NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2022
NOTE: The NHL’s annual holiday roster freeze goes into effect at 11:59 PM ET on Dec. 19 and runs through 12:01 AM ET on Dec. 28.
COULD THE RANGERS OR BRUINS LAND PATRICK KANE?
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports Patrick Kane hasn’t made a decision yet on what his future will look like beyond the March 3 trade deadline. Nevertheless, he examined what a trade between the Blackhawks and New York Rangers involving Patrick Kane might look like.
Roumeliotis believes the Rangers have the assets the Blackhawks are looking for. They’re loaded with young players, most of whom are underperforming and could use a change of scenery. The Blueshirts also carry two first-round picks in the 2023 draft. They also have $7.1 million in projected trade deadline cap space. The move would reunite Kane with former linemate Artemi Panarin.
As for what the return might look like, Roumeliotis believes a first-round pick would be part of the package. He doesn’t see the Rangers parting with K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider but thinks Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere would be part of the discussion. He also doesn’t think the Blackhawks would be interested in winger Vitali Kravtsov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers would likely still want the Blackhawks to retain a portion of Kane’s salary. However, their cap space means they wouldn’t have to get a third team involved in the deal to make the dollars fit.
One of those two picks is conditional with the Dallas Stars. If it’s a top-10 selection, it instead becomes the Stars’ unprotected first-round pick in 2024. Given the Stars’ high placement in the Western Conference this season, it’s safe to assume their 2023 pick will belong to the Rangers.
Chytil, Kakko or Lafreniere will have to be part of the return. Not all three, of course, and it’s unlikely two of them will be included in the deal. I can see Kravtsov being a toss-in as he doesn’t appear to have a future with the Rangers. There could be another draft pick plus a prospect or two heading Chicago’s way in this hypothetical deal.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited a rumor linking the Bruins to Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews. However, an NHL source claims the Bruins are more interested in Kane. The source told Murphy that any trade talks between the two clubs are merely exploratory at this point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are pressed against the $82.5 million salary cap. They could get $3.1 million in cap relief if somebody claims Craig Smith off waivers by noon ET today but that seems unlikely given how much clubs also carry limited cap space right now.
Even if someone claims Smith, it might not give the Bruins sufficient wiggle room to acquire Kane or Toews at the trade deadline. They might have to get a third team involved to spread their cap hit around, which could be complicated to pull off.
They also lack depth in the type of promising young assets to tempt the Blackhawks. Unless clubs like the Rangers aren’t pursuing Kane or Toews, I don’t see the Bruins winning a bidding war for either guy before March 3.
UPDATE ON JAKOB CHYCHRUN
THE JEFF MAREK SHOW (stick tap to NHL Watcher): Guest host Mark Marchese suggested the Buffalo Sabres as a dark horse contender for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He would complement Owen Power or Rasmus Dahlin plus the Sabres have the assets to entice the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Three weeks ago, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski cited sources confirming the Sabres had an interest in Chychrun. They’ve got plenty of cap space to take on his $4.6 million annual cap hit through 2024-25.
Thanks to their league-leading offense, the Sabres are steadily moving closer to playoff contention. His puck-moving skills would make Chychrun a good fit there. The Coyotes reportedly seek two first-round picks plus a top prospect or good young NHL player in return.
Elliotte Friedman noted the Columbus Blue Jackets have been in and out of the Chychrun sweepstakes for some time but he doesn’t see them trading first-rounders. The Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers have been around it. He doesn’t see the Toronto Maple Leafs getting involved.
Friedman felt the Florida Panthers are the team that makes the most sense for Chychrun. However, they’re in the least position to do it because they lack the type of assets the Coyotes want.