Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 27, 2022
Check out the latest on the Bruins, Hurricanes and Leafs in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont believes the Bruins still look vulnerable on defense, especially on the left side. Jakob Chychrun could address that problem but the cost of acquiring the 23-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman will be expensive.
Dupont wondered if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney could convince Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong to take a flier on winger Jake DeBrusk but it will take much more to pry Chychrun away from the Coyotes. They could ask for top defense prospect Mason Lohrei or Brandon Carlo with his attractive contract with a $4.1 million annual average value.
John Klingberg is a proven offensive blueliner but the 29-year-old Dallas Stars rearguard is older than Chychrun and a right-hand shot. He’s also slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss suggests DeBrusk’s recent improvement could boost his trade value. It’s unlikely he’ll fetch a quality defenseman or middle-six forward on his own but he could be bundled with other assets to make a move for an upgrade.
Goss also wondered if the Bruins should consider bringing back Phil Kessel. The 34-year-old winger began his NHL career in Boston. He’s now a pending UFA and is expected to be shopped by the Coyotes before the March 21 trade deadline. Goss cites an anonymous NHL executive recently telling The Athletic the Coyotes are seeking a third-rounder and are willing to retain half of Kessel’s $6.8 million cap hit. If that’s the case, Goss suggests the Bruins seriously consider that move.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa considers rental players such as Kessel, Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux and Seattle’s Mark Giordano to be “unlikely pickups” for the Bruins. He points out many of Sweeney’s previous trade deadline acquisitions, such as Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle, were either players with terms remaining on their contracts or those willing to sign contract extensions with the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have just over $5 million in trade deadline cap space so I anticipate Sweeney will be in the market for that top-four left-side defenseman or middle-six forward. Pursuing someone like Chychrun would fit into his habit of adding players with term remaining on their contracts but, as Dupont observed, the asking price will be steep. It’s believed the Coyotes seek a first-round, a top prospect and a good young NHL player.
DeBrusk could be packaged into a deal for Chychrun but I don’t see the Bruins being able to outbid other clubs with more tradeable assets. Bear in mind the Coyotes aren’t under any pressure to trade Chychurn, who’s signed through 2024-25. They can wait until the offseason if they don’t get any suitable offers by March 21.
DeCock believes the Hurricanes need a top-four defenseman who can skate alongside Jaccob Slavin. While Tony DeAngelo has filled that role and played well this season, that pairing cannot be protected in playoff games on the road against the likes of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov or Florida’s Aleksander Barkov.
Hurricanes GM Don Waddell acknowledged adding another defenseman would be nice but he also pointed out his club has limited salary-cap space. They’re already above the salary cap by over $1 million but that doesn’t prorate like regular cap space. There’s also the question of return. They don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft and Waddell said the Hurricanes will almost certainly not part with their 2023 first-rounder. He could also be hesitant to part with his top prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out the possibility of Waddell making a move to bolster his blueline. Based on DeCock’s report, however, it’s not going to be easy. He could end up making a depth addition if he’s unwilling to move his 2023 first-rounder, top prospects or anyone from his roster to land an impact player.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t in any position to rush sidelined defenseman Jake Muzzin back into the lineup. They’re telling teams if he’s healthy enough to return before the end of the season, they’re not going to hold him out of the lineup before the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs placed Muzzin (concussion) on long-term injury reserve. That would enable them to exceed the salary cap by the equivalent of his $5.625 million cap hit to bring in a replacement. However, the Leafs would have to become cap compliant if Muzzin returns before the end of the regular season.
By the sound of things, the Leafs don’t intend to approach the trade deadline with the assumption Muzzin won’t return before the playoffs. They’ll have to find another way to create sufficient salary cap space if they intend to make a significant addition by the trade deadline.