NHL Rumor Mill – February 17, 2021

by | Feb 17, 2021 | Rumors | 62 comments

Could the struggling Predators become sellers at the trade deadline? Is Marc-Andre Fleury available? What’s the latest on the Canucks? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the Nashville Predators could soon become sellers in the trade market if they don’t gain ground in the playoff chase. Players on one-year contracts slated to become unrestricted free agents such as Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula would be obvious trade candidates.

Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (NHL Images).

LeBrun also believes they could entertain offers for Mattias Ekholm. The 30-year-old defenseman is signed through 2021-22, lacks no-trade protection and carries an affordable $3.75 million annual average value. His skills as a top-four blueliner and playoff experience could make him enticing to a contender.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman also weighed in on the possibility of the Predators becoming sellers. He believes Granlund and Haula will draw attention along with forward Nick Cousins, who has two years left on his contract. The Predators have made centers Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen available in the past but money is tight among NHL teams this year.

Friedman also said Granlund is the player he guessed the Toronto Maple Leafs would consider if they pursue a top-six forward this season. He claimed they had an interest in the winger during the offseason but couldn’t make the money work.

THE ATHLETIC: Ekholm, Granlund, Haula, Cousins and Brad Richardson are on Adam Vingan’s list of potential Predators who could be moved by the trade deadline. He anticipates the asking price for those players will be draft picks and prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators are rapidly approaching the tipping point in this season. General manager David Poile could start peddling players if the club hasn’t climbed back into the playoff chase by the end of this month.

Never say never when it comes to trading an expensive underperforming player lacking no-trade protection like Duchene or Johansen. Nevertheless, I doubt Poile will find any takers for either guy unless he absorbs a big chunk of their respective annual average value. That’s something Poile usually isn’t keen to do. I don’t think he’ll want to add to his current $2.041 million in dead cap space.

Ekholm, Granlund and Haula will draw the most interest. Cousins and Richardson would be affordable pickups for contenders seeking to shore up their fourth-line depth for the postseason.

The Leafs’ interest in Granlund is interesting. He’s reached the 60-point plateau twice but his production suffered after the Preds acquired him from the Minnesota Wild. Maybe playing him among the Leafs’ top-six will help him rediscover his offense.


SPORTSNET: Friedman doesn’t believe Marc-Andre Fleury is available. The Vegas Golden Knights netminder is playing very well. “In a year when some teams can’t make it work even with four goalies, why would you move him?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should put to rest the recent speculation about Fleury’s trade status. He’s playing very well while Robin Lehner remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Golden Knights are all-in for a championship run this season. They won’t weaken their goaltending depth by trading Fleury.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports the names of Vancouver Canucks forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette are in the trade market. There is interest in Virtanen, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $2.55 million. He only had under seven minutes of ice time in a recent game against the Calgary Flames, which caught the attention of some clubs who had expressed some interest in him. Dreger also said the Canucks would like a young forward in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the decline in Virtanen’s performance the Canucks will be lucky to get a decent draft pick or prospect in return. No one’s parting with a young player for him unless it’s one whose play has also declined.


  1. Other than Ekholm I don’t see a lot of strong assets heading back Nashville’s way for guys like Haula, Richardson, Granlund & Cousins … Poile may be respected around the league but he is the guy who traded Seth Jones for a very underwhelming Ryan Johansen and gave Matt Duchesne a boatload of money and term … his shelf life in Nashville has long expired …

    • The Preds are at that point where they have to make a lot of changes. They are clearly on the downward track. I have long hoped that the Habs could find a way to pick up Eckholm. At this point, though, a logjam on their blue line and cap issues wouldn’t allow this.
      I am now thankful that the Habs missed out on Duchene. He and Johansen have a combined 12 points in a combined 25 games. Having an underperforming $8m Center is bad enough for a team. Having two of them is an unmitigated disaster.

      • Howard, if you are thankful the Habs missed out on Duchene, you must be overjoyed they missed out on Lucic.

      • I’m ecstatic he turned down Dorion’s offer of around $8 mil. While he admitted it wasn’t about the money – which was very good in his estimation – and wanted a chance at the Cup, he isn’t doing much to help the team that signed him.

    • Why not just make a coaching change, get a new philosophy on scoring and maximize the formerly good players on the team? If their last 3 big ticket centers all fizzled out when they arrived, I’d think it was not the players but the system.

      I don’t understand why no one is discussing that instead of trading too centers and d-men.

  2. On the Leafs;
    Vesey is now press box worthy.
    Bogosian is quietly one of the great moves made in the off season. For a 6th defenceman.
    Could they turn Nylander into
    Ekholm from Nashville and Rakell from Anaheim.

    • Lyle,

      why should anything Friedman writes “put to rest the recent speculation about Fleury’s trade status”?

      When Bobby Mack says something, we listen.
      Pierre LeBrun pretty much also.

      I wouldn’t say he’s a hack spinning for attention, not at all, but he’s certainly not in the class of the other two.

      When I read anything Friedman writes I think “OK, interesting”.
      I don’t think “OK, so that’s the deal”.


      • Just because you think less of Friedman than McKenzie and Lebrun doesn’t mean he’s an unreliable source of insider information, rich. Indeed, he’s among the best-connected in the business and has broken his fair share of deals. Regarding Fleury, I believe his assessment is spot-on.

      • Disagree on Friedman Rattus.
        Agree that Bobby Mack set the standard, but Friedman is pretty clear about qualifying what he writes, and sometimes why he didn’t write about something earlier.
        If something is just chatter he says so.
        We are talking about rumors after all.

        I read 31 thoughts every week and find it to be a good read.

    • Vesey was press box worthy in NY.

  3. I really get tired of Toronto media (yes even the ones that considered themselves National) everybody and their dog is going to or could be possible to go to Toronto) click bait and more click bait.

    • Lyle, et al,

      Don’t misunderstand, I also do not think Fleury is being traded, but that is more common sense than anything else.
      Look at Vegas – you would trade out of that configuration?
      Not me.

      As to Friedman, I’ve watched enough of him being a pompous talking head on the Toronto Broadcasting Corporation to be tired of his shtick.
      His “31 Thoughts” I find to be mostly vapid rehashings of minor conversations he’s had.
      But this is just imo.

      Sure, he’s got cred, but not to the point that, when he writes something, I feel I should automatically take him seriously enough that “it will be so”.

      And seriously, with the Fleury situation, since he’s merely mouthing what is common sense anyway, so what?

      I, rich, predict that Matthews and Marner will both (yes, both!!!) finish the season on the Leafs roster and without being traded to either Montreal or Boston.

      There – am I, too, now Friedmanesque?

      Yeah, I’m being hyperbolic to a degree, but nonetheless it’s the same type of low-hanging fruit, imo.


      • Not a good example at all. When have there been rumours of either one of those two players being on the move?

        Whereas there has been talk of Vegas moving Fleury in the past and other teams having interest or inquiring.

        Vegas was open to the idea before but with how much could be hanging on goaltending in this condensed season and their win now build, they have since decided it would be better to keep him.

        Your prediction is not even close to the same thing as a journalist reporting on information they say they have from sources, sorry.

      • Haha haha haha…you’re alright Rich!

        “Hockey Night in Canada…brought to you by…the Toronto Broadcasting Corporation”

        Back in the sixties it might have been called the Montreal Broadcasting Corporation but…not anymore !

  4. Agree they should trade Nylander sooner rather than later. Keep on saying key data in Leafland is the length of Matthews contract. I think there is a one year gap until McDavid arrives where he wants to be. Sorry Oiler fans I just believe this.

    I think Nylander is worth more than Ekholm but that is a guess as I have not seen the Nashville D man very often. Maybe Nylander plus for Granland and Ekholm.

    Leafs show amazing immaturity/lack of character sometimes as in Zamboni game, the Sens loss the other night, not finishing the Habs when they had them bouncing off the ropes, and the various early exits from the play offs. I have pondered this different times. And without proof, I keep sliding to these guys got too much out of life way before they got to the NHL and it just kept coming after.

    Kind of spoiled kid, self indulgent adolescent leading to weak character adults. Something is rotten in Denamrk

    • I can’t wait for mcdavid in the burgh either.

      • Unfortunately for us Chrisms

        McD will be in Edin “burgh” before Pitts “burgh”


      • As in the garden of edin?

      • No

        As in Edinburgh, Scotland

    • Old Blue Dog, he doesn’t come across as “grass-is-greener” type. He’ll be patient in Edmonton. They’re close – just a couple of tweaks – especially between the pipes.

  5. Mattias Ekholm isn’t a rental as he another year on his contract 6’4″ 215lbs LD, i know a team who could use him.

    The cost, it’s all about the cost; what does it cost to Ekholm in a Bruins uniform.

    way to soon look, UFA’s the bruins could look at Palmeiri, Hall, Grandlund, Helm and Bobby Ryan.

    • Ya, that is an interesting idea about Ekholm Caper. Since he isn’t a rental, is a 1st too much? And if you spend a 1st on him, you can’t pursue a forward.
      Our goals against is pretty solid, and we haven’t had Grz for a few games. personally I would like to see more 5 v 5 offence.
      Ideally DeBrusk finds his game and we simply add depth and keep the 1st. May wish we had it in a year or 2.

    • I’d love to see Ekholm in Boston. The downside is not only would it cost a young player and picks, but then Boston would have to deal a pick to Seattle to have them NOT take someone they can’t protect. As of now, they will protect McAvoy, Carlo and Grezlcyk. Do they want to lose Lauzon and/or Zboril? If you add Ekholm it makes it tougher. Although getting Elkholm will probably cost a Lauzon on Zboril.

      If they continue to fall would Nashville do a trade of
      Kase, Zboril and a second (maybe add a pick or prospect)
      Ekholm and Granlund

      • BosBrn32 with you on protecting McAvoy and Carlo, not so much on Griz. I protect Lauzon first, then Zboril, then Griz.

    • Mattias Ekholm….He would look good next two John Marino on our second defense pair. Then we can trade that Petersson for forward or a 3rd line center.
      Pierre Oliver Joseph can be the 3rd pairing defenseman..

      Matheson can be taxi squad along with Jusso Rikola.

      We get Dumoulin back soon.





      • And what are you sending back to Nashville for Ekholm BNG?

      • Hi BnG

        Very small sample size, but Matheson looked very good the last two games

        I’m hoping he continues that trend

        Depending on how well he does…. and of course with the surge in performance by P-O J…. Pens have a spare LHD

        Ceci has been doing fine; so no concerns there

        Marino has had a pretty tough go this year but I have confidence he’ll bounce back

        When healthy and if Matheson maintains his performance of last two games (that is a complete unknown) and if Marino can get back to form (to me he should)


        Marino/ Matheson

        Ceci/ P-O J


        Which leaves Pettersson as a traceable asset …. but they need to play him to showcase him

        Pens are struggling on line 2…. and the blame canNOT lie all on Gino

        Zucker has just been completely awful this year

        At first I thought it was an injury…. but it has gone on too long

        He needs to go in the press box or down the depth chart

        Last night Sully moved Kappy down , kept Zucker up, brought Turbo up

        I didn’t have an issue with Turbo up to stir up things; but it should have been Zucker down and keep Kappy there

        Zucker must have something compromising on Sully as that made no sense at all

        Correct, Pens could do with a solid 3C; but no room for maneuvering

        If … huge if, Matheson continues as he has these last two games (yes I am making way too much out of two games performance) ….AND Pettersson plays and shows his worth….AND there is a team ready to rebuild or already concluding they are out… perhaps they take Zucker with sweetener Pettersson for a 3C

        Sabres? Staal?

        Staal/Montour. For

        Zucker, Pettersson and a prospect

        Then put McC up with Gino and Kappy

        Just a thought

  6. Interesting how media coverage of hockey has changed over the years.

    Every day there’s talk of a trade that could/should would/might, if only/but why and it never ends. You’d think the game was who trades most and not hockey.

    It feels like media is playing fantasy hockey instead of reporting on hockey.

    Is anybody at the games, interviewing players, coaches, gms or all reports based on the same press briefings we all see.

    News feels like daily speculation.

    • I think the reason it has changed is because plenty of fans, like us, like to speculate and be pretend GM’s.
      If it wasn’t generating revenue, and they need to generate revenue, they wouldn’t do it.
      Simply giving us what we ask for.

      • “Simply giving us what we ask for.” is basically something new for us to consume. Imagine if this site wasn’t daily but every few days or times a week? We would look for a site that has something (and unfortunately anything) new. All these reporters need to create content for their outlet, some like Brooks, Simmonds, and Dreger love to make things up….err speculate and state option rather than facts which make them hot (s#it).

  7. Why do you trade Ekholm again. Wishful thinking . Slim to none and slim just left town. Wasn’t Poile the GM of the year recently ? If Ekholm was available it would be too costly. To my knowledge Poile has never held money .

  8. Yes Guy and OBD

    Onboard here

    I’ve stated many times… Leafs can’t win cup with 1/2 Cap on 4 Fwds ; and need better D, and likely a future with an improved tandem

    One of the 4 has to go… won’t be AM; can’t be JT (his control); and MM’s cap precludes almost every team

    WW… %~ $7 M in Cap but effectively balance of contract at only about ~$5M per… excellent trade bait

    WW for a top 3 (now or will be next year) RHD … 22-25 years old; with term; and at least $2M less in Cap hit … That’s the ticket to path of success

    Leafs can score no matter what… WW loss completely compensated for by the strengthening of the D and freeing up at least $2M in Cap space… which they will absolutely need next year (raises to [or equivalent replacements of… at higher than current Cap hit] Freddy and Hyman)

    Go Leafs Go

    • If Leafs want to go all in, I have to first get Iowa Prince hammered…



      Leafs would need to give up prospects/picks



      I like that top 4

      Hoffman in for WW

      Blais in for Mikeyev

      Not sure what picks /prospects that Dubas must give up

      I am sure I’d have to get Iowa Prince seriously hammered

    • “I’ve stated many times… “ yes we all seen it many times and don’t quite understand why you are not moving on? You want them to move on Nylander. Why because we all can list a handful of players that make less and are as good or better than he is, but i can play that game too and can list at the very least, twice as many players you come up with that make more or around the same as him and are way worse.

      One thing an impatient or Impetuous fan like yourself need to remember is that this team’s core is still under 25 and a lot of what we are seeing is what a young team acts when so many are watching and in most cases expecting way too much. WIth over a quarter of the season gone, we are talking about the perceived deficiencies of the 1st overall team in the league.

      There’s a lot to like on this team from the top – down, on and off the ice. That is something that could never of been said about any part of this organization at any point in the modern era. We are lucky the team survived years of mismanagement and complete incompetence which takes years and years filled with upsets and failures before you are able to exercise yourself from the stench that they were.

      • Hear, hear!

      • This may be the best sentence ever posted on here.

        We are lucky the team survived years of mismanagement and complete incompetence which takes years and years filled with upsets and failures before you are able to exercise yourself from the stench that they were.


      • That summed it up pretty damned good

        although it would pain me to see, for the sake of my daughter-in-law and grandson in Scarborough, both avid Leafs fans, it would please me in a round-about way to see them finally go all the way because they’ve had to endure some awful ribbing over the years – especially that Boston collapse.

      • Hi Ron

        All very valid points re perceptions at only part way through the year

        And very true re a good young core in AM and MM (both 24 this year); WW still 24 for another couple of months; Reilly (27 in 3 weeks)

        There is also 9 in their 30’s, one in their 40’s

        I was not looking at the snapshot of here and now…. just looking towards Cup in ‘21 and Cup in ‘22

        I really can’t see any way at all, none, in which Leafs can win in ‘21 or ‘22 (and perhaps even ‘23) with the make up of the team as is

        4 Fwds covering 1/2 Cap leaves no room for improvement needed to get the cup

        After this year Freddy and/or Hyman will not stay with a pay cut. The best Leafs could possibly hope for is a no raise extension. Any replacement of either to get at least equal caliber, will cost more in Cap

        I have doubts re Leafs winning the CanDiv’s playoffs. As at now, to me Habs overall better positioned. Leafs are expected to come out of CanDiv and very well could.

        Setting that aside… Leafs without major changes; are not in the “league” (excuse the pun) of Knights; Bolts; Avs; Bruins; and I could add Blues

        The only way to improve is with space… only way to do is move one of the 4 and as I said ; it won’t be AM; can’t be JT; and would be extremely difficult to move MM (due to his Cap hit) …Leaving only WW

        I’m certainly not steering away from what he brings to the team or his value to contract hit. On the contrary; that mix is exactly what makes him highly marketable in trade. He IS valuable to the team; his output per his Cap hit 👍👍

        The important thing I’m trying to say is that Leafs will score enough goals with or without WW

        Go scoring is not Leafs long term issue

        It’s the back end and tandem that falls short compared to Habs; Bolts; Bruins; Knights; Blues

        Leafs tandem better than Avs; but that’s it . Avs outside of the net, far superior to Leafs

        I’m absolutely willing to eat my words… will absolutely love to if a miracle happens and Leafs get cup in next two years

        As at now … I have a huge pessimistic outlook on that possibility. HUGE!

        I truly believe moving WW for a top 3; mid 20’s RHD (that comes in at a smaller Cap) ; would move the needle tremendously towards a cup

        There is little chance Army does it; but I challenge anybody who says that a (setting aside balancing sundries in picks/prospects) Parayko for WW swap doesn’t dramatically increase Leafs chances at a Cup. That swap IMHO; moves the needle a good chunk.

        It also frees up $1.5 M in extra (much needed) Cap space for tweaking the roster

        I keep my fingers crossed; I’m ready to eat my words… no hot sauce please


  9. Besides DeAngelo and Strome, I also wonder about Buchnevich future with Rangers. He seem to fall in and out of favor with Quinn and will need a new deal next season. I like Virtanen and maybe a better fit for Rangers who are always preaching a more north/south game. Gaudette is a Mass kid who Quinn should be familiar with from his college days. Rangers need something. Maybe they can get more out of Virtanen. At least he’s got a little more grit than most of their current players. Virtanen and Gaudette for Buch?

    • Slick, what’s up with Zibanejad?
      Not much production coming from the C position in NY right now.
      Is it just because of all the kids or?
      They are a really young team, and the only guys over 30 aren’t very good.

      I think the Rangers will be fine long term, but could use a top 6 C pretty soon.
      Plenty of cap space coming.

      • Ray. He had covid right before season started. I think he’s also been banged up a little besides. Team didn’t really make off-season improvements. Hoping all the kids take another step up

      • George: Might be. I’ve watched every game and he just doesn’t seem right. Not as explosive. Got nailed last night and went head first into boards. Hope he gets over it.

    • Interesting proposal. It has me looking up stats and making comparisons…

    • Rather have Greenway out of Minny than Virtanen or Gaudette,

  10. @Slick, interesting idea Virtanen and Gaudette for Buchnevich … if Virtanen turns things around and starts playing up to his earlier potential that wouldn’t be a bad trade… however, Buchnevich has 4 goals and 9 points in 14 games so far this season, so while he may sometimes be in Quinn’s doghouse (I don’t know, have to take your word for it), he’s obviously still a valuable scorer for them, on pace for around 22-23 goals and 52 points were it an 82 game season.

    I’m not sure the Rangers would be too enticed to accept two players whose value has never been lower, in exchange for that!

    As for Ekholm, he would be a fantastic fit in Winnipeg. On the right side they have Pionk, DeMelo and Poolman. On the left side they have Morrissey, Beaulieu, Forbort, Niku… Ekholm would be an amazing 2nd pairing guy behind Morrissey, but what would that take? Sami Niku + Wpg’s 2021 1st round pick for Ekholm and one of Nsh’s 4th rounders (the one from Col)?

    Philadelphia would be better with him. Gostisbehere has a slightly higher cap hit but is younger and has term, he could be a fixer-upper in Nashville as long as something else like a draft pick goes with him..

    He’d be a great fit in Carolina too – Brady Skjei is a bit pricey at 5.25, but would be another reclamation project, so to speak, for Nashville, a younger D-man that at least used to have upside. Ekholm and Nick Cousins for Skjei and sweetener(s), a pick and/or prospect…

    Boston has already been suggested, as well as the arguments for and against, so I won’t say any more on that one.

    Final idea:
    To Toronto:
    Ekholm, Granlund, Haula, Kunin

    To Nashville:
    Nylander, Dermott, Kerfoot

    Any sweeteners needed on either side of that one? The cap dollars work out to around $200k difference, Nashville could easily retain that. Dermott clearly won’t be given a shot in Toronto and Kerfoot is, well, just Kerfoot. Haula and Kunin are fine replacements for Kerfoot. Toronto’s left side looks great then with Reilly, Muzzin and Ekholm, they’d have a veteran 3rd line center in Haula with a young Kunin they can develop. The idea of a sweetener needed to go to Toronto in this one is based on the fact that Granlund could end up a bust in TO and leave in the off-season, Ekholm is signed for just one more year after this one, and there’s no guarantee Kunin will be much. Nashville gets Nylander, signed for 3 years beyond this one and Dermott gets his chance to shine. Toronto gets some veteran help to make a push for the cup. But is it enough?

    • Augustus. Buch has been a sort of enigma. Always seems to be on the cusp of breaking out. With Kakko and soon Kravtsov also considered high ceiling skill guys, Buch is in the awkward position of needing a new contract that’ll probably be in the 4-5 mil range based on current salary and being arb eligible. He’s also turning 26 in April.

  11. Pengy,

    15 BELOW zero in Iowa

    I’m NOT hammered–I decline your offer.

    I offer a brief moment of silence for the poor Rangers–with Trouba out 4-6 weeks, it appears that JJ is their viable alternative!?!


    • Hi IP

      That’s -15 F right?

      Which is -26 C…. Ouch

      Coldest I’ve ever been in (and it was with the wind-chill) was -40 …. a February in Quebec City

      Oddly enough -40 C and -40 F are the exact same temperature

      Bundle up, get your long-johns on; put a few Rock Elm logs in the Fireplace; open a bottle of Glenfidditch; after half is gone; call Army; make the deal


  12. Caper, Bark, 32, B&G and all

    Since you are all in the mood to swap, how about this:

    Bruins= Dunn and Sanford

    Blues= Frederic, Moore and a 4th

    • That’s not bad IP.
      Why do the Blues want to get rid of Dunn again?
      I don’t remember.
      I like Frederic and Moore isn’t needed unless 2-3 guys get hurt. So I guess we don’t need Dunn either?

      • I think Dunn will become a cap casuality. The Blues have some suitable replacement in the pipeline–Mikkola, Walman, Perunovich. I also don’t think they want to lose him to Seattle. (protecting Parayko, Krug, and Faulk)

  13. Jake Virtanen at 2.5 million has little or zero trade value. Unless some GM can sucker Bungling Jimmy into eating half his salary.

    Which wouldnt suprise me in the least.

  14. Bruins should play Vak in zboril s place and then decide which one of the 3 to trade.55/67/vak.

  15. Still looking for Wendel17?

    Is it true he had to be coaxed down from the CN tower?

    • Stuck on the elevator …. 1/2 way down

  16. I am guessing Wendel17 is in the penalty box. Rarely constructive and always inflammatory.

    When I pass I am going to have 6 Maple Leafs as my pallbearers … Just so they can let me down one more time.

    • Hi SilverSeven

      Great line… cracked me up

      As I am much younger than my boyhood Leaf heroes …. Sittler, Lanny, Salming; Keon; Henderson….and Johnny B and Armstrong are now gone; and I hope to outlive Leafs that are very close to my age (Gilmour etc.) then I guess it will be the big Swede and a group of current or future Leafs carrying me onward. Maybe if Wendel outlives me as well.

    • Ha!

  17. BR had a trade that might work

    DeBrusk, Studnicka,Clifton & a #1 draft pick for Sidney Crosby ….it’s a yes from me

    • It’s a no from me Joe

      If Sid does move (highly doubt it) it should only be to one of two teams …. Avs or Habs