NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2023
SUGGESTED DESTINATIONS FOR JONATHAN TOEWS
THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman recently listed the Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars as six teams who should be in the mix for Jonathan Toews.
Goldman acknowledged Toews has yet to decide if he’ll waive his no-movement clause before the March 3 trade deadline. She also noted the decline in the 34-year-old center’s performance but suggested that could be due to the depleted Blackhawks roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews and teammate Patrick Kane are expected to meet with Blackhawks management by the middle of this month to discuss their futures. Toews should draw interest around the league if he agrees to waive his no-movement clause, though the remainder of his $10.5 million cap hit will require some creativity for the aforementioned clubs to acquire him.
The Avalanche and Hurricanes both need a reliable second-line center while the Jets and Stars could be in the market for a top-six forward. The Oilers and Capitals, on the other hand, are believed seeking blue-line depth. That will take them out of the market for Toews.
IS THERE INTEREST IN KEVIN HAYES?
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi cited Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen recently reported that there is an NHL club showing interest in Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes and wants to move him back to center. The 30-year-old has been playing mostly on left wing this season and has 15 goals and 45 points in 50 games this season.
Carchidi points out that Hayes has three more years remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $7.1 million. He also has a 12-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen and Carchidi didn’t indicate which team is interested in Hayes. His partial no-trade clause could be a sticking point but his annual cap hit is the bigger obstacle.
The interested club could prefer the Flyers retain part of Hayes’ cap hit. I don’t think Philadelphia general manager Chuck Fletcher would want that retained salary on his books as dead cap space for three years.
POTENTIAL BLUES TRADE CANDIDATES
SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe looked at potential St. Louis Blues trade candidates if they become sellers leading up to the March 3 deadline. He noted that GM Doug Armstrong isn’t afraid to make difficult or occasionally unpopular decisions.
Wiebe believes decisions are coming soon for pending unrestricted free agents such as Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev, Noel Acciari, Tyler Pitlick, Josh Leivo, Niko Mikkola and Thomas Greiss. However, he also wondered if Armstrong would consider moving some of his core players with term remaining on their contracts. Whether there will trade discussions regarding defenseman Colton Parayko or winger Pavel Buchnevich remains to be seen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe pointed out that not all of those Blues pending UFAs could hit the trade block. Some of them, including O’Reilly, could be re-signed. As for players like Parayko and Buchnevich, Armstrong could retain them with an eye on building up a new core around Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. Still, he could listen if a club comes calling with an interesting offer.
A THIN GOALIE MARKET
SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently examined a rather thin trade market for goaltenders as deadline day approaches. Those who could draw some trade buzz include the Arizona Coyotes’ Karel Vejmelka, Columbus Blue Jackets Joonas Korpisalo, San Jose Sharks James Reimer, Ottawa Senators Cam Talbot and the Vancouver Canucks’ Thatcher Demko.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Demko popped up in the rumor mill after Bo Horvat got traded but I don’t believe the Canucks are willing to go that far. They’re talking about retooling rather than rebuilding and they’ll need an affordable starter ($5 million annually through 2025-26).
I realize there is some concern about Demko’s shaky play earlier this season before he was sidelined on Dec. 1 with a leg/hip injury. Still, trading him would be an extreme reaction on the Canucks’ part and an admission that they’re doing more than just retooling.
Vejmelka keeps coming up in the rumor mill because he carries an affordable $2.75 million cap hit through 2024-25 and put up decent numbers this season on the woeful Coyotes until January. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could listen to offers but I’m skeptical that he’ll trade Vejmelka.
Korpisalo, Reimer and Talbot seem more likely trade candidates given their UFA statuses this summer. Of those three, I think Reimer is the one who’ll be on the move. Talbot’s banged up and teams passed on Korpisalo at last year’s deadline.