NHL Rumor Mill – February 9, 2022
Latest speculation over Golden Knights trade candidates as Jack Eichel’s debut gets closer, more talk of the Avalanche as a destination for Claude Giroux, plus updates on the Flames, Canucks and Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports a source suggesting Jack Eichel could make his debut with the Vegas Golden Knights within the next couple of weeks. The 25-year-old center has been recovering from neck surgery since his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres in November. He believes they’ll have to make a trade or two to clear sufficient salary-cap space when Eichel comes off long-term injury reserve.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Danny Webster lists forwards Reilly Smith and Evgenii Dadonov and goaltender Laurent Brossoit as possible trade candidates. If defenseman Alec Martinez remains on LTIR they would have to move $4.3 million in cap space. Smith and Dadonov each carry annual cap hits of $5 million. Moving one of them could do the trick.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps cites Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussing possible Vegas trade options. Friedman suggested Smith and Mattias Janmark while Marek proposed William Karlsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not the first time we’ve heard Smith, Dadonov or Brossoit bandied about as trade options. Janmark is a pending UFA carrying a $2 million cap hit while Karlsson carries a $5.9 million cap hit through 2026-27 with a 10-team no-trade clause. Dadonov also has no-trade protection.
Of these, Smith would be the easiest to trade. He’s got a $5 million cap hit but lacks no-trade protection and would have considerable value in the trade market among playoff contenders looking for scoring. The Golden Knights could be reluctant to part with him but might not have much choice if they can’t find takers for the other candidates.
GIROUX TO THE AVALANCHE?
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling NHL Network that he considers the Colorado Avalanche as a perfect fit for Claude Giroux. The 34-year-old Philadelphia Flyers captain is an unrestricted free agent this summer and there’s growing conjecture over whether he’ll waive his no-movement clause at the trade deadline.
Given Giroux’s $8.25 million cap hit, Friedman suggested a possible three-way trade involving a club with salary-cap space willing to absorb part of the Flyers forward’s cap hit. He pointed to teams like the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils. The Arizona Coyotes have two retained salaries but can only have three.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman’s been hammering the “Giroux to the Avalanche” drum for a while now. Whether that three-way deal materializes remains to be seen but we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility.
Any club picking up part of Giroux’s cap hit will only be doing so for the remainder of this season. The Coyotes could do it seeing how it’s only short term. It’ll depend, of course, on what they get as a sweetener to make the deal happen.
UPDATES ON THE FLAMES, CANUCKS AND BLUE JACKETS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving could be in the market for secondary scoring before the March 21 trade deadline. He also thinks the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens could be trade partners to address that need. A lot of the top contenders are seeking defensemen, which could give the Flames an edge in the trade market.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance reports Jaroslav Halak’s next game with the Vancouver Canucks will trigger a $1.25 million performance bonus in his contract. He also has a $250K performance bonus if he maintains a save percentage of .905 or higher this season. Those bonuses would count against the Canucks 2022-23 payroll because they’re using long-term injury reserve to exceed this season’s $81.5 million salary cap.
Assuming Halak agrees to waive his no-movement clause before March 21, the Canucks could negotiate with an acquiring club to have them pay his games-played bonus as part of the deal since it has to be paid within 30 days of the conclusion of the season. The other option is to clear enough cap space so that Halak’s bonuses count against this year’s cap payroll.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might be easier to make a cost-cutting deal or two (J.T. Miller? Brock Boeser? Tanner Pearson? Conor Garland?) to free up cap space than to find a club willing to take on Halak’s bonus. Not playing Halak isn’t an option as team president Jim Rutherford said his contract has no bearing on whether he plays or not. Injuries could also force him into the lineup.
Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could be busy at this year’s trade deadline. Pending UFA forward Max Domi is expected to be shopped and it seems center Jack Roslovic could be had for the right price.
The Jackets have been shopping goaltender Joonas Korpisalo for some time but his play hasn’t done much to boost his trade value. They could listen to offers for forward Gustav Nyquist but might have to retain part of his $5.5 million cap hit through 2022-23.