NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2021
NOTE: The NHL’s holiday roster freeze begins at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, Dec. 19 and lifts at 12:01 am EST on Tuesday, Dec. 28.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Scott Powers said it’s too early to tell if goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be interested in returning with the Chicago Blackhawks after this season. The club’s performance over the rest of the season will be a determining factor. He also indicated there haven’t been any contract talks with Fleury’s backup Kevin Lankinen.
Powers expects Blackhawks interim general manager Kyle Davidson won’t have any restrictions if the club becomes a seller by the March 21 trade deadline. Fleury, Calvin de Haan, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik could become trade candidates.
Based on his play, Fleury would be their best trade chip but his 10-team no-trade clause could affect what they get in return. Powers suggests it could be a second- or a third-round pick depending on the team and whether they re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury’s value could be higher than that if he maintains his current level of play. Never underestimate the willingness of NHL general managers to succumb to auction fever leading up to the trade deadline.
It’ll be interesting to see how his situation shakes out over the remainder of this season. The 37-year-old netminder is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and carries a $7 million annual average value on his current deal.
It’s hard to imagine Fleury sticking with the Blackhawks if they’re still in rebuild mode. He could want one more shot at winning a Stanley Cup and he won’t get that opportunity in Chicago.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox is curious over why Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun has surfaced in recent trade speculation. The club is reportedly gauging interest in the 23-year-old big-minute blueliner who also carries a cap-friendly $4.6 million annual average value through 2024-25.
With the rental market thin on top-four defensemen, Fox believes Chychrun would jump to the top of the trade class. Nevertheless, he’s puzzled that the Coyotes aren’t trying to build around the blueliner. He wondered if it’s because of concern over his injury history or unhappiness with his play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong envisions Chychrun will depart via free agency by the time the club is ready to emerge from their rebuild and wants to move him while his value remains high. Maybe Armstrong’s received some calls and he’s seeing if there’s a club willing to pay what is reportedly said to be a massive asking price. Whatever the reason, Chychrun’s name will likely remain a fixture in the rumor mill for the remainder of the season.