NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2020
The Jets are reportedly trying to trade Dustin Byfuglien, plus the latest on the Avalanche, Blackhawks, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
JETS TRYING TO TRADE BYFUGLIEN
TSN: Frank Seravalli cites sources claiming trade talks involving Dustin Byfuglien have increased in recent days. The big defenseman has been suspended without pay by the Winnipeg Jets since the start of the season. He has yet to resume skating after undergoing ankle surgery in late-October. There’s no guarantee he’ll be traded as his return to action this season remains a long shot.
Those close to Byfuglien wonders if he might be rejuvenated by reuniting with his old Chicago coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Dale Tallon with the Florida Panthers. Or perhaps the Minnesota native might consider the Wild an attractive destination. Byfuglien must be on a team’s reserved list by the Feb. 24 trade deadline to be eligible for the post-season.
Byfuglien is signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $7.6 million. He had filed a grievance against the Jets with the NHLPA, but Seravalli said that became moot once the blueliner declined to continue the on-ice portion of his rehab in January. The Jets can still terminate Byfuglien’s contract after the trade deadline if unable to move him before then.
THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith lists the Panthers, Wild, and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible trade destinations for Byfuglien.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is setting a high asking price for Byfuglien. He’ll want to get that cap hit off his books as soon as possible and use the savings to bolster his roster.
As Seravalli points out, if Cheveldayoff can’t find a trade partner, he can still use the cap savings from Byfuglien’s suspension before the trade deadline and terminate his contract afterward without incurring a penalty. Byfuglien was suspended for refusing to report to camp and underwent ankle surgery without consulting team doctors. That’s sufficient grounds for the Jets to terminate his contract.
The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck suggests Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Ottawa’s Vaclav Namestnikov, and Buffalo’s Conor Sheary as trade options for the Jets, but we don’t know if Cheveldayoff is targeting those players. Namestnikov and Sheary would be more affordable in terms of salary and return than Dumba and Manson. Billeck also suggested New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, but I don’t see that move happening.
LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE
THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark took note of the presence of Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin at two recent Colorado Avalanche games and the speculation linking the injury-plagued Avs to Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. Looking at what the Tampa Bay Lightning paid for Blake Coleman and the Vancouver Canucks for Tyler Toffoli, the asking price for Tatar could be costly. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said the recent rash of injuries won’t change the club’s trade-deadline plans, adding he might look for a depth goaltender.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Sakic also indicated there are certain players his club has been eyeing that would be impact players in the dressing room. He also said top prospects Bo Byram, Connor Timmins, Martin Kaut, and Alex Newhook aren’t going anywhere.
Dater believes Sakic seeks a player-for-player deal. He also suggested New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev, Chicago’s Robin Lehner, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, or Ottawa’s Craig Anderson as goalie trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin’s presence in Denver has certainly stoked speculation he and Sakic could be cooking up a deal. If Tatar is available, I’d assume Bergevin would want a good young player as part of the return.
Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Graves have been floated on the internet as trade candidates, but I don’t see Sakic weakening his defense by moving either guy. Tyson Jost also surfaced in the rumor mill, but the 21-year-old forward is seeing fourth-line duty as he struggles to play up to expectations as a former first-round (10th overall) draft pick. Sakic should have an easier time finding a decent backup goalie.
UPDATE ON THE BLACKHAWKS
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report the Chicago Blackhawks have set high asking prices (first-round picks, prospects) for potential rentals like goaltender Robin Lehner and defenseman Erik Gustafsson. So far, no one’s biting. Any club interested in Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Ian Mitchell could find the asking price too overwhelming.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger suggested Gustafsson as a good fit for the Vegas Golden Knights. He believes the Blackhawks blueliner could be had for a reasonable price. That’s assuming the Hawks end up lowering their prices if their rental players haven’t moved when deadline day dawns.
NO PAGEAU FOR THE FLYERS?
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall doubts the Philadelphia Flyers will be able to acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He doubts the Senators will retain any of Pageau’s salary, and their asking price (first- or second-round pick, plus a prospect) would be too expensive for a rental player.