NHL Rumor Mill – February 4, 2020
The effect of a potential mutual contract termination between the Jets and Dustin Byfuglien, some possible goalie trade targets for the Leafs, and the latest on Josh Anderson in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MUTUAL CONTRACT TERMINATION FOR BYFUGLIEN AND THE JET?
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck cited a report by TSN’s Frank Seravalli claiming the Winnipeg Jets and Dustin Byfuglien’s representatives are working toward a mutual contract termination. It would also address the grievance filed by the Byfuglien camp in November over his suspension without pay. The 34-year-old defenseman didn’t report to training camp and subsequently underwent ankle surgery.
The agreement would make Byfuglien an unrestricted free agent after clearing unconditional waivers. He would also forfeit the $8 million in salary he’s owed for this season and $6 million he’s owed for 2020-21, the final season of his contract. It would clear his $7.6-million annual average value from the Jets’ salary-cap payroll this season and next.
Regarding questions over why the Jets didn’t trade Byfuglien, Billeck points out the big blueliner’s ankle surgery make his trade value nil for this season. Uncertainty over his status would also make him difficult to move him in the offseason.
The Jets are reportedly in the market for a top-four defenseman. Freeing up Byfuglien’s cap hit would provide them additional flexibility to make that move before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet reports Byfuglien could be placed on waivers as early as today. If Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is shopping around for a top-four defenseman, the sooner this happens, the better.
Based on comments made by coach Paul Maurice, I don’t think they’re in the market for a rental player. They’ll likely pursue one with term remaining on his contract.
GOALTENDING TRADE TARGETS FOR THE LEAFS
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox believes the Toronto Maple Leafs should pursue goaltending depth before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Last night’s injury to starter Frederik Andersen and backup Michael Hutchinson’s inconsistency should serve to hasten GM Kyle Dubas’ efforts.
Fox suggests Los Angeles’ Jack Campbell, Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith, the Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, San Jose’s Aaron Dell, Chicago’s Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, and Anaheim’s Ryan Miller as trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell’s availability could depend upon whether Kings’ management believes Cal Petersen is ready to become Jonathan Quick’s full-time understudy. Landing DeSmith or Georgiev could cost the Leafs a good, young winger. Dell’s had his issues with consistency over the last couple of seasons.
With the Blackhawks in playoff contention, Crawford and Lehner aren’t going anywhere. Anderson could be a viable option, provide the Leafs aren’t on his 10-team no-trade list. Remember, the Leafs and Senators have a recent trade history. While Miller’s career is winding down, I doubt he’s keen to leave his family behind in Anaheim for a final shot at pursuing the Stanley Cup.
BRUINS, CANADIENS INTERESTED IN ANDERSON?
TVA SPORTS: cites BostonHockeyNow’s Jimmy Murphy reporting sources claiming the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are among a long list of teams interested in Columbus’ Josh Anderson. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is said to be willing to entertain offers for the 6’3″, 222-pound Anderson.
The 25-year-old winger is in the final season of a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.85 million. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.
Anderson’s trade value has been affected this season by his low production and injuries. Murphy said it’s believed the Jackets’ asking price could be a prospect and a second-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Jackets jockeying for a playoff spot, Kekalainen could be reluctant to ship Anderson to a potential postseason opponent like the Bruins. The Canadiens, on the other hand, are all but out of the playoff chase. They possess an additional second-round pick in this year’s draft, which could give them an edge if they are bidding to land Anderson.
Bear in mind Kekalainen isn’t under pressure to move Anderson now. He could hang onto him for the playoffs and consider moving him in the days leading up to the draft in June.