NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2023
Are the Rangers pursuing Timo Meier or Vladislav Gavrikov? What’s going on with Matt Dumba and Jake Muzzin? Are the Canucks close to replacing coach Bruce Boudreau? What’s the latest on the Predators? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
ARE THE RANGERS EYEING MEIER OR GAVRIKOV?
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple cited Daily Faceoff reporting the New York Rangers have taken a long look at Timo Meier. The San Jose Sharks winger is a restricted free agent in July who is due a $10 million qualifying offer and seems likely to be moved before the March 3 trade deadline.
According to Staple, the Sharks would want a young center as part of the package along with one of the two first-round picks the Rangers hold in this year’s draft. However, he pointed out the Blueshirts have a lot of roster holes to fill and limited cap space to do so beyond this season. Meier could get at least $8.5 million annually on his next contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier’s going to be an expensive acquisition for pretty much every playoff contender this season in terms of return and contract beyond this season. A club could acquire him as a rental player and then shop his rights in the offseason. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if a Meier trade occurs in the offseason.
UPDATE ON DUMBA
TSN: Darren Dreger took note of the Minnesota Wild scratching Matt Dumba from Thursday’s game against the Carolina Hurricane. He pointed out the 28-year-old defenseman hasn’t played well of late and believes head coach Dean Evason is trying to send a message. Despite Dumba’s recent play, Dreger said Dumba continues to draw interest in the trade market but he has to get his game back on track.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild general manager Bill Guerin isn’t in any rush to move the struggling Dumba. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Guerin’s received trade calls about the blueliner but he’s not about to move him unless he feels the Wild are getting better. Dumba, meanwhile, said Guerin has been upfront with him that he could be moved by the trade deadline.
LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION
TSN: Chris Johnston reports hockey analyst and former NHL coach Rick Tocchet said he doesn’t have a contract with the Vancouver Canucks. However, Johnston expects that’ll change soon as it sounds like negotiations have started on a deal for Tocchet plus a couple of additions to his coaching staff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I hate how the Canucks are handling this situation. Management is obviously unhappy over Bruce Boudreau’s coaching and they’re entitled to that. However, they’re leaving Boudreau twisting in the wind while it appears they’re very actively courting his replacement. If they don’t want him, they should fire him and install one of the assistant coaches as interim bench boss until his full-time replacement is found.
I don’t fault Tocchet and I believe Boudreau is handling this well despite the circumstances. Nevertheless, this isn’t a good look for the Canucks’ front office. Of course, the case can be made that nobody will care if Tocchet can reverse their fortunes but that doesn’t excuse their shabby treatment of Boudreau.
LEAFS EXPECT CLARITY SOON ON MUZZIN’S STATUS
TSN: Chris Johnston reports it doesn’t sound like there’s been any development on whether sidelined defenseman Jake Muzzin will return to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup this season. They expect to get clarity on his injury status soon as it’ll determine how much longer he’ll remain on long-term injury reserve. If he’s out for the season they could use the cap relief to perhaps acquire someone at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin has been out since Oct. 19 with a cervical spine injury and will be re-evaluated in February. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an average annual value of $5.625 million.
WILL THE PREDATORS MAKE ANY DEADLINE DEAL?
THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina recently speculated over the Nashville Predators’ plans for the March 3 trade deadline. He expects they’ll remain in the playoff race so they’ll either buy or stand pat. “Outside of Mattias Ekholm, who wants no part of moving his family, the Predators don’t have much to offer trade-wise,” writes Skrbina.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm recently surfaced in the rumor mill as a trade candidate. He lacks no-trade protection but he’s also in the first season of a four-year contract with an average annual value of $6.25 million. That salary is almost as effective as a no-trade clause given the high number of cap-strapped teams around the league this season.