Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 2, 2020
Is Dustin Byfuglien done for the season? Should the Bruins trade David Krejci? What’s the latest on Kaspari Kapanen, Mikael Granlund, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Andreas Athanasiou? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
BYFUGLIEN DONE FOR THE SEASON?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Dustin Byfuglien could be out for the remainder of the season. The Winnipeg Jets defenseman has missed the entire campaign to date, first after being suspended for failing to report to training camp and then following ankle surgery. Friedman said he’s yet to resume skating.
If the 34-year-old Byfuglien doesn’t return, it could provide the Jets with much-needed salary-cap flexibility. They’ve had to hold his $7.6-million annual average salary until his situation was sorted out. Friedman also said Byfuglien’s future could be revisited during the summer.
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck weighed in on Friedman’s report, pointing out the Jets were said to be in the market for a top-four defenseman. If Byfuglien’s out of the season, that will free up cap room before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman and Billeck indicate, the Jets have been handcuffed cap-wise by uncertainty over Byfuglien’s status. If he’s done for the season, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can either keep him suspended without pay or place him on LTIR. That would give Cheveldayoff considerably more room to work with before the trade deadline.
SHOULD THE BRUINS TRADE KREJCI?
BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont suggests the Bruins should consider trading center David Krejci. He points out Krejci’s line has been inconsistent this season. The veteran center is 33 and has a year left on his contract with an annual average salary of $7.25 million. Nevertheless, Dupont thinks Krejci could be one of the Bruins’ most tradeable assets. He has a 15-team trade list, which could put him in play if GM Don Sweeney wants him there.
Moving Krejci would also free up salary-cap space to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug. Dupont believes Charlie Coyle could take over the second-line center role, with either Par Lindholm or Jack Studnicka taking over the third-line center position.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Krejci before the deadline would be a bold move by Sweeney, but I doubt he’ll do it. Krejci’s playoff experience will be invaluable to their pursuit of the Stanley Cup this spring. Perhaps that move happens in the off-season.
UPDATE ON KAPANEN
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said winger Kaspari Kapanen was a healthy scratch from Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators for “internal accountability.” Keefe said it was a one-time issue and the winger would address it on Monday. Kapanen has surfaced in recent trade rumors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to find out what this “internal accountability” stems from. Perhaps Keefe is unhappy over Kapanen’s overall performance. The 23-year-old winger is on pace for a 45-point performance but was held pointless in his last five contests.
There’s speculation Kapanen could be used as trade bait to add a top-four defenseman. This incident could dampen his trade value a little.
LATEST ON GRANLUND, KOVALCHUK, AND ATHANASIOU
THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan reported winger Mikael Granlund’s offense has improved since John Hynes took over last month as head coach of the Nashville Predators. Granlund will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Vingan wondered if the Predators will retain him to push for a playoff spot, or shop him before the trade deadline if they know they can’t re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the deadline just over three weeks away, Predators GM David Poile could take the next couple of weeks to evaluate Granlund’s performance and that of his club before reaching a decision. If he keeps playing well and the Predators get back into the playoff chase, he could keep the winger as an own rental. Otherwise, Granlund could be playing for another club by Feb. 24.
Belief from some teams that the price to rent out Ilya Kovalchuk from Mtl is no less than a 2nd RD pick; also hearing Habs have discussed merits of keeping him b/c of his positive impact both on ice/in the room. Still 3 weeks to go before Feb. 24 but might be 11th hour decision.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 1, 2020
You can bet Ken Holland would trade rights to Puljujarvi for Athanasiou but Wings might want a draft pick too. Maybe OK, as long as it’s not a second-rounder? Fourth or higher? Fine — Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) February 1, 2020