Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 2, 2022
In the first Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup of 2022: a prediction that Patrik Laine will be traded again, a potentially complicated trade deadline lies ahead, and the Panthers could covet Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot.
COULD LAINE BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN?
SPORTSNET: In his recent three bold NHL predictions for 2022, Luke Fox speculated the Columbus Blue Jackets could trade Patrik Laine at some point this year. The 23-year-old winger got off to a hot start to this season but was sidelined by an oblique muscle injury and the tragic death of his father
Laine will be completing his one-year, $7.5 million contract, becoming a restricted free agent with salary arbitration this summer. Fox doubted he’ll commit to a long-term deal with a club that’s been sheddings assets for draft picks and prospects and are still a long way from contention. He believes Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen won’t run the risk of Laine inking another one-year deal and departing in 2023 as an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Jackets decide to trade Laine that move likely happens in the offseason, probably around the NHL draft weekend. While the Finnish sniper has had a couple of difficult seasons largely due to injuries, he remains a legitimate scoring threat who should return to his high-scoring ways when healthy.
The cost of Laine’s next contract and his injury history will affect his trade value. Nevertheless, teams will still line up to make bids if the Jackets signal their intent to move him. They could still get a decent return for Laine.
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek believes the number of teams with interim general managers or those still seeking GMs will have an effect upon this year’s trade deadline (March 21). The Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks fall into that category. Meanwhile, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is on medical leave.
Interim general managers like those in Chicago and Anaheim don’t have established trading records. It’s difficult to know if they’ll be aggressive in the trade market or take a more conservative approach.
Other factors also come into play. The Ducks are playing better than expected and might not be sellers by the deadline. Jim Rutherford, the Canucks new president of hockey operations, isn’t afraid to make deals but he could wait to see if the club’s improvement under head coach Bruce Boudreau is for real.
Jeff Gorton, the Montreal Canadiens new executive VP of hockey operations, also has an established trade record. However, he’s still trying to figure out his team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek also observed none of the potential sellers appear to be in any rush to make deals right now. That will likely change as the deadline nears.
The Canucks and Ducks won’t be sellers if they’re in the thick of the playoff hunt by March 21. Indeed, they could become buyers to provide a little more depth to their lineups for the postseason.
The Blackhawks and Canadiens will attempt to shed the pending UFAs they can’t or won’t re-sign this summer. The latter should have a new GM in place by then but they’ll be working in tandem with Gorton.
As for the Sharks, Duhatschek observed they have a significant potential trade chip in Tomas Hertl. Should they decide to move him, assistant GM Joe Will will likely be in contact with Wilson before pulling the trigger on a deal.
THE PANTHERS MAY BE INTERESTED IN CHIAROT.
RDS: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers have held internal discussions regarding the possibility of acquiring Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens. The 30-year-old defenseman is drawing plenty of interest among playoff contenders. LeBrun believes the Panthers will make a pitch but they won’t be the only ones.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Media consensus suggests Chiarot could fetch a first-round draft pick for the Canadiens. The Panthers, however, traded their 2022 first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Sam Reinhart deal.
The Panthers could offer up their 2023 pick or perhaps package a couple of prospects for Chiarot. Their limited cap space will also make it difficult to absorb his $3.5 million cap hit but they could add a sweetener to convince the Habs to pick up part of his salary or perhaps get creative with a three-team deal to spread his cap hit around.