NHL Rumor Mill – February 22, 2020
The NHL trade deadline is 3 pm ET on Monday, Feb. 24. Check out the latest on the Leafs, Bruins, Devils, and Penguins in today’s rumor mill.
WHAT WILL THE LEAFS DO TO BOOST THEIR BLUELINE?
The Flames may have proposed a straight-up swap of pending UFAs, with Barrie going to Calgary for T.J. Brodie. The Golden Knights have extra salary cap space after trading Cody Eakin’s $3.8 million to Winnipeg yesterday, which could be put toward re-signing Barrie if they acquire him. The Hurricanes view Barrie as a rental player. They hold the Leafs’ first-round pick in 2020 from last summer’s Patrick Marleau buyout trade.
The Leafs could try to do a one-for-one trade by dealing Barrie for another defenseman or swap him for assets that can be flipped to another club to land an established blueliner.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran weighs in on the Maple Leafs need to add a defenseman before the upcoming trade deadline. Possible targets include the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin, the New York Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo, the Montreal Canadiens’ Jeff Petry, the Buffalo Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen, and the Chicago Blackhawks’ Erik Gustafsson.
McGran also examined the Leafs’ potential trade bait. He suggested sidelined winger Andreas Johnsson could be enticing to non-contenders. Other options include Tyson Barrie and rookie blueliner Timothy Liljegren.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Leafs clinging to one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, general manager Kyle Dubas is under tremendous pressure to find some blueline depth before deadline day. They have over $9.8 million in projected salary-cap space with Johnsson, Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci on long-term injury reserve. The latter two could return before season’s end, meaning Dubas must ensure he’s got sufficient cap space when they do.
Just because some teams have interest in Barrie doesn’t mean he’s going to one of them. The Athletic’s Harman Dayal believes Barrie would be an awkward fit on the Canucks’ blueline, pointing out they already have a skilled puck-moving rearguard in Quinn Hughes. The Golden Knights acquired Alec Martinez earlier this week, and might not have the assets the Leafs need to flip to another club for a defenseman. The same could be said for the Flames if a Barrie-for-Brodie swap falls through. The Hurricanes supposedly don’t want to part with picks or prospects for rental players.
As for those suggested trade targets for the Leafs, Gustafsson could be the easiest to acquire. It’ll take a first-line center or a second-line center and more to acquire Dumba. Brodin might be more affordable, but there’s no certainty the Wild wants to move him right now.
The Habs are reportedly keen to retain Petry. With the Rangers surging toward playoff contention, they could hang onto DeAngelo. The Sabres’ asking price for Ristolainen is a top-six forward, preferably a second-line center, which the Leafs can’t spare right now.
ARE THE BRUINS DONE DEALING?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty wonders if Bruins GM Don Sweeney could have another move planned after acquiring Ondrej Kase yesterday from the Anaheim Ducks. Having shed 75 percent of winger David Backes’ annual average value in the deal frees up nearly $2 million, which could be put toward another move before the trade deadline. Sending their first-round pick to the Ducks could take them out of the bidding for the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider or the New Jersey Devils’ Kyle Palmieri.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Following the Kase acquisition, Matt Porter reported Sweeney said he’ll continue looking for improvements to his roster.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites a well-connected source claiming the Bruins could be considering San Jose Sharks center (and former Bruin) Joe Thornton. The Bruins, however, aren’t the only club with interest in the 40-year-old Thornton. He’s been linked to the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, and Pittsburgh Penguins. Murphy also tweeted the Bruins might not be done pursuing a winger, with Danton Heinen and John Moore as possible trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kase could be the only significant move Sweeney makes before the deadline, but we can’t rule out the possibility of him swinging another deal. I doubt it’ll be for Thornton. While that would make a great story, the Bruins are already deep at center with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Charlie Coyle, though they could shift the latter to the wing and plug Thornton into the third-line role. I also think they’re out of the Kreider and Palmieri sweepstakes.
LATEST ON THE DEVILS AND PENGUINS
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco reports New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri remains unconcerned about the trade rumors swirling around him. He’s been linked to the Bruins, but their acquisition yesterday of Ondrej Kase could take them off the board. The Calgary Flames have also come up as a destination. It’s unclear if Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald is actively shopping Palmieri or merely listening to offers.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan lists the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and Calgary Flames as the most logical trade destinations for Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen’s been largely overlooked given all the trade buzz about Palmieri and the Devils’ trade activity earlier this week. We can’t rule out the possibility that he’ll land with one of those clubs listed by Ryan.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford would like to add another depth forward and is also taking a wait-and-see approach regarding his defense corps. The status of sidelined rearguards Brian Dumoulin and John Marino will determine if he pursues another blueliner. He’s open to adding a winger or a center.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports the Penguins are rumored to be looking at a fourth-line center to improve their faceoff win percentage. They’re also said to have some interest in New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford is perhaps the NHL’s ablest GM when it comes to swinging in-season trades. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tinkers a little more before the deadline.
While adding grit for the playoffs is never a bad idea, the Penguins remain built for speed. I’m not sure Simmonds would be a good fit. He’s slowed considerably over the last couple of seasons.