMES, CANADIENS, AND SABRES?
SPORTNET’s Eric Francis, the Calgary’s Sun’s Wes Gilbertson, and The Athletic’s Scott Cruickshank report the Calgary Flames freed up salary-cap space by shipping winger Michael Frolik to the Buffalo Sabres for a fourth-round draft pick in 2020. The move clears $4.3 million from the Flames’ cap payroll.
Gilbertson and Cruickshank report Flames general manager Brad Treliving doesn’t intend to sit on his new-found cap space. Gilbertson believes this allows Treliving the flexibility to go shopping for another roster piece. Cruickshank speculates the Flames GM could be in the market for a big, top-six winger, preferably on the right side.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider would fit the bill, though he skates on the left side. So would Chicago Blackhawks left-winger Brandon Saad, but his $6-million annual average salary through 2020-21 could be tricky to accommodate unless a salaried player heads to Chicago or the Blackhawks pick up part of his cap hit. The LA Kings’ Tyler Toffoli would be a natural right-side fit. It’ll be interesting to see if Treliving pursues one of those guys before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens’ acquisition of defenseman Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres indicates they’re not giving up on their playoff hopes this season. Scandella will provide some welcome left-side blueline depth and will likely line up alongside young Cale Fleury on their third defense pairing. If this move pays dividends for the Habs, Engels speculates GM Marc Bergevin could make more to keep his club’s postseason dreams alive.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Scandella proved a cost-effective depth move for the Canadiens, giving up just a fourth-round pick in 2020 to acquire him. The Habs still have three picks (including their own) in the fourth round. With over $5.5 million in cap space, Bergevin has room to make another addition or two before the deadline.
That’ll depend, of course, on where they are in the standings. Sidelined forwards Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia and Paul Byron should be back in the lineup by month’s end. If they’re still in the hunt by then, perhaps Bergevin will go shopping for a top-four defenseman.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported via Twitter the Buffalo Sabres could have more moves coming. “Sounds like Buffalo is still on the hunt and willing to move other pieces,” he wrote.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adding Michael Frolik from the Flames will provide experienced right-wing depth to their forward lines, but they could use a scorer to take some of the offensive burdens off their top line and perhaps offset the absence of sidelined winger Jeff Skinner. With the Sabres’ struggling to stay in the playoff race, perhaps their next move will come in the following days.
They still have depth on their defense to draw upon as trade bait. Blueliner Zach Bogosian has requested a trade, as has forward Evan Rodrigues, but it could take some creativity on management’s part to find a suitable return.