NHL Rumor Mill – February 26, 2022
Check out the latest on the Rangers, Coyotes, Blackhawks and Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reported a league source said the New York Rangers contacted the Nashville Predators about Filip Forsberg. Sources say the Predators still hope to sign the 27-year-old winger to a contract extension before the March 21 trade deadline. Staple considers Forsberg a high-cost rental who would also be expensive to re-sign.
Staple also recently examined several potential trade targets for the Rangers. Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell and Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp appear the more realistic. He also considered defenseman Andy Greene an intriguing option if New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello waves the white flag on the season.
Staple cites sources saying the Rangers might not be as enamored of Vancouver Canucks forwards Brock Boeser and Conor Garland as they are of former Blueshirt J.T. Miller. Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel has been available for weeks but could be a last resort before the deadline if the Rangers still seek a top-six right winger by that point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Curious the Rangers would look into Forsberg when they’re already deep on the left side. It doesn’t hurt to conduct due diligence. Landing someone like Rakell or Copp seems more realistic if their respective teams fall further out of playoff contention over the next couple of weeks.
The Canucks don’t seem keen on moving Miller but that could change if someone made a substantial pitch. He’d be a good fit with the Rangers because he can play right wing or center, the latter being important for the Blueshirts if they fail to sign pending free-agent center Ryan Strome.
Morgan said the Coyotes have yet to receive an offer for the 23-year-old defenseman that would improve their roster. He reminds us the Coyotes aren’t looking to move Chychrun and don’t have to move him considering he’s under contract through 2024-25 with an affordable $4.6 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong confirmed other clubs have expressed interest in Chychrun. He said he had to do his job and listen to offers. “But at this point in time, he’s a Coyote and we love him being a Coyote, and I guess that’s all I can say on that,” he said.
In other words, he’s willing to entertain offers but it’ll take a big offer to tempt him into parting with the young blueliner.
Morgan also said the Coyotes’ asking price for Phil Kessel is a second-round pick but that offer hasn’t materialized. They might have to settle for a third-rounder for the pending UFA winger.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus consider goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forwards Dominik Kubalik and Ryan Carpenter among their proposed trade chips for the Chicago Blackhawks. Defensemen Calvin de Haan and Erik Gustafsson were also in that group.
Winger Brandon Hagel has come up in trade rumors thanks to his solid play and affordable contract. However, they consider him among their long shots to be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hagel isn’t untouchable and I’m sure Blackhawks interim GM Kyle Davidson is keeping his options open. Nevertheless, all reports out of Chicago indicate he’s either not going anywhere or it could take a lucrative trade offer to tempt the Blackhawks into moving him.
I believe the Blackhawks will retain Hagel. He’s 23, carries a $1.5 million annual cap hit through 2023-24 and could be a core part of their rebuild/retool going forward.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan weighed in on the Maple Leafs placing defenseman Jake Muzzin on long-term injury reserve and how that could help them bolster their roster leading up to the trade deadline. While the move would allow the Leafs to exceed the salary cap by the equivalent of Muzzin’s $5.625 million cap hit, they must be certain he won’t be back for the remainder of the regular season.
If the Leafs use the LTIR savings to add a player or two and Muzzin returns before the end of the regular season, they’ll have to shed salary to ensure they’re cap compliant.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I know I’ve touched on this earlier this week but I feel it’s worth repeating. With Muzzin sidelined by another suspected concussion, there’s no timeline for determining when he’ll be able to return to the lineup. It could be three days, three weeks or three months.
Trying to shed salary after the trade deadline isn’t impossible but it’s very difficult to do. They must ensure they’re not handcuffing themselves cap-wise between March 21 and the end of the regular season on April 29.