NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2023
The Leafs and Canucks could be in the market for defensemen while the Oilers could be scouting the Blue Jackets goalies. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WILL THE LEAFS SHOP FOR A DEFENSEMAN?
SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman noted the Toronto Maple Leafs are down three defensemen with Mark Giordano, John Klingberg and Timothy Liljegren sidelined by injuries. He wondered if this was the year for the Leafs to spend key assets on rental replacements.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Johnston believes it’s not difficult to draw a line from Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving to his former club in Calgary, where the Flames have a blueline that features several attractive trade targets.
Johnston rules out Noah Hanifin given the expense of his next contract and the fact the Leafs are believed to be on his eight-team no-trade list. However, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov could hold some appeal.
Other options include former Leaf Ilya Lyubushkin of the Anaheim Ducks and Sean Walker of the Philadelphia Flyers. As for what the Leafs could use for trade capital, Johnston noted that they have nine picks in the 2024 draft, including a first-rounder.
DAILY FACEOFF: Chris Tanev tops Mark Larkin’s list of seven possible trade targets for the Leafs. Others include Zadorov, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Andrew Peeke, the Nashville Predators’ Alexandre Carrier, the Seattle Kraken’s Will Borgen, the San Jose Sharks’ Mario Ferraro and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Sanheim.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zadorov’s recent trade request makes him the most likely among this group to be moved. Given the Flames’ recent rise in the standings, however, they’re probably not in any hurry to move Zadorov, Tanev or anyone else.
Peeke could be the next most likely to be available. He was among three defensemen (Adam Boqvist and Jake Bean being the others) that the Jackets were reportedly shopping back in October. Lyubushkin and Borgen could also become available if their respective clubs fail to gain ground in the standings.
Ferraro is signed through 2025-26 and the Sharks might not be keen to move him unless it’s for a substantial offer. The Preds might not be sellers if they continue climbing in the standings.
The Flyers are reportedly willing to listen if they get offers that could build up their foundation but they’re not listening on every player. They might move Walker later in the season but I doubt they’ll part with Sanheim. He has 16 points in 22 games and carries a $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2030-31 along with a full no-trade clause.
CANUCKS LOOKING FOR A BLUELINER
One option could be bringing back free agent Ethan Bear, though he’s not expected to be ready to return from offseason shoulder surgery until late December. He also noted the Conor Garland sweepstakes have slowed down because he’s playing well and the Canucks no longer have a cap crunch. They’re also not interested in moving their first-round draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman’s colleague Iain MacIntyre reported Canucks GM Patrik Allvin acknowledged his club’s need for more blueline depth. “I think we can get help on the back end, yes,” he said.
They could be waiting for Bear to be ready to return or they could consider other options like those suggested for the Maple Leafs. Given how well they’re currently playing, the Canucks don’t have to rush into making a move. Nevertheless, they could be worth watching before the holiday trade freeze (Dec. 20-27) kicks in.
ARE THE OILERS SCOUTING THE BLUE JACKETS GOALIES?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman noted three Edmonton Oilers executives/scouts were in Columbus for the second time this week. They were there on Monday when the Blue Jackets defeated the Boston Bruins with Spencer Martin getting the win in goal. They were also there on Wednesday when Elvis Merzlikins faced the Montreal Canadiens.
With Danill Tarasov due to return from injury soon, the Blue Jackets could have one goalie too many unless they intend on carrying three. Friedman also noted that it’s possible the Oilers could recall Jack Campbell if he plays well.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were also linked to Montreal Canadiens goalies Sam Montembeault and Jake Allen but that speculation has recently subsided. Montembeault played well in a 4-2 win over the Jackets so perhaps the Oilers might revisit their interest in him.