Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 28, 2021
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes there’s a lot of teams checking in with the Buffalo Sabres regarding Taylor Hall. He wonders if the St. Louis Blues might be a fit if they can find suitable salary-cap space. The Blues are having trouble scoring of late.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $5.4 million in LTIR salary available. However, they’ll lose that buffer when Colton Parayko and Ivan Barbashev come off LTIR later in the season. It’ll have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap for Hall. Even then, the Sabres will probably have to pick up half of his $8 million cap hit.
Friedman also reports Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said sideline goaltender Frederik Andersen is undergoing some different evaluations. He said the Leafs don’t feel Andersen’s season is in jeopardy and they’re not actively looking for a goalie. They don’t have much salary-cap room and don’t want to add a netminder unless they absolutely have to.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless Andersen’s season is over so they can put him on LTIR they cannot afford to pursue a goaltender.
UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS
TSN: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he’s not trying to free up salary-cap space to make more moves before the April 12 trade deadline. However, he didn’t rule it out. “Anything’s possible,” said Bergevin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes Bergevin isn’t done dealing because of his depth in draft picks and a prospect pool that won’t suffer much damage if one or two were used as trade bait. He also believes the Habs GM could move a marginal player to free up cap space.
The Canadiens are in a good position to make another trade akin to their Friday acquisition of Eric Staal. The question, however, is whether Staal and whoever else Bergevin might bring in will ensure a playoff berth and a chance at a deep postseason run.
LATEST ON PEARSON AND HAMONIC
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports contract talks haven’t taken place yet between Vancouver Canucks management and Tanner Pearson. The 28-year-old winger is a pending unrestricted free agent. He’s sidelined with a lower-body injury but could return to action before the trade deadline. Johnston believes he could become a trade candidate if the two sides don’t get a deal done before the deadline.
Speaking of the Canucks, Friedman believes the Carolina Hurricanes had an interest in Travis Hamonic. Like Pearson, the 30-year-old Hamonic is eligible for UFA status this summer. The Hurricanes are interested in acquiring a right-hand shot defenseman. However, Hamonic prefers to remain in Western Canada and isn’t waiving his no-trade clause.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston included Pearson among his five potential Canucks trade candidates. The others include winger Jake Virtanen, defenseman Alex Edler, center Brandon Sutter and blueliner Jordie Benn.
Sutter is already of interest to the Edmonton Oilers. Edler could draw some interest if he can be convinced to waive his no-movement clause.
Johnston believes the Canucks should attempt to stockpile draft picks with their tradeable assets to put toward future acquisitions. He recommends targeting teams in the offseason who risk losing players in the expansion draft, suggesting a defenseman like Devon Toews could be left exposed by the Colorado Avalanche. The Carolina Hurricanes could be another option given their depth in blueliners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks should be sellers by the deadline and look at coming back stronger next season. Peddle as many of those pending UFAs as possible and see if you can find a taker for Virtanen and the final year of his contract (with that $3.4 million in actual salary).
As Johnston suggests, follow the Canadiens example and stockpile draft picks that can be used in the offseason to pry away quality players (preferably defensemen) from cap-strapped clubs or teams that risk losing a good player in the expansion draft.
Edler might not be interested in waiving his no-movement clause. If Hamonic’s not waiving his no-trade that means he’s not heading to the Winnipeg Jets as some have suggested. Then again, maybe the Jets haven’t expressed an interest in the Manitoba native.
COULD THE CAPITALS SHOP FOR A GOALIE?
THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir suggested Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier and San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk among his shortlist of potential goaltending trade targets for the Washington Capitals. Calgary’s David Rittich and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne are the other two, though he considers it unlikely Rinne will waive his no-movement clause to leave the Predators.
El-Bashir acknowledged the Capitals’ limited salary-cap space would make pursuing a rental goalie difficult for general manager Brian MacLellan. Further complicating things is the recent improvement of young goalies Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Bean suggests Samsonov’s recent play is taking some pressure off MacLellan to bring in an experienced rental goaltender. Given their salary-cap situation, the Capitals GM could be content to stand pat by the deadline.