NHL Rumor Mill – February 7, 2020
The latest on the Rangers, the Leafs might not be done dealing, plus updates on the Flames, Kings, Canucks, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doubts Henrik Lundqvist will be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but he can’t imagine the long-time Rangers goaltender will return with the Blueshirts next season. Buying out the final season of Lundqvist’s contract in June will allow the netminder and the club to “move independently into the future.” It would free up $3 million from their salary-cap payroll next season.
Jacob Trouba‘s no-move clause kicks in on July 1. Brooks thinks Rangers management would be foolish not to listen to offers for the 25-year-old defenseman before then. He feels promising Adam Fox will soon become their No.1 right-side defenseman. Fox is on an entry-level contract through 2021-22 and would be more affordable than Trouba’s $8 million annual average value. Brooks feels the Rangers need more from Trouba, who’s struggled to adjust in his first season in New York.
TSN: Pierre Lebrun reports contract talks have finally begun between the New York Rangers and the agent for winger Chris Kreider. He feels it’ll be difficult for the Rangers to re-sign Kreider, but there will be an effort made.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Lundqvist during the off-season. He’s coming to the end of his illustrious career, but might not be keen being relegated to a backup role with a rebuilding club next season. A trade is possible, but only if he waives his no-movement clause and if the Rangers absorb part of his $8.5 million AAV.
Seems a bit premature to give up on Trouba after only a year. I’ll be surprised if they consider moving him this summer. If there are clubs interested in him, the Rangers could be forced to pick up part of that expensive cap hit or take back another expensive contract in return.
LEAFS IN THE MARKET FOR A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN
TSN: Darren Dreger believes injuries to Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci puts the Toronto Maple Leafs in the market for a top-four defenseman. With the Los Angeles Kings retaining half of the recently-acquired winger Kyle Clifford’s salary, Dreger believes the Leafs are in a good position with Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot if the right deal can be found.
NHL.COM: Dave McCarthy reports Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Rielly’s status will determine what they’ll do leading up to the trade deadline. Rielly is expected to be re-evaluated at the end of this week. “We would want someone to move the needle for us in the long run, not in the short run unless it was the perfect deal,” said Dubas.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan suggests Anaheim’s Josh Manson or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba could fit the bill if the Leafs go shopping for a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space means Dubas must get creative to add a top-four defenseman under contract beyond this season. If he does acquire one, he must ensure he can free up sufficient room for when Rielly comes off long-term injured reserve.
If Manson’s available (and I don’t think he is), the Ducks won’t just give him away. The same goes for Dumba. Manson also carries a $4.1 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 12-team no-trade list. Dumba’s AAV is $6 million through 2022-23.
LATEST ON THE FLAMES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the recent injury to Mark Giordano could affect the Calgary Flames’ trade plans. There was talk blueliner T.J. Brodie could be available and they could pursue a top-six, right-shot winger. With Giordano sidelined, a source tells LeBrun they might instead pursue a depth defenseman. He’s not saying Brodie won’t be traded, but Giordano’s absence makes that more difficult.
Darren Dreger reports some wonder if Flames forward Sam Bennett is ready for a change. The Flames don’t want to move Bennett and they’re not actively shopping the versatile forward. Nevertheless, his name has been in the rumor mill for some time. Dreger believes Bennett would like to prove he’s a top-six forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After trading Michael Frolik to Buffalo last month, it was assumed the Flames would pursue a top-six forward. Giordano’s hamstring injury complicates things. Their recent slump will only ratchet up the pressure on GM Brad Treliving.
UPDATE ON MARTINEZ
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez remains available. The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have shown various degrees of interest, but the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t among them. The asking price is believed to be a second-round pick and either another pick or a prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that the Leafs weren’t interested in Martinez. He’d fit their wish to bring in a defenseman with term on his contract. It could be because they’re awaiting word on Morgan Reilly’s condition.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports uncertainty over the health of sidelined winger Micheal Ferland could push them into the trade market. He said New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds has come up in their internal discussions. They had an interest in Simmonds last summer before he signed with the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds is on a one-year contract worth $5 million and lacks no-trade protection. However, he reportedly prefers staying with the Devils. The Canucks only have just over $1 million in deadline cap space.
MORE SABRES SPECULATION
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Buffalo Sabres will continue their search for a forward. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s name has been in the rumor mill for a while. Dreger also suggested blueliner Brandon Montour, though he’s not saying he’s being shopped. The only way he sees either rearguard getting traded is for a top-six forward.
#Habs Kovalchuk said he’d like to wait a couple of weeks before asking his agent to open talks about a potential contract extension in Montreal. Kovalchuk said he wants to concentrate on picking up ground on the teams they’re chasing before addressing his personal situation.
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) February 6, 2020