NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2022
Are the Bruins interested in Sean Monahan? What’s the latest on Bo Horvat, Jonathan Toews, and Alexis Lafreniere? Could the Red Wings face a decision regarding their goaltending? Find out in our year-ending NHL Rumor Mill.
TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault reports several teams have an interest in Sean Monahan as a playoff rental player. He’s been told the Boston Bruins are among those looking at the Montreal Canadiens center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Monahan, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He carries a $6.375 million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade clause. Monahan was enjoying a solid performance with 17 points in 25 games until sidelined on Dec. 6 by a foot injury. He’s expected to return soon to the Canadiens’ lineup.
If Monahan picks up where he left off he’ll draw plenty of interest in the trade market. The rebuilding Canadiens will likely have to pick up a portion of his remaining cap hit but could willingly do so if it’ll improve the chances of acquiring a high-quality draft pick or a good young player.
The Bruins are pressed for cap space and will have to part with a salaried player to acquire Monahan even if the Canadiens retain salary on the deal. I’m also not seeing a heck of a lot on their active roster that would fit into the Habs rebuilding program. If the Bruins make a cost-cutting deal with another team, perhaps they could use the return as part of a package for Monahan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have the depth in promising young players to perhaps put together a tempting offer for Horvat. The 27-year-old center is on pace to reach 50 goals for the first time in his career and will be in line for a big pay raise as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
However, I don’t see the Canadiens pursuing Horvat. They would need assurances that he will sign with them. Otherwise, they’ll be giving up valuable young assets for a veteran who could walk as a free agent in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pedneault’s not the only observer who believes Toews would be a good fit as a second or third-line center with the Avalanche. Making the dollars fit for the Avs could be tricky. They’ll have over $5 million in projected cap space by the trade deadline but could request the Blackhawks retain half of the remainder of Toews’ $10.5 million cap hit.
Even then, the Avs could be forced to shed a salary unless they make this a three-team trade to spread the cap hit around. That’s assuming, of course, that Toews waives his no-movement clause.
The New York Rangers scratching Alexis Lafreniere from the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning raises questions about his future. Pedneault believes Lafreniere isn’t a power forward as the Rangers envisioned but a playmaker. He wondered if the 2020 first-overall pick could become trade bait to acquire Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks also weighed in on Lafreniere’s situation. He can’t imagine what type of return the 21-year-old left winger could fetch that would be considered equal value. Brooks also pointed out the risk of trading Lafreniere and watching him thrive with another team.
For now, the Rangers don’t have to rush into moving Lafreniere. He’s a restricted free agent in July coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. They could sign him to a low-cost bridge deal and try to help him improve his game. Nevertheless, the young winger could become a valuable trade chip if the Blueshirts make a major move by the March 3 trade deadline or during the offseason.
THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman recently speculated the Detroit Red Wings could face a decision regarding their goaltending. They’ve been carrying three goaltenders since November when they claimed Magnus Hellberg off waivers.
The Wings have leaned heavily on starter Ville Husso while Hellberg has appeared in three games. Alex Nedeljkovic, meanwhile, hasn’t played since Dec. 8. He could be loaned to their AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint but still remains on their roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings could put Hellberg or Nedeljkovic on waivers to send them down to the AHL but there’s a risk they’ll get plucked away by another club. Perhaps a trade could be in order in the near future.