NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2022
Check out the latest on the Rangers and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Possible top-six trade targets could include San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski, Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux, Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell, Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk and Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The availability of Hertl, Pavelski and Rakell could depend upon where their respective clubs are in the NHL standings approaching the March 21 trade deadline. Giroux has a full no-movement clause and it’s uncertain what he intends to do as the Flyers continue to struggle.
DeBrusk requested a trade in late November but there haven’t been any takers yet. Smith could be shopped by the Golden Knights as a cost-cutting measure to make room for Jack Eichel’s debut next month.
To boost the third line, Staple suggested Montreal Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen, though he noted the latter has had preliminary contract talks with the Habs. Other options included Ottawa Senators center Chris Tierney, Arizona Coyotes forward Travis Boyd, and Seattle Kraken forward Calle Jarnkrok or former Ranger Colin Blackwell.
Turning to defensemen, Staple believes the asking price for Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun and Montreal’s Ben Chiarot could be too expensive. Seattle’s Mark Giordano won’t be as expensive but still won’t be a cheap rental. Nevertheless, he could fill a need for the Rangers. Other options include Seattle’s Carson Soucy, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Calvin de Haan, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun, the Buffalo Sabres’ Colin Miller or Detroit Red Wings’ (and former Rangers) Marc Staal or Nick Holden.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Staple isn’t saying the Rangers are pursuing the aforementioned players or have them on any potential wish list. Nevertheless, they have the cap space and depth in prospects and promising young players to make competitive bids for one or two of them.
Smith is most often mentioned as a possible rental target given he previously played for Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant when the latter was the Golden Knights’ bench boss. It wouldn’t be surprising if he joins the Blueshirts sometime next month.
SPORTSNET/TSN: Eric Engels reports the Montreal Canadiens search for a new general manager could be resolved in the coming days. He’s heard Daniel Briere and Mathieu Darche are among the three finalists for the job.
Meanwhile, Pierre LeBrun reports the Canadiens are believed to have circled back to player agent Kent Hughes this week after he wasn’t part of their initial interviews. He includes Hughes among the top 3-4 candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lovers of chaos will be disappointed Patrick Roy doesn’t appear to be among the final candidates, though he was among those initially interviewed for the position. The bottom line is the best candidate will be the one who can work best with hockey ops executive VP Jeff Gorton. I’m leaning toward Darche given his experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning but Hughes could also be a good fit given his experience as an agent.
TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault took note of John Klingberg no longer being in the good graces of Dallas Stars management in his contract year. He suggested the Canadiens offer up Jeff Petry for Klingberg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg is four years younger than the 34-year-old Petry, who has three more years left on his contract worth an annual cap hit of $6.25 million. Solely on that basis, Stars GM Jim Nill will never make that trade.