NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2021
Analysis of TSN’s list of trade-deadline buyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Frank Seravalli listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins as his eight buyers heading toward the April 12 trade deadline.
Seravalli cited the Leafs’ willingness to make a trade soon for a middle-six rental forward and their willingness to move a top prospect to do so.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Luke Fox listed Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Eric Staal, Columbus’ Nick Foligno, New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, Minnesota’s Mikael Granlund and Los Angeles’ Alex Iafallo as his top-seven pure rental targets for the Leafs.
Forget about Getzlaf unless he waives his no-movement clause which doesn’t appear likely. Hall also has a no-movement clause but Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said every option is on the table regarding his roster.
The Leafs were linked to Granlund for weeks in the rumor mill and could remain their main target. I wouldn’t rule out Staal as he’s affordable though his age (36) could be a factor. Getzlaf, Hall, Foligno and Palmieri could prove too expensive to add to the Leafs’ limited cap payroll. The Kings reportedly intend to re-sign Iafallo.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could pursue a rental defenseman primarily for expansion draft purposes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would rule out Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, who has a year left on his contract. A better fit could be Columbus’ David Savard if Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is willing to sell at the deadline.
New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello admits he’ll use his $5.5 million of LTIR space to find a replacement for sidelined winger Anders Lee.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall, Foligno and Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson could be options for the Isles. The Canucks, however, could be reluctant to move Pearson as long as they remain in the playoff chase. The Athletic’s Arthur Staple believes the Isles’ first-rounder in this year’s draft is most likely in play, that Lamoriello will consider all rental options, and he could act quickly.
Seravalli points out the Hurricanes made three moves at last year’s trade deadline and are more open to change than most on his list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been very quiet on the Hurricanes’ rumor front but that doesn’t mean they aren’t shopping around. They could perhaps use another secondary scorer or a physical checking-line forward. There’s some speculation about bringing Eric Staal back to Carolina but it remains to be seen just how seriously they’re entertaining that option.
The Golden Knights could use some depth at center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They have almost no projected trade-deadline cap space but have defenseman Alex Pietrangelo on LTIR. However, they could be unwilling to use that if he’s returning before the season’s end. It might have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move.
Seravalli expects Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic to make a move for a backup goaltender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If anything happens to starter Philipp Grubauer the Avs are screwed. Sakic is being patient but he could pull the trigger to add someone like Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier or San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk.
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher appears smitten with Predators’ defenseman Mattias Ekholm.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To trade or not to trade, that is the question for the Flyers. They need defensive help and Ekholm could be a good fit but adding him would mess up their expansion draft protection list for their blueliners.
Fletcher could be unwilling to part with assets if his club loses ground in the standings. If he does pursue a defenseman he could go the rental route with someone like Columbus’ David Savard.
The Bruins are competing with the Flyers for that final playoff berth in the East Division. It’s been a transition year on defense while core players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are aging.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Don Sweeney must decide if his club’s window of opportunity for a Stanley Cup run remains open or has slammed shut. If it’s the latter, he might not make any significant moves here. Their primary need is secondary scoring but they have limited trade assets.
The Oilers need either a scoring left-winger or a second-pairing left-shot defenseman but they aren’t interested in rentals or moving draft picks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could leave the Oilers looking at an affordable depth move rather than addressing those two issues. You’ve gotta give to get.
The Flames have sought an impact right-shot winger for some time but prices are expensive.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported earlier this week the Flames weren’t willing to pay the Ducks’ high price for Rickard Rakell. GM Brad Treliving could end up seeking a more cost-effective option like Detroit’s Bobby Ryan.
The Capitals could be in the market for an experienced goaltender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As an LTIR team they have no trade-deadline cap space available. GM Brian MacLellan recently indicated any move will be dollar-in, dollar-out.
Seravalli suggests Penguins GM Ron Hextall could look at bolstering his forward depth but he’s unwilling to part with futures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall would like to add some toughness to his lineup. That’s usually affordable but costs a draft pick to do it.
The Blues might not need any acquisitions as sidelined players such as Jaden Schwartz, Colton Parayko and Robert Thomas come off injured reserve. Sniper Vladimir Tarasenko recently returned from injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Doug Armstrong will likely evaluate his roster as it gets healthier to determine if a move or two is necessary by the deadline.
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois recently pointed out his club has “literally zero cap space”. Sidelined winger Nikita Kucherov could also return to the lineup before the end of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t fully dismiss the possibility of BriseBois making a deadline move. However, I’d say the odds are against it this year unless he’s moving one lower-salaried player for another.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin talked about how his limited cap space and the two-week quarantine period for players acquired from American teams could hamper his efforts to add to his roster. That doesn’t mean he won’t be looking but he will have to get creative to make it work.
The Stars could end up as sellers if they don’t gain ground in the standings soon. Kings GM Rob Blake could make an addition but won’t waste assets on a rental player. Ditto the Blackhawks as GM Stan Bowman recently indicated. He’s interested in players with term on their contracts. He’s also reportedly willing to use his $22 million of LTIR space to take on a bad contract if he can also get draft picks and/or prospects with the deal.
The Panthers could make a move but they aren’t under pressure to do so as they jockey with the Lightning and Hurricanes for first place in the Discover Central Division. I also doubt Wild GM Bill Guerin is interested in rental players. I’d put the Rangers among the sellers if they fail to gain ground on the Bruins and Flyers in the East.