NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2022
ROUNDUP OF RECENT CANADIENS SPECULATION
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Earlier this week, Pat Hickey reported the Canadiens defense corps is in line for a major overhaul. No one expects sidelined captain Shea Weber to play again, the club is getting offers for pending UFA Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry could be moved if the right deal can be found while pending UFA Brett Kulak could also be shopped at the March 21 trade deadline.
On Wednesday, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun told TSN690 (stick tap to NHL Watcher) the Canadiens have a list of players they wish to move and a list of those they want to keep. He believes Brendan Gallagher and Josh Anderson are on the “do not move” list because a team needs competitive players even when undergoing a rebuild. Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Drouin, Christian Dvorak and Artturi Lehkonen are on the “would like to move” list but that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be traded.
LeBrun also believes the Canadiens covet some of the New York Rangers prospects while the Habs have some players to fill the Rangers’ needs. With 12 picks already in this year’s draft, the Canadiens could prefer returns of prospects over draft picks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton was the Rangers general manager until last May. Most of their current prospects were chosen by him so it’s not surprising he wouldn’t mind landing one or two of them. Whether or not he’ll be successful and which ones he might get remains to be seen.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens notes recent reports linking the Toronto Maple Leafs to Chiarot. However, his near-league-worst overlying numbers plus the Canadiens asking price of a first-round pick should send the Leafs looking elsewhere to bolster their blueline. Stephens suggested the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson, Philadelphia Flyers’ Justin Braun and Winnipeg Jets’ Dylan DeMelo could be better options.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cites a report by RDS claiming the Canadiens reached out to the Capitals regarding goaltender Ilya Samsonov. The 24-year-old Samsonov has struggled at times with consistency but has played better of late. The Capitals are believed in the market to upgrade their goaltending and their forward lines as well. They’ve been linked to the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are expected to be among the prime sellers leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. UFAs such as Chiarot and Kulak are the most likely to go as they’ll be the easiest to move. The same goes for Lehkonen, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and a year away from UFA eligibility. Struggling players with term on their contracts (Petry, Hoffman, Drouin, Dvorak) could be tougher to ship out during the season.
The Habs’ interest in Samsonov could be a desire to bring in a younger NHL goalie who has the potential to perhaps take over for Carey Price if he’s traded or ends up on permanent LTIR. I think the Capitals prefer hanging onto Samsonov given his youth and potential.
LATEST ON J.T. MILLER
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday the Vancouver Canucks might not be in any hurry to move J.T. Miller, who’s signed through 2022-23. Canucks management doesn’t buy into the notion that the 28-year-old center’s trade value would be higher now than in the offseason. They could also sign him to a contract extension this summer so all options are all the table. Clubs interested in Miller, such as the New York Rangers, must step up if they hope to pry him away from the Canucks.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty believes the return the Montreal Canadiens received for Tyler Toffoli from the Calgary Flames (2022 first-round pick, 2024 fifth-rounder, bottom-six forward Tyler Pitlick and prospect forward Emil Heineman) sets the market price for Miller. He believes it would cost the Bruins a first-rounder, an additional pick, winger Jake DeBrusk and Jack Studnicka to land the Canucks forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All due respect to Haggs but I think it’ll take more than what the Canadiens got for Toffoli to land Miller, specifically the type of NHL player and prospect. I also doubt his suggested return would bring the Canucks center to the Bruins, especially considering the Rangers have the cap space and the depth in prospects and young players to outbid them.
Yes, the Canucks could trade Miller by the March 21 trade deadline if a club makes an impressive bid. However, that might not be out there during this season. While there are exceptions, the overwhelming majority of deadline moves tend to involve pending free agents on non-playoff clubs shipped to contenders as rentals.
UPDATE ON ALEXANDAR GEORGIEV
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev’s career has stalled as Igor Shesterkin took over as their full-time starter. The 26-year-old struggled last season and got off to a poor start to this one, though he played well filling in for Shesterkin when he was sidelined by a groin injury in December.
Since then, Georgiev’s numbers have declined, prompting Brooks to suggest any of his upcoming starts could be his last with the Rangers. With Georgiev a restricted free agent this summer who could become unrestricted if the Blueshirts don’t qualify his rights, the upcoming trade deadline could be their last chance to get something in return.
Moving Georgiev would mean finding a suitable backup. Brooks suggested Detroit’s Thomas Greiss or Vancouver’s Jaroslav Halak, though the latter is on injured reserve.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting Georgiev could be an option for the Golden Knights if starter Robin Lehner remains sidelined by a suspected shoulder injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out the possibility of Georgiev getting traded provided the Rangers ensure they have a suitable replacement in hand in case Shesterkin gets injured again. Greiss could be a better option than Halak, who has a no-movement clause while Greiss lacks no-trade protection. Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo could also be an option. If Rangers GM Chris Drury doesn’t believe they’ll do a better job, he’ll hang onto Georgiev.