NHL Rumor Mill – February 16, 2021
More Evgeni Malkin trade speculation, an update on the Penguins’ efforts to reacquire Marc-Andre Fleury, the Leafs could be eyeing a Predators’ forward and the latest on Victor Mete in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MORE ON MALKIN
TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cited Mark Madden last week claiming he heard Evgeni Malkin would not be traded and an extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins may be looming. Madden has since walked it back a bit, citing a source saying Malkin “is not likely to be traded.” He said team co-owner Mario Lemieux doesn’t want to move the veteran center but “that could be up for review,” adding Sidney Crosby was the only true untouchable on the Penguins.
Benz wondered if the Florida Panthers could be a trade partner as Malkin’s wife and child reside in Miami full time. That could be his preference if the Penguins decide to trade him but Madden is sure Crosby doesn’t want Malkin to be traded. “If you made me bet right now, I would bet Geno finishes his career as a Penguin.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin has a full no-movement clause. If, and that’s still a big “IF” at this point, Penguins GM Ron Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke decide to make that move I suspect they’ll quietly make inquiries with potential trade partners before broaching the subject with Malkin.
They’ll want potential partners lined up that they can take to Malkin and say, “We’re thinking of trading you and here are the teams interested in your services. Choose one.”
DID THE PENGUINS MAKE A PITCH FOR FLEURY?
THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie last week saying Patrik Allvin, in his brief tenure as acting Penguins GM before Ron Hextall took over, made an offer to the Vegas Golden Knights for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury “a couple of weeks ago”. McKenzie also said Allvin’s predecessor, Jim Rutherford, had an interest in reacquiring Fleury, who played for the Penguins until selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft.
Rossi confirmed Rutherford’s interest last summer in Fleury but cited team and league sources denying any communication about the goalie between Allvin and the Golden Knights. A source close to Fleury said the netminder has “shut the door…for now” on playing for Pittsburgh again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rossi goes on to say any trade while Allvin was acting GM would’ve had to be approved first by team CEO David Moorehouse. A club source said Allvin hadn’t discussed a Fleury trade with Moorehouse and was neither near making or known to be working on a potential trade. Fleury also never came up during Hextall’s interviews with the Penguins before taking over as GM.
It’s clear Fleury’s focus is on helping the Golden Knights, who have no interest in moving him this season. The “Fleury back to Pittsburgh” speculation could ramp up again in the offseason but Hextall could have other plans in mind for the Penguins’ goaltending.
LEAFS EYEING GRANLUND?
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle wonders how aggressive Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will be with the Apr. 12 trade deadline just under eight weeks away. He cited Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman’s cryptic comment last week almost guaranteeing the Leafs would add a winger at the trade deadline who could play on the top six with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner or John Tavares and William Nylander.
Friedman didn’t elaborate but the consensus around the league suggests Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund fits the description. He could become available if the Predators continue to struggle. The winger signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Predators. Mirtle indicated the Leafs had an interest in him during the offseason but lacked the cap space to sign him.
Other possible rentals who fit the description include the Buffalo Sabres’ Eric Staal and Los Angeles Kings’ Alex Iafallo. Mirtle doubts the Leafs have the assets or cap space to land Sabres winger Taylor Hall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication yet if Granlund, Staal or Iafallo could be available at the deadline.
Granlund’s a former two-time 60-point winger whose production has suffered in recent years. He’s got decent numbers with the Preds this season (seven points in 12 games) but only one point in his last five contests.
Staal still has a 10-team no-trade list and we don’t know if the Leafs are on it. Iafallo, 27, had a career-high 43 points with the Kings last season and nine in 13 games this season. He could be available if he seeks more on his next contract than the rebuilding Kings are willing to pay.
CANADIENS GM SHOOTS DOWN METE TRADE RUMORS
TSN: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin once again stated he has no intention of trading Victor Mete. The defenseman’s agent made a public trade request earlier this season after his client was a healthy scratch through the Habs’ first seven games. “We have no intention of moving Victor and I was clear with the agent on that,” he said.