NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2021
The latest Mattias Ekholm speculation plus updates on the Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Golden Knights, and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR EKHOLM
SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler recently listed the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers as five potential trade destinations for Mattias Ekholm. The Nashville Predators asking price for the 30-year-old defenseman is reportedly a first-round pick and two quality prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sadler’s list appeared before Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas stated his intent to pursue a top-six forward before the April 12 trade deadline. We can probably take them off this list.
The Athletic’s Adam Vingan believes the Canadiens and the Flyers have the organizational depth to meet the Predators’ asking price for Ekholm. Whether either club will make a serious bid remains to be seen.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently pointed out salary-cap constraints and the mandatory 14-day quarantine on players joining Canadian teams from American clubs as factors that could hinder his efforts in the trade market.
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could be reluctant to invest in a notable player with his club struggling to stay in the MassMutual East Division playoff picture. Ekholm has a year remaining on his contract and that could mess up Fletcher’s expansion draft protection list for his blueliners
BLACKHAWKS CONSIDERING TRADE OPTIONS
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reports Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is “actively having conversations” regarding trade possibilities with other clubs as deadline day approaches. Bowman suggested he could be a buyer and seller. He’s seeking players who can be a part of the club’s future but won’t ship out players he feels can be part of their long-term plans.
Bowman could use his salary-cap space to acquire a bad contract from another club if the return also includes valuable prospects and/or draft picks. He could shop pending unrestricted free agents such as Carl Soderberg and Mattias Janmark, a pending restricted free agent such as Lucas Wallmark, or defenseman Calvin de Haan as he’d be exposed in this summer’s expansion draft. He could also acquire a young player with term remaining on his contract, though they must be mindful they’re two contracts away from the 50-contract limit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple and Scott Powers recently discussed the possibility of the New York Islanders trading for Janmark, citing his affordable cap hit ($2.25 million), versatility and playoff experience. They also speculated that Bowman’s willingness to take on a bad contract might lead to discussions about bringing Andrew Ladd back to Chicago.
LATEST ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS, HURRICANES, SHARKS & SENATORS
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports the Vegas Golden Knights are unlikely to make moves before the trade deadline. They’ve made big splashes during the last two deadlines by acquiring Mark Stone and Robin Lehner but GM Kelly McCrimmon believes his club is in a different position now. He also pointed out his club has limited salary-cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With his club atop the Honda West Division, McCrimmon doesn’t have to make a move if he doesn’t want to. The Golden Knights GM could surprise us with a dollar-in, dollar-out deal. He also has defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (upper body) and his $8.8 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve but he’d have to shed salary to make room for Pietrangelo’s return.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke Alexander reports Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour was asked about the possibility of Eric Staal returning to the Hurricanes via trade. “That’s a question that’s probably for further up the chain than me, but I think we know he’s an awesome person,” said Brind’Amour of his former teammate.
Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell didn’t mention Staal but pointed out his club has a little bit of salary-cap space heading toward the trade deadline but not a lot. Alexander suggests if injuries continue the Hurricanes could be interested in a veteran at the right price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Alexander also pointed out the Hurricanes’ winning record and solid performance through the first half of the schedule. Waddell won’t be under any serious pressure to make a move if the club continues playing well.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Dalton Johnson reports San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson intends to reset his roster going forward by giving younger players more opportunities. Wilson also indicated he’s not trading his 2021 first-round pick at the trade deadline. Any decision on whether he’ll be an offseason buyer or seller will depend upon the club’s performance over the remainder of the season.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion has been working the phones. However, he thinks the coming trade deadline could be a quiet one for the Senators because of teams with limited cap space and the restrictions on travel at the Canada-US border.
Garrioch speculates veteran defensemen Erik Gudbranson, Mike Reilly and Braydon Coburn could draw interest from playoff contenders. He also thinks Dorion has a decision to make with defenseman Christian Wolanin given his limited role and playing time.