NHL Rumor Mill – December 6, 2021
A look at several potential trade targets in today’s NHL rumor mill.
DAILY FACEOFF: Columbus Blue Jackets backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko topped Frank Seravalli’s list of 15 trade targets that are in play or will be in the months leading up to the March 21 trade deadline.
Korpisalo could welcome an opportunity to play elsewhere. Teams have contacted the Jackets about him within the last couple of weeks. DeBrusk made a trade request over a week ago but his attention to detail and effort level had his trade value seemingly at an all-time low. Tarasenko still hopes the Blues will honor the trade request he made this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Korpisalo is an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Jackets could try to move him now that Elvis Merzlikins is their starter and Danill Tarasov showing promise as his potential backup.
As many as a dozen teams were reportedly interested in DeBrusk. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Bruins won’t move him until they find a defenseman or forward of equal value in return. Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2022-23 ($9.5 million in actual salary this season) will likely ensure he remains in St. Louis this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl is fourth on Seravalli’s list as the Leafs will need to shed some salary when sidelined goalie Petr Mrazek is ready to return to the lineup. New York Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov is fifth on the list. Seravalli observed the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens were among the interested parties. With former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton now in control with the Canadiens, he wondered if Gorton might make a pitch for Kravtsov, who he drafted in 2018.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holl’s been on the trade block for over a month but the Leafs didn’t seem in a rush to move him. Perhaps we’ll see some movement here once Mrazek is ready to return. Kravtsov is currently on load to KHL club Chelyabinsk and cannot return to the NHL until the KHL season is over. Interested clubs can still acquire his rights.
Florida Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist, Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller, Chicago Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome, Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust check in at numbers six through 10 on Seravalli’s list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hornqvist has slipped down to the Panthers’ fourth line but I think they’ll still want his experience and gritty style for the playoffs. With the Canucks firing general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green, I don’t think they’re going to make any sweeping roster changes for the time being.
Strome’s been on the trade block for some time but there hasn’t been much interest in the 24-year-old forward. I agree with Seravalli that Smith seems the most likely to become a cost-cutting trade candidate when Jack Eichel is ready to join the Golden Knights in February. I also concur with his take that the Penguins could shop a pending UFA like Rust if they’re out of playoff contention by the trade deadline.
Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell, San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, Chicago Blackhawks forward Henrik Borgstrom and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane fill spots 11 through 15.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is the only one in this group that seems certain to be dealt before the trade deadline. He’s keen to move on to a playoff contender to earn himself a new contract after this season and the Coyotes are said to be trying to find a new home for him. Given Kessel’s $6.8 million cap hit, interested clubs could wait until closer to the trade deadline.
Rakell is also a pending UFA but there’s less certainty he’ll be traded given the Ducks’ improvement this season and their recent management change. Hertl is willing to talk contract with Sharks management. As Seravalli pointed out, they’ve got an aging, expensive core and Hertl is in line for a significant raise on his next deal. This could go either way.
Borgstrom was a promising young forward who didn’t reach expectations with the Florida Panthers and is seeing third-line minutes with the Blackhawks. There might not be many takers if he’s available.
Kane is now with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate after serving a 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. His other off-ice troubles have also been well-documented. The Sharks are trying to trade him and there were rumors of an Eastern Conference club having an interest in him. His $7 million annual cap hit, however, could also make moving him a difficult task.