NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2021
What next for the Flames after Sam Bennett’s trade request? Is a Jake Virtanen-for-Victor Mete swap possible? What’s the latest on the Avalanche? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR BENNETT AND THE FLAMES?
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson wondered what Flames general manager Brad Treliving will do in the wake of Sam Bennett’s recently reported trade request. He suggests making no move at all is one of his options.
Gilbertson believes Bennett seeks more ice time “and an increased role with another bunch.” The 24-year-old Bennett has seen mostly third- or fourth-line minutes this season while others such as Dillon Dube, Josh Leivo and Dominik Simon have gained top-six playing time.
Bennett, however, hasn’t looked anything much like the dominant player he was in last year’s postseason. He’s the type of player the Flames prefer to keep for what he brings to their bottom-six, but he hasn’t proven that he’s earned top-six minutes in Calgary despite plenty of opportunities.
Gilbertson believes there will be plenty of interest in Bennett but doesn’t expect the Flames will get much of a return for the former first-round draft pick. Complicating the matter is most potential trade partners reside in the United States, meaning any players received in return would require a two-week quarantine before joining the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving could wait until the offseason to move Bennett unless the season goes sideways or the forward’s concerns about his role come to a head. Bennett’s inconsistent play could affect what the Flames hope to get in return.
Salary cap space is also a concern. Cap Friendly shows the Flames with over $1.3 million in projected wiggle room with Bennett’s annual average value at $2.55 million. Moving him won’t free up sufficient room to land a significant player in return.
The Province’s Patrick Johnston suggests Bennett would look good as a third-line center with the Canucks. He’s not sure how they’d make it work, speculating the Flames will want a forward in return. However, if Bennett is seeking a top-six role, he might not be a good fit in Vancouver.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston took note of Sunday’s report claiming Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete had requested a trade. He cites the Montreal Gazette’s Andrew Berkshire signing Mete’s praises as a transition defenseman and defensive blueliner, believing he could definitely help the Canucks.
Johnston noted the Canadiens and Canucks had a conversation about Vancouver winger Jake Virtanen during the 2019 NHL Draft. Given Virtanen’s inconsistent play, however, a source suggested 30 teams would’ve passed on qualifying his rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin quickly and firmly denied the report about Mete asking for a trade. If he does shop the blueliner, however, I don’t think he’ll revisit any interest he once had in Virtanen. The Habs are pretty deep at forward this season, and that’s with Michael Frolik on their taxi squad and Joel Armia sidelined by a concussion.
Both teams have limited cap space. Virtanen’s also making $2.55 million per season while Mete’s AAV is $735K for this season. Doesn’t seem like there’s a fit there. Hey, Virtanen and Bennett have the same AAV! Hmmm…
LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Peter Baugh was asked if the Colorado Avalanche were going to trade for a goaltender. He doesn’t think so as long as the tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz is healthy. However, they could consider it if Francouz remains sidelined and third-stringer Hunter Miska struggles.
Baugh also doesn’t expect the Avalanche to trade a defenseman like Ryan Graves or Connor Timmins if Bowen Byram plays well. He also doesn’t expect depth forwards JT Compher or Joonas Donskoi will be moved.