NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2021

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Rumors | 53 comments

Will the Panthers seek a defenseman with Aaron Ekblad sidelined? Could the Blues have an interest in Sabres winger Taylor Hall? What’s the latest on the Avalanche, Lightning, Canadiens and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


NHL.COM: Dan Rosen believes losing top defenseman Aaron Ekblad (fractured leg) for 12 weeks puts the emphasis on the Florida Panthers to acquire a blueliner before the April 12 trade deadline. Options could include the Buffalo Sabres’ Brandon Montour, Columbus Blue Jackets’ David Savard, New Jersey Devils’ Sami Vatanen and New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo.

Like Ekblad, they’re all right-shot rearguards. Montour, Savard and Vatanen are pending unrestricted free agents while DeAngelo is in the first season of a two-year contract with an annual average value of $4.8 million.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Panthers general manager Bill Zito was already scouting for a top-four defenseman before Ekblad was sidelined.

Could the Florida Panthers look to acquire Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm? (NHL Images)

One option could be the Nashville Predators’ Mattias Ekholm but there’s no certainty he’ll be available with the Predators back in the playoff race in the Discover Central Division. Richards believes Savard would be a good fit if he’s available.

Other targets could include Montour, Vatanen, Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, or the Arizona Coyotes’ Alex Goligoski.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no one in the trade market that can replace Ekblad’s role as the Panthers’ top defenseman. If Zito goes shopping it’ll be for a decent depth rearguard capable of playing top-four minutes.

Zito could consider blueliners with term on their contracts such as Ekholm, Ristolainen or DeAngelo but the asking prices for those players could be more expensive than it would be for the UFAs. The Predators asking price for Ekholm is said to be three assets including a first-round pick and a top prospect. I believe Zito will instead look to the rentals.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams was believed discussing something with the St. Louis Blues. He wondered if it might involve Sabres winger Taylor Hall but said he received “pushback” on that notion. Friedman doubts the Sabres can get a first-round pick for Hall unless there’s a bidding war. He also wondered if Casey Mittelstadt could be moved.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Hall is attracting interest in the trade market but his value has declined over the course of this season. Rival GMs will try to get him for a bargain if they can. Adams might have to accept a second-rounder and a prospect.

Friedman believes the Colorado Avalanche could have an interest in David Savard if the Blue Jackets become sellers. He also thinks the Tampa Bay Lightning could be a suitor if they can find a way to fit him under their cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems to me that the Avs should be looking for a reliable backup for starting goalie Philipp Grubauer. As for the Lightning, they don’t have any cap room and expect superstar winger Nikita Kucherov back in the lineup in time for the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if GM Julien Brisebois managed to make an addition before the deadline but it would take considerable salary-cap gymnastics to pull it off.

Friedman doubts Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is done dealing after acquiring Eric Staal from the Sabres last Friday. He thinks Bergevin may have had something going with Artturi Lehkonen to create some salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens need an experienced top-four, left-side defenseman. That should be Bergevin’s target if he can make the dollars fit. Lehkonen has come up in Habs trade chatter in recent weeks. He’s got a $2.4 million cap hit and becomes a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. He could become expendable as the Habs look to promote younger players following this season.

Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening could be on the Edmonton Oilers’ radar. Acquiring him could be challenging if a rival club is willing to part with a higher draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to add to his roster before the deadline but he only has four picks in this year’s draft, with the highest being a fourth-rounder. I doubt he’s keen to part with his 2022 picks.


  1. I would think that Zito has already put calls in to Jarmo and Kevyn re Savard and Montour

    ADA , to me; is too much of a gamble (dressing room, off ice… disruption to team that looks like their chemistry is very strong)

    Zito has all his picks to dangle with.

    Until he trades, I’m guessing that Stralman comes up from the Taxi Squad

    Zito could also call Murray re Manson

    Pengy , as a humble gesture to Zito, would like to charitably offer superstar RHD Chad Ruhweedel , for a 7th in 2038

  2. Too bad about Ekblad. Going to be tough to replace on a shallow D

    Avs only need a backup and definitely not defence.

    Buffalo needs to burn it to the ground. Including handsome Jack. Dahlin should be the only exception.

    • Agreed. Savard to the Avs makes no sense. He’s not really their type of player, and the Avs already lead the league in shots against, even with Johnson and Byram currently out of the lineup.

      If the Avs are scouting Columbus, it’s only to look for a backup for Grubauer. Merzlikins played a couple of strong games against the Avs last year.

      • Avs would be a good trade partner for 1 of the CBJ goalies. My guess is a trade of one of the CBJ goalies is an offseason deal unless a surprisingly significant offer is made at TDL

  3. Holland will overpay period. That’s his track record. When oilers fans are wandering the streets 3 years from now with no cup champ swag and a bloated roster of overpaid misses, just remember Wings fans are grateful to you for taking him off our hands. Maybe he’ll take DeKeyser too!

    • EDM still has their 1st rd pick this year, no?

      • Yes they do Shaye.
        I think Edmonton was/is hoping to sign and bring in Holloway once he finished in Wisconsin. Then he broke his thumb in the 2nd last game. Haven’t heard how bad it is.

        Craig Button was saying he thought he was ready to contribute in the NHL right away. He lit it up in the NCAA, so expect to see him next season at the latest.

  4. What is Lekhonen worth? And to what team? Don’t get me wrong, I respect his work ethic, speed and hockey sense, but in his first couple of seasons I expected him to grow into a 20 plus goal scorer with the opportunities he had. He simply cannot finish unless he gets lucky. With the skill players have today, even a defensive specialist is supposed to bury his chances.

    • Wasn’t he the 2nd leading scorer way back when the Habs last made the playoffs? I wouldn’t trade him. I think he’s a playoff guy. I’d move Armia or Tatar if I had to…

  5. T – 2 for Dubas.


  6. Zito needs a top 4 RD, Savard fits the bill and he knows him well.
    CBJ need a 2C and Florida has good young centres. A trade is probably brewing there.

    Lehkonen is a solid all around forward, plays both wings and is an honest player. His forecheck/backcheck is excellent, doesn’t give the puck away yet regularly takes it away.

    25 y/o RFA with a $2.4 million contract that reflects his all around game, His actual scoring/production is similar to Sam Bennett but just isn’t enough anymore considering the plethora of wings on the team and in the pipeline.

    It will be interesting as he’s the type of player most coaches love to have as a role player,

    • seems like he’s fallen out of favor. smart, very good defensively, but……cannot seem to finish.saw him as a rookie against the panthers in florida and was impressed,but he’s just not connecting the dots.

  7. What will the Habs have to add to get someone else take the forwards they do not want?

    That is the interesting question.

    • OBD: That assumes the Habs are seeking another player.

      Lyle keeps banging the drum about the Habs needing another left hand D. I am not convinced they do. The Habs sit in 4 position with games in hand on everyone. The teams below them are extremely unlikely to pass them.

      As you suggest, getting someone to bite on Byron or Lehkonen will cost them a prospect, so why bother when the additional cost will be losing any impact player they get to Seattle in the expansion draft.

      • LJ,
        I’m a firm believer that Victor Mete is the LD the Habs should be using to partner with Shea Weber.

        Their strengths shield each others weaknesses and they make a strong duo.

        Weber can’t skate the puck out, his most effective first pass is to his partner, he’s strong in front of the net but labors in the corner and behind the net. He’s strong on the defensive zone entry, the O zone pinch and of course his shot.

        Mete skates like a forward, he carries the puck up the ice, his first pass is on the mark up ice, he’s strong in the corners using speed and quick hands to usually get the puck. He has a good stick for defensive zone entry, the O zone pinch and his shot is deflection prayer.

        His speed and hockey IQ shield Weber, and he’s physically protected in return.

        He’s the most underrated player on the team.

        As for Lehkonen, he’s worth his weight in gold for coaches like Trotz, Torts, Sutter and ex Hab Julien. so one never knows.

  8. Sorry guys, replying to yesterdays comments, as i didn’t read until this Am.

    Chrism, no i don’t agree that Bergy must retire a Bruin. Yes he is one of the best bruins of all time, quality and classy guy.

    The fact remains he will be 36yrs old in July with a year remaining his best return could be now. Begry has a nmc; and a 3 team trade list. Sweeney would not move him unless he was willing to be moved.

    BBB, no i don’t think the sky is falling, but i’m a realist and Boston doesn’t have a team to compete with Wahington, TB, Veg, Col yes other teams could eliminate the mentioned teams and i would give Boston a little more boost.

    The Bruins are #1 in the league in goals against giving up 73, they are tied #28 for goals for with 83.

    They will compete defensively, letting Chara and Krug was only wrong because they didn’t trade them last season for assets.

    Boston has 8 games remaining before the trade deadline. NJ 1, Washington 2, Pitts 2 and Philly 3 the 5 games between Pitts and Philly, should tell us if the Bruins should be sellers.

    I say should be, because, Don Sweeney will not be a seller he will be buying, he will give Marchand and Bergeron another crack at the can.

    Regardless of what i post here or believe what should happen, I do not see Sweeney selling, he will buy. I would think he is searching for speed, size and most importantly can produce 5 vs 5

    Defense is Ok but depending on how long Rask is out, this could be a blessing or a curse.

    • I just feel somethings are more important. Personally I think that Mario being a pen and likely Sid as well is as cool to look back on, if not more so, than the championships the pens won. Oh. Bergyboy. Bergy ain’t even in the same conversation as Sid. 😝

  9. is the use of abbreviations some kind of status symbol ? who the hell is ADA ?

    • Anthony DeAngelo

      • ADA+Yandle together on the ice

      • Gostisbehere is available now too….a trifecta!

  10. Sweeney should sell the team is in the worst tailspin I’ve seen in decades, although I’d be worried about all the number picks he’ll get. ( 2015) I think above all else he needs to go first and fast,

    • RWM i guess if your going to call Sweeney out on the 2015 draft, we need to look at it:


      ye there was better players available then the first 3 chosen. I remember wanting Boston to draft Kyle Connor after reading his draft report.

      With that said it looks like Boston will have 3 NHL players from that draft.

      Being able to draft Carlo, Lauzon and Vladar where he did was solid.

      Agree that draft could’ve been a Grand Slam if you substitute Barzal, Connor, and Chabot with the first 3.

      2016 also produced 3 NHL players in McAvoy, Frederic and Lindgren (NYR)

      2017 Vaakanienen, Studnicka and Swayman

      If we can move on from Sweeney first 3 picks, he has some hits and some misses.

      • caper,

        Fairweather fans concentrate on the misses and forget the hits.

        Hab fan sites are riddled with folks complaining about Bergevin’s drafting despite the strong prospect pool.

        An example I have given before, Sam Pollock, arguably one of the best GMs in NHL history. missed a player in our backyard, Mike Bossy and chose Mark Napier.

        GM’s need to be judged on their body of work.

      • Let’s not forget that’s not as cut and dry as simply saying the team should have taken player x over player y. There is no guarantee that player x develops the same in a different system.

      • It was Sweeney’s first draft wasn’t it?
        He made good deals prior moving Lucic and then Jones to get those picks.
        I am guessing he relied on his scouting director, Mr. Gretzky since it was his first draft. Which seems like the natural thing to do. It’s why you have an amateur scouting department.

        But ya, if they simply go with the consensus rankings they would have been farther ahead with only Zboril drafted where he was projected to go.

      • Yeah okay Cappy, now why don’t we look at the talented players that were passed over. Any one those stars considerably better than what incompetent Sweeney landed Matt Barzal #16 Kyle Connor 17 Brock B , Travis Konecny

      • LOL Rick, i did list the players he passed over or 3 of them.

        Rick to be quite honest i still don’t think Zboril will be a bust. I believe he will develop into a strong Dman. He is an excellent passer.
        One of concern of Sweeney is his like for the local boys and not drafting from the CHL taking some swings out of the zone.

  11. my bad trades of the day

    Studn+Debrusk+1st for Laine+Foligno

    Ristolainen for Juulsen +?
    Kerfoot++ for Elvis +Savard

    • I don’t even think the Xbox will let those trades fly.

    • I’ll take Worst Trade Ideas for 500, Alex.

      Just one more: Lucic for Eichel (Buffalo retains salary)


      • Let’s make it a true daily double.

  12. Yikes

  13. Doughty for Vorachek & Gus 2 1sts 21,22

    • the Flyers need Shane Falco!!!

  14. Well Devils and Palms have broken off contract negotiations. I hope Fitz finds a good contender for him (he did for Coleman last year) and hope NJ gets a decent return.

    • I agree. Hopefully not just draft picks, but a roster player(s) w/ a lil size/grit. We have plenty of petite skill guys. No was!

  15. Meanwhile, TB does not pursue any defenseman (with or without cap gymnastics) unless he is a pending UFA. As it stands, they are likely to lose a defenseman they would rather keep in the expansion draft, even if they go the eight skater route. If the Lightning went after Savard, Seattle probably wouldn’t take him as a UFA. So, that would be their best bet. But, to do that Columbus would have to take Tyler Johnson and a first round draft pick with TB retaining $2 million of Johnson’s salary. That’s the closest to a win win I can think of and I’m not so sure that’s a good deal for either team

    • ShaneinTpa,

      That’s a workable deal.

      • Despite the CBJ’s desperate need for C, I would be very surprised they would take on Johnson’s $ and term even w/ that retention. Their cap space is a significant asset and they will need it to sign Jones, Laine, Texier, etc in the offseason. I believe any deadline deals for the CBJ UFAs will likely center on picks and prospects w/ hockey deals involving roster players waiting until the offseason.

      • Deacon, what do you think they settle on with a AAV for Laine?
        Flat cap, tough start in CLB.
        Wonder what would happen if he went to arbitration?

      • DF,

        David Savard will cost more or aout the same for CBJ to resign than Tyler Johnson, their cap hit is about the same now.

        They will have to trade Savard for draft picks only to get cap relief or lose him for nothing as UFA.

        It’s a tough decision and Jarmo might refuse but they’d get a significant centre and alate 1st round pick but surely he’d consider it.

  16. Flyers waived Shayne Gostisbehere. Believe he will clear waivers. Looking to shed $4.5 million cap hit this year and next. Let the tradng festivities begin in Flyerville.
    About a month overdue IMHO.

    • Send Ghost to CMB for Savard & DelZotto

    • Ray CBJ have some big # contracts coming this offseason. The numbers being thrown out around here are >$9million AAV long-term for Jones. Originally the same estimate for Laine on mid-term deal but now there is some buzz it may be a 1 year deal which could shift the dynamics of that substantively

    • HF30, I agree. It has been apparent this season they have no intentions of re-signing Savard (for right or wrong, he will get a better offer as a UFA than what they are willing to offer). Not hating on Johnson at all with my comment, but from what I’m hearing, I would be very surprised if CBJ take on any salary in TDL deals. I’m not sure doing so to elevate trade value to a low 1st Rd pick (while valuable) deters their significant appetite to keep cap space. This offseason is huge for CBJ in their UFA and RFA signings and that space is likely more valuable than taking on Johnson.

  17. Gostisbehere came out of no where and will go silently in the night. MTL would have certainly kicked a tire. At 40%-50% held he is maybe a depth player on a long run.

  18. Cappy That 2015 Draft Was A crapshoot after they failed to land the player they wanted to land noel hanifin you know the story by now they wanted to trade up and it didn’t work Cappy that 2015 draft everything went dark after that it was like every man for himself they didn’t have an effective secondary choice so they laid out the spread sheet and basically eeny , meeny miny moed the rest of the draft. It went badly. I’ve seen a fair amount of gm’s fired for a lot less than that. It was major major blunder. Sweeney has a bad habit of waiting till the last minute to make trades as well he always does this and a result of waiting you end up with clunks like Jimmy Hayes Backes etc. He just doesn’t seem to have the right stuff to make the big deal or at times he make a decent one.

    • Rick I often said i wish it wasn’t Sweeney at the 2015 draft simply because it was his first draft.

      As Ray Bark mentioned above Gretzky was the head of the scouting department and maybe it was his influence on them decisions .

      Would it have been different it was PC at the draft, that a question we don’t know the answer to.

  19. Deacon it will be interesting to watch the Jackets and Tampa Bay for the next couple of games against each other certainly given my trade proposal and your reply to it.

    People tend to unfairly dish on Johnson suggesting his game is less than what it was. Where that may be partially true, I know that it is more accurate to say the Lightning’s need for him has declined more than the players talent or abilities. He is still a half point per game player on a third line with a carousel of linemates while getting only about 13 minutes a night. As a 2C it’s hard to imagine he would be less than that with Columbus and equally hard to picture them having a better option at $3 million along with a 1R for Savard

    • Shane, I agree. It has been apparent this season CBJ have no intentions of re-signing Savard (for right or wrong, he will get a better offer as a UFA than what they are willing to offer). Not hating on Johnson at all with my comment, but from what I’m hearing, I would be very surprised if CBJ take on any salary in TDL deals. I’m not sure doing so to elevate trade value to a low 1st Rd pick (while valuable) deters their significant appetite to keep cap space. This offseason is huge for CBJ in their UFA and RFA signings and that space is likely more valuable than taking on Johnson.

  20. habsfan30

    My father in law (75) is a die hard Canadiens fan having grown up in Montreal during their hey day…

    Mine Bossy was my favourite player growing up.

    He told me a story about the Canadiens and Bossy…Rocket Richard was doing a bit of scouting for the Habs at the time. He went to management and said “you have to draft this Bossy kid…I haven’t seen anyone shoot like that since I played” Unfortunately…you know the rest of the story.

    Bossy was drafted by Bill Torrey and the Islanders. Bossy walked right up to Torrey and said “I’m going to score 50 goals for you next year”

  21. James Reimer
    We forgive you
    U can COME back !!’