Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 20, 2023
Check out the latest on the Flames, Canucks and Capitals in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup
UPDATES ON HANIFIN, LINDHOLM AND BACKLUND
Asked why the Flames haven’t moved Hanifin yet, Steinberg believes it’s because they haven’t received any suitable offers yet for the 26-year-old blueliner. He believes Hanifin remains their top trade chip and should fetch “multiple strong assets” in a trade. The Flames have set their price and will stick with it even if it means starting the season with Hanifin on the roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It can be risky starting the season with a player eligible for unrestricted free-agent status next summer. An injury or a decline in performance could hurt their value when trying to move him before the trade deadline.
Nevertheless, if the offers aren’t there during this summer, the best course of action is to start the season with Hanifin and hope the market improves if he remains healthy and productive.
Asked which teams have the cap space and need for what the Flames are selling, Steinberg listed the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres. Both are hoping to emerge from years of rebuilding into playoff contenders and each has around $6 million in cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm would address the Red Wings’ need for experienced skill at center but he might have to play on the second line behind Dylan Larkin. The Sabres’ bigger concern is their goaltending but they could consider adding someone like Hanifin if they feel they need more depth among their top-four defensemen as the season progresses.
Steinberg indicated that trade offers for the 34-year-old Backlund have been soft. However, they could improve if he puts up numbers similar to last season (56 points in 82 games). He doesn’t believe the Flames should trade him just for the sake of it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. As with Hanifin, they can’t rush into trading Backlund if the offers aren’t suitable. His value could improve over the course of the season, especially if he has another season comparable to 2022-23.
COULD THE CANUCKS TRADE A WINGER THIS SEASON?
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston noted the Vancouver Canucks will have a logjam of wingers this season, especially if Tanner Pearson returns from last year’s season-ending hand injury. Even if he doesn’t, there isn’t enough room for all of Vasily Podkolzin, Conor Garland, Brock Boeser and Nils Hoglander.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could end up moving one of those wingers before the start of the season. Boeser and Garland are the most notable and frequently surfaced in trade rumors last season but any talk about moving one of them dried up over the course of this summer. Their respective contracts are difficult to move under a flattened salary cap but both have also indicated their wish to remain in Vancouver.
Podkolzin or Hoglander could become the odd man out. They carry more affordable contracts which should make them easier to trade if it comes to that.
SHOULD THE CAPITALS CONSIDER SIGNING PULJUJARVI?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber noted that Jesse Puljujarvi remains available as an unrestricted free agent. The 25-year-old winger is recovering from hip surgery but should be ready to return at some point during the coming season.
Noting that Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is still working the phones looking to add to his roster, Silber wondered if there might be a spot for Puljujarvi on a low-risk contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible though I daresay MacLellan is in the market for a player who can have a more immediate effect on the roster. Puljujarvi would be a low-cost option for most NHL clubs willing to gamble on him. Whether any of them will take that chance is another story.