NHL Rumor Mill – February 12, 2021
Could Sidney Crosby one day be traded to the Avalanche? Did the Penguins attempt to reacquire Marc-Andre Fleury? What are some possible trade destinations for Sam Bennett? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WOULD CROSBY BE A GOOD FIT WITH THE AVALANCHE?
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater cites NHL insider Darren Dreger telling TSN radio yesterday he wouldn’t be surprised if Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby asked to be traded to a Stanley Cup contender or a club on the rise.
Dreger made that suggestion on the premise of the Penguins either missing the playoffs or if Crosby feels they aren’t a Cup contender anymore. He proposed the Penguins captain might do this as a way for the club to secure pieces for their future in return for sending him to “the Colorado Avalanche the New York Rangers whatever the team is,” with Dreger saying Colorado “makes a lot of sense to me, by the way”.
Sending Crosby to the Avalanche would unite him with hometown buddy Nathan MacKinnon. Dater acknowledged that would give the Avs the benefit of Crosby as their No. 2 center while still in his playing prime for the next two or three years. However, he wouldn’t part with Bo Byram or prospect Alex Newhook along with two or three first-round picks plus a roster player to get him.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski also weighed in on the possibility of Crosby being traded. He noted there was a hot rumor soon after Jim Rutherford stepped down as general manager that Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux and Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin (a good friend of Lemieux from their playing days) discussed the possibility of dealing Crosby to Montreal before Lemieux “snapped out of it”. He said a Penguins team source vigorously shot down that rumor.
Kingerski considers Crosby trade chatter as “mostly ridiculous”. However, Dreger’s scenario in which the Penguins captain accepts a trade if the return brings pieces that will benefit their future “doesn’t sound insane in that context.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The notion of Crosby getting traded sounds silly. Nevertheless, we all know the old chestnut that (say it with me) “if Wayne Gretzky can be traded anybody can be traded.”
Most observers believe new Penguins GM Ron Hextall and new president of hockey operations Brian Burke will meet at some point with Crosby and the club’s ownership to discuss the team’s future and his place within it. All reports thus far suggest Lemieux and co-owner Ron Burkle want to build around their aging core of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. That could be the game plan for the remainder of this season and next regardless of how this season shakes out.
The notion of Crosby wanting out after all these years seems absurd. For all we know, Sid’s a Penguin for life no matter what. The more pressing issue is addressing the futures of Malkin and Letang. Both players are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Assuming Crosby doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild, or if he feels the Penguins’ championship window has slammed shut, he will want to sit down with the front office and discuss potential trade options.
Teams will be interested in Crosby, but fitting him into their roster will be costly in terms of absorbing his annual $8.7 million cap hit and the return. The Penguins will want quality draft picks, top prospects and one or two good young NHL players in return.
The Avalanche, Rangers and Canadiens could all meet the return needs. However, they’d have to ship out considerable salary to make room for Crosby’s cap hit. The Penguins have limited space themselves so they’ll be reluctant to absorb any portion of his salary.
PENGUINS ATTEMPTED TO REACQUIRE FLEURY
Kingerski also cited insider Bob McKenzie telling NBC Sports the rumors last summer of the Penguins attempting to reacquire Marc-Andre Fleury was true. Rutherford and Penguin assistant GM Patrik Allvin both tried to bring the 35-year-old goalie back home. However, the Vegas Golden Knights lacked the cap space to absorb part of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if the Penguins might try again in the offseason. Fleury has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. He also has a 10-team no-trade list but perhaps he’d waive it to return to the city where he had his best seasons.
POTENTIAL TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR BENNETT
THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian recently examined several possible trade destinations for Sam Bennett. The Calgary Flames forward is reportedly interested in a change of scenery though trade chatter involving him has cooled of late.
Salvian noted the reports out of New York suggesting a swap of Bennett for Tony DeAngelo. She also cited two Sportsnet reports claiming the Flames have no interest in the troubled Rangers defenseman. She feels the Blueshirts could still be a viable trade option if they offered up a less controversial return.
Other options include the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild. Salvian questions if the Leafs have the right piece they’d be willing to send to Calgary to make the trade work. She cites colleague Thomas Drance’s recent assessment suggesting Bennett would be the long-term solution to the Canucks’ third-line center position.
Michael Russo, The Athletic’s Wild beat reporter, believes the Wild could be a good fit provided the Flames are willing to take back a significant contract in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see how DeAngelo would be a good fit with the Flames but the New York Post’s Larry Brooks insisted they had some interest. However, he also recently noted the market for DeAngelo has dried up so a Bennett-for-DeAngelo swap seems unlikely now.
The Leafs are pressed for cap space so they can’t afford Bennett’s $2.55 million cap hit unless they move out some salary. I don’t think the Wild would have the type of return the Flames would seek, specifically a versatile third-line forward to replace Bennett.