NHL Rumor Mill – February 21, 2022
Will the Lightning or Wild make moves at the trade deadline? Which Sharks could become trade candidates? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL LIGHTNING OR WILD BECOME TRADE DEADLINE BUYERS?
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith recently examined whether the Tampa Bay Lightning will make any moves by the March 21 trade deadline. General manager Julien BriseBois indicated nothing was off the table if a move could be made to improve their chances of winning the Stanley Cup for the third straight year.
Complicating things, however, is the fact that the Lightning has no cap space for this season and very little for next season. Making additions would mean subtracting someone from their roster and they’ve already got some very good value contracts. They also like the additions they made last summer in Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Corey Perry and Zach Bogosian.
If BriseBois makes a move, Smith believes it’ll be for depth players along the lines of his acquisitions of Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow two years ago. He thinks the Bolts GM would part with multiple high picks if it means landing an impact player, especially one who could become a replacement for pending unrestricted free agent winger Ondrej Palat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois could be a buyer if one or more of his players carrying a significant cap hit winds up on long-term injury reserve for the remainder of the regular season. While that worked to their advantage last season when Nikita Kucherov missed the entire 2020-21 regular season recovering from hip surgery, they might not get a similar opportunity again. If he makes an addition, it’ll be an affordable depth player. The Lightning still has a very talented roster that could make a run for a third Cup.
Pierre LeBrun last week reported Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is remaining patient and examining his options as the trade deadline approaches. He’d prefer to retain his draft picks because he’s still building up the club’s prospect pipeline. His club’s lofty position in the Western Conference standings also allows him to take time to evaluate his roster’s needs.
Guerin downplayed the notion his club needs depth at center. He’s also reluctant to tinker too much with the Wild’s tight team chemistry. It’s possible he trades for a depth forward than a high-end piece like Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, Dallas’ Joe Pavelski or San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d still keep an eye on the Wild, especially if they start to wobble over the next few weeks. Still, there won’t be much reason to make a big addition if they continue playing well leading up to March 21.
LATEST ON THE SHARKS
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng examines which San Jose Sharks players could become trade candidates (besides Tomas Hertl) if the club becomes a seller by the March trade deadline. They could include Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino, James Reimer, Matt Nieto and Alexander Barabanov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peng spoke with two NHL scouts and a league executive about the possible returns for those players. It appears they would fetch third-to-fifth-round picks. Bonino, Nieto and Reimer each have a year remaining on their contracts.