NHL Rumor Mill – January 31, 2020
The latest on Chris Kreider and David Backes plus updates on the Blues and Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
EIGHT TEAMS INTERESTED IN KREIDER
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes at least eight teams have expressed interest in New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider. The Rangers’ asking price could be similar to what they got for Kevin Hayes last season, which was a young NHL player and a first-round draft pick. The club is still hopeful of re-signing the pending UFA winger, but there haven’t been any contract discussions yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun didn’t name those eight clubs, but various reports in recent weeks linked Kreider to the Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, and Vegas Golden Knights. We don’t know how serious their interest in the Rangers’ winger could be.
I suspect the Bruins, Avalanche, Penguins, and Blues could be the front-runners. Kreider has an 11-team no-trade list, which could determine where he goes if the Rangers shop him before deadline day. Speaking of the Blues…
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford recently included Kreider on his list of potential trade targets for the St. Louis Blues. Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Columbus’ Josh Anderson also made the list. He also included Arizona’s Taylor Hall, though he acknowledged the left winger won’t be going anywhere as long as the Coyotes remain in playoff contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong recently indicated much will depend upon when sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko returns to the lineup from shoulder surgery. If he’s not due back until the playoffs, that’ll provide the Blues GM with sufficient trade-deadline cap room to pursue another forward.
BACKES ON THE BLOCK?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty weighed in on David Backes not reporting to the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence, noting the club is fine with it. He also speculates they don’t want the veteran forward risking another injury that would prevent him from getting moved before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
The Bruins would have to absorb up to half of Backes’ $6-million annual average salary to move him, plus include a sweetener like a draft pick or a prospect. However, some non-contending clubs (such as the Anaheim Ducks) have indicated they’re willing to take on extra salary for the right price.
One of them is the Anaheim Ducks, who have a winger like Ondrej Kase and a defenseman like Josh Manson who could address the Bruins’ needs. Haggerty notes the Bruins and Ducks have recently scouted each other.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks might be interested only in taking on a high-salaried player who’s on an expiring contract this season. Backes has another season left on his deal. His eight-team trade list could also complicate matters.
The Bruins need second-line scoring, but they could be eyeing a healthier option than the oft-injured Kase. And speaking of the Ducks and what contracts they might be willing to take from other clubs…
SOME SUGGESTED DUCKS TRADE TARGETS
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently examined how the Ducks could weaponize their cap space to take on a bothersome contract packaged with some future assets. Among his suggested options were Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk, Boston Bruins winger Danton Heinen, or Arizona Coyotes winger Michael Grabner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens was merely spitballing here. He’s not saying the Ducks are targeting those players. Nevertheless, we can’t rule out the possibility they’ll try to exploit a cap-strapped playoff contender that’s trying to free up cap room to bolster their roster.