NHL Rumor Mill – February 3, 2022
Will the Canucks trade J.T. Miller or Conor Garland? What’s the latest Canadiens and Jets speculation? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE LATEST ON MILLER AND GARLAND
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes whether to trade or keep J.T. Miller is the biggest question facing the Vancouver Canucks’ new management. The 28-year-old forward is their leading scorer and is signed through 2022-23 with a palatable $5.25 million salary-cap hit. If he’s extended, it could be a long-term deal worth over $7 million per season.
The versatile Miller is also drawing plenty of interest in the NHL trade market. He could be the first chip to play in a retool, rebuild or refresh of the roster. The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are believed among the clubs linked to Miller.
Canucks president Jim Rutherford wants those trade offers early because his trade leverage could diminish if his club falters over the next month. Kuzma believes Rutherford could get a first-round pick, prime prospect and a center for Miller right now.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL pro scout telling him the Canucks love the Bruins’ top prospect Fabian Lysell. He believes that’s what it could take for them to acquire Conor Garland from Vancouver. The Bruins had an interest in Garland last summer before he was shipped to the Canucks by the Arizona Coyotes.
Murphy also noted the rumors tying the Bruins to Miller. He believes Lysell would also have to be part of the return for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford and his management staff aren’t under pressure to move Miller or Garland before the trade deadline. With both players under contract for next season, they have the luxury of waiting until the offseason if they don’t receive any suitable offers by deadline day.
However, they’ll seriously listen if the Bruins pitch Lysell as part of an offer for Miller or Garland. The Bruins prospect is enjoying a solid rookie season with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, leading them with 13 goals in 26 games and is tied for their points lead with 32.
UPDATES ON THE CANADIENS
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski wonders if Jeff Petry might be a good fit with the Penguins. He notes the 34-year-old Canadiens defenseman wants out of Montreal and is in the first year of a four-year contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million.
Colleague Jimmy Murphy reports the Canadiens’ asking price is a second-round pick and a top prospect. Kingerski suggests Petry could help improve the right side of the Penguins’ blueline as well as provide insurance in case Kris Letang departs this summer as a free agent. He proposed offering up their second-rounder and young defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens might listen to that offer, especially if they don’t have to retain salary or toss in a sweetener to get it done. Joseph, 22, was a fine puck-moving defenseman during his junior days with the Charlottetown Islanders and still has the potential to become a top-four NHL blueliner.
Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins will have $4 million in deadline cap space, enough to take on Petry’s remaining cap hit for this season. That’s assuming the Penguins aren’t on his no-trade list and they can fit Petry and Letang on their roster for next season, especially as they’ve also got Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust to re-sign or replace.
Of course, this is mere spitballing by Kingerski and myself. The Penguins could be considering different options leading up to the March 21 trade deadline while the Canadiens could get better offers from another NHL club.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli speculated winger Artturi Lehkonen could fetch a first-round pick if he and the Canadiens part ways. He said there are teams that view him as this year’s version of Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow, who helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE JETS?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes changes are coming for the struggling Winnipeg Jets as they’ve failed to improve since Paul Maurice stepped down as head coach in December. Their defense has failed to make up for an offense that’s gone dry while goaltender Connor Hellebucyk isn’t his usual dominant self this season.
Proteau wonders if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is the right person to be making the decisions that could bring about change. They’ve got over $71 million invested in 12 players for next season with Paul Stastny and Andrew Copp due to become unrestricted free agents while Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kristian Vesalainen are among their slew of restricted free agents.
The Jets have some talented players to hang onto. However, they need to determine what parts of their core they should consider shopping in the trade market.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre observed Jets center Mark Scheifele hasn’t been the same since getting suspended from last year’s playoffs for running Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans. He’s been a shell of himself this season, appearing disengaged and disinterested. Pierre-Luc Dubois has outplayed him this season and will get a significant raise this summer.
McIntyre wondered if a change of scenery might be in the best interest of Scheifele and the Jets. He’s two years away from becoming an unrestricted free agent and could still fetch a handsome return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Scheifele would certainly shake up the Jets roster and he would bring in a significant return. However, The Athletic’s Murat Ates doesn’t believe they should trade him simply because of one sub-par season.
Cheveldayoff could share Ates’ opinion about Scheifele. Nevertheless, he’ll have to do something in the offseason. He doesn’t have to blow up the roster but changes are needed for a club that’s been slowly declining since reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2018.