NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2019

Updates on the Penguins, Stars, and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said his acquisition of center Joseph Blandisi from the Anaheim Ducks wasn’t tied to a possible move of Derick Brassard. He claimed he swapped Derek Grant for Blandisi because of concern he’d lose Grant for nothing via waivers if he attempted to demote him. 

Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard continues to pop up in media trade chatter (Photo via NHL Images).

Mackey noted there’s growing speculation suggesting the Penguins will trade Brassard but Rutherford said he doesn’t know where it’s coming from.  “Media people keep asking about him. We haven’t taken any position one way or the other. I guess it’s a fun topic of the time right now.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blandisi has since been sent to the Penguins AHL affiliate. For whatever reason, Brassard hasn’t been a good fit as the Penguins third-line center. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s shipped out before the trade deadline to make room for a replacement. 

Rutherford won’t publicly admit if he’s trading him. Nevertheless, there was a recent report claiming the Columbus Blue Jackets had asked about the veteran center.


DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In the wake of the Dallas Stars shipping Devin Shore to Anaheim last week for Andrew Cogliano, Joey Hayden wondered if general manager Jim Nill has more moves up his sleeve before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. He noted ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski recently suggested Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist or New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello as possible rentals to bolster the Stars’ offense.

Both possess salary-cap hits between $4.5 to $4.75 million, meaning the Stars would have to free up some dollars to take on one of them. “Should the Stars want to add another piece before next month’s trade deadline, they’ll likely have to shut down Marc Methot (knee), Martin Hanzal (back) or Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches) for the season,” said Hayden. Doing so would free up the necessary cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayden observes Methot’s cap hit is $4.9 million, Hanzal’s is $4.75 million and Johns is $2.35 million. Cap Friendly indicates the Stars’ current cap space is $2.53 million and $4.8 million at the deadline. Putting one of those guys on LTIR would provide additional breathing room, especially if they don’t move a salaried player to acquire a scorer.

The asking price for Nyquist could be a first-rounder but the Wings could part with him for a second-rounder. Zuccarello’s recent improvement could also push up his trade value into the second-round pick range. 


AZCENTRAL.COM: Richard Morin listed Richard Panik, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Weal, and Jordan Oesterle as Arizona Coyotes who could come up in trade discussions. Morin considers Panik, a pending UFA winger, the most likely to be moved, suggesting the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild as potential suitors

Goligoski and Hjalmarsson are both signed beyond this season and could attract interest. Goligoski, however, has a full no-movement and Hjalmarsson a 10-team trade list.

Weal, recently acquired from Philadelphia, could have value if he puts up points if he continues skating on the Coyotes’ first line. Oesterle could interest teams seeking an affordable puck-moving defenseman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panik tallied 22 goals in 2016-17 with the Chicago Blackhawks. With 10 goals in 45 games, he could hit the 20-goal mark this season. That could make him a cost-effective option for clubs that miss out on landing some of the biggest fish leading up to the trade deadline. I doubt Goligoski and Hjalmarsson, who signed a two-year contract extension last summer, are going anywhere. 

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 20, 2019

Latest on the Maple Leafs, Senators, Islanders, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor roundup. 


SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are searching for a right-shot defenseman. He brought up Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, who was first mentioned in trade speculation a couple of months ago.

While it’s debatable if Pietrangelo’s still available, Kypreos speculated they could be a few losing streaks away from making him available. Pursuing a top-four rearguard will be expensive.

Possible trade chips could include their 2019 first-round pick or prospects such as Timothy Liljegren or Calle Rosen. The Leafs aren’t willing to part with winger Kasperi Kapanen or 2018 first-round pick Rasmus Sandin. 

Elliotte Friedman suggested the Leafs consider such options as Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings or Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo becomes available (and that might not happen until June at the earliest), Kapanen and Sandin would probably be the Blues’ asking price. Muzzin is a left-shot defenseman so he can’t address that right-shot need. Gudas shoots right and would provide some grit to their blueline but he’s skating on the Flyers’ third defense pairing. The Leafs could be seeking someone with a better right-side presence than Gudas. 

Ottawa Senators reportedly make an eight-year contract offer to center Matt Duchene (Photo via NHL Images)


SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the Ottawa Senators made an offer to center Matt Duchene believed to be in the vicinity of $64 million over eight years. The annual average value would be $8 million, which Kypreos deems a fair offer for Duchene. He also speculated there could be a soft deadline to this. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement soon, Kypreos believes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion will need at least two weeks to shop Duchene before the Feb. 25 trade deadline to get the best return possible. 

Elliotte Friedman believes the Senators also made an offer to pending UFA winger Mark Stone. He’s not certain of the salary numbers but assumed they could be higher than Duchene’s. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eight years and $64 million may seem like a fair offer for Duchene but does his camp feel the same way? They could decide he might get more via free agency. 


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wouldn’t be shocked if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello became a buyer as the Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches. While no one knows what the famously tight-lipped Lamoriello has in store, Brooks noted he has a history of making moves near the deadline when he believes his team is close.

Lamoriello has a collection of young assets he could peddle near the trade deadline. Brooks speculates his rental targets might include Matt Duchene or Mark Stone of the Senators, or maybe a defenseman such as Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez of the Kings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are the biggest surprise of this season. After losing John Tavares to Toronto via free agency, they were expected to finish near the bottom of the standings. Instead, they begin this week sitting atop the Metropolitan Division.

As Brooks points out, we don’t know what Lamoriello’s plans are or who he might target if he does decide to be active in the trade market. But I think he’ll do what he can to improve his club’s playoff odds. 


DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes the Colorado Avalanche should pursue New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, suggesting it can be done without mortgaging the future. GM Joe Sakic holds two first-round picks in this year’s draft, one of them a lottery-protected selection from the Ottawa Senators. Kiszla suggests Sakic offer up the Avs first-rounder to the Rangers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would certainly be a bold move by Sakic to pursue Hayes. He has to do something, however, to bolster his club’s secondary scoring depth. Already guaranteed of a high pick in this year’s draft, perhaps even the first-overall selection, Sakic can afford to dangle his own first-rounder to bring in a reliable second-line scorer. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports a league source claims the Chicago Blackhawks are shopping forwards Marcus Kruger, Chris Kunitz, and Andreas Martinsen. Kruger could attract interest from clubs seeking checking-line depth.  Powers also recently examined the pros and cons of trading defenseman Erik Gustafsson. If they move Gustafsson, he could fetch a third-round pick. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kruger, Kunitz, and Martinson are all due for UFA status this summer. Kruger has a seven-team no-trade list while Kunitz has a full no-movement clause. Each could fetch a draft pick but probably nothing higher than a third. 

NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2019

Latest on William Nylander, Vladimir Tarasenko, Wayne Simmonds, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Talbot and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


Could the William Nylander rumor mill grind back to life in the offseason? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPORTSNET (VIA KUKLA’S KORNER): Brian Burke predicts the Toronto Maple Leafs will move William Nylander this summer. He feels the winger’s contract is structured in such a way (front-loaded) that it’ll make it easy for the club to move him this summer.

Burke suggested several factors as to why Nylander could be traded so soon after the Leafs re-signed him. He considers the winger a valuable asset who’ll fetch a good return, noted the Leafs have too many highly-skilled forwards “who aren’t big”, and he’s a good player but not a difference maker. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month ago, it would’ve been laughable to suggest the Leafs could trade Nylander next summer. After all, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas told Nylander he won’t be traded.

But with Nylander struggling since returning to action last month following a lengthy contract standoff, there’s growing discontent over his performance and how much the Leafs have invested in him. If he fails to improve over the remainder of this season and the Leafs suffer another early playoff exit, the Nylander trade chatter will intensify in the offseason. 


PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said Wayne Simmonds will be re-signed or moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. The club isn’t willing to lose Simmonds to free agency this summer for nothing. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited Elliotte Friedman’s appearance yesterday on Edmonton’s 630 CHED discussing Simmonds’ future. He believes it more likely than not that the 30-year-old winger will be traded. He suggests Nashville or Boston as possible destinations. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Joe Rexrode acknowledged Simmonds would bring the Predators a strong net-front presence but believes the Flyers’ asking price will be too expensive. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe Simmonds is more likely to be traded and I think the Bruins will be among the frontrunners. I don’t doubt the Predators would have interest but not at any cost. Simmonds isn’t the only Flyer available in the trade market. After forward Dale Weise cleared waivers, Fletcher reportedly told him to stay home and wait for a trade. 


STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with his readers, Tom Timmermann said he believes the St. Louis Blues will be sellers at the trade deadline unless the Central Division standings do a complete 180-degree turn. He doesn’t see them trading prospects to make a run for the postseason, suggesting unrestricted free agents such as Carl Gunnarsson and Jay Bouwmeester could be moved.  

While the Blues might get better returns for Brayden Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo by trading them with a year left on their contracts, moving them if they can’t get a good return now would be a bad idea. 

BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter noted the trade speculation surrounding Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. While he would be a great fit with the Bruins, the Blues would probably want a combination of top draft picks, high-end prospects and young standouts such as Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk in return. Porter also notes the Bruins have only $3.8 million in salary-cap space while Tarasenko carries an annual average value of $7.5 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Bruins want to add another scoring winger but I daresay they’re looking at affordable rental options. Tarasenko is well out of their price range. 


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the San Jose Sharks are in the market for a center. He thinks they checked into the availability of Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford apparently wants a roster player who can fill the third-line center position. The Sharks won’t be able to help them there unless Rutherford uses assets received from the Sharks to bring in a center in a separate deal. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggested the recent improvement of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could hasten his departure from the Rangers. He has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.65 million and a 10-team no-trade list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk is a right-shot puck-moving defenseman with five 40-plus point seasons on his resume. He’s also been hampered by injuries in recent years. Unless the Rangers are willing to pick up part of his cap hit or take back a toxic contract, I’m not sure they’ll find much interest in his services. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Brian Burke talking about the trade value of Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot, who’s due to become a UFA this summer. “I don’t think you can move him at that salary. I just don’t think he’s moveable. But I don’t think anyone is going to take a UFA that is making that kind of money and hope he gets his game straightened out for the last month of the year.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Staples points out, Burke is telling Oilers fans a hard truth: Talbot has little or no trade value. His salary-cap hit is $4.16 million and he’s playing poorly this season. 


DALLAS MORNING NEWS: During a recent live chat with his readers, Matthew DeFranks speculates Stars GM Jim Nill isn’t done dealing after shipping Devin Shore earlier this week to Anaheim for Andrew Cogliano. While the Stars are pressed for cap space to add a top-six forward, DeFranks suggested putting Martin Hanzal, Marc Methot or Stephen Johns on LTIR could clear some room. He also doesn’t rule out the possibility of Nill trying to find a trade partner for someone like Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin, or Julius Honka. 

NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2019

Latest on the Senators, Hurricanes, Red Wings, Canadiens, Kings, Oilers, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


TSN: Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie report preliminary contract discussions are ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agents Matt Duchene and Mark Stone. With the Feb. 25th NHL trade deadline approaching, a decision will have to be reached soon if they’ll be re-signed or traded. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing yesterday on Edmonton’s TSN 1260, Dreger believes Senators center Ryan Dzingel could be traded. Like Duchene and Stone, Dzingel is due to become a UFA in July. Dreger thinks the Senators can get a decent return and feels teams looking for an upgrade up front, such as the Edmonton Oilers, have to be considering Dzingel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Duchene and/or Stone haven’t’ re-signed by the time the calendar flips to February I believe the Senators will try to move them. If that happens they could push to re-sign Dzingel. I think the Sens prefer to re-sign Dzingel but if Duchene and Stone are re-signed they won’t have enough cap space to keep him. 


The Carolina Hurricanes could still shop one of their defensemen, such as Dougie Hamilton, for a scoring forward. (Photo via NHL Images)

TSN: Bob McKenzie said the Carolina Hurricanes’ acquisition yesterday of winger Nino Niederreiter won’t prevent them from shopping one of their defensemen for a forward. Dougie Hamilton is frequently mentioned of late as a trade candidate but McKenzie feels any of their right-shot blueliners other than Jaccob Slavin is available for the right price.

McKenzie also noted the Hurricanes still have to decide what to do with pending UFA winger Micheal Ferland. It’s believed team owner Tom Dundon recently met with Ferland. In an interview earlier in the day with Edmonton’s TSN 1260, Darren Dreger said the Hurricane’s preference is to re-sign the winger but it depends on the cost. There’s speculation Ferland’s seeking $6 million per season but Dreger said he doesn’t believe the winger’s agent has submitted that request. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Slavin is a left-hand shot but it’s believed he’s the sole untouchable on the Hurricanes’ blueline. Hamilton, Brett Pesce, and Justin Faulk have popped up in trade speculation since last summer. One of them seems likely to be deal for a scoring forward. If they can’t get Ferland re-signed, he’ll be shopped before the trade deadline. 


TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Detroit Red Wings could have some interesting commodities to dangle in the trade market. Goaltender Jimmy Howard, winger Gustav Nyquist, winger Luke Glendening, and defenseman Niklas Kronwall could be of interest to playoff contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings reportedly seek a first-round pick for Howard or Nyquist. Kronwall, who could retire at season’s end, has a 10-team trade list and I think he prefers finishing his career in Detroit. 


TSN: Darren Dreger appeared on Montreal’s TSN 690 yesterday discussing possible moves by the Canadiens. While GM Marc Bergevin recently expressed his reluctance to trade draft picks and prospects this season, Dreger wonders if the growing number of quality players in the trade market might change his mind, especially with the Habs jockeying for a playoff spot. He noted players such as Jake Muzzin and Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings and Brayden Schenn of the St. Louis Blues could be tempting targets for the Canadiens or any other club.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Bergevin doesn’t intend to be a buyer or a seller this season. The Habs GM could make a move if it’s a hockey trade for a player with term left on his contract that makes sense for his club. Noting the Canadiens have plenty of salary-cap space, he speculates a team looking to shed salary could come calling.  Speaking of Muzzin, LeBrun reports the Kings’ asking price is a first-round pick and a prospect. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens need help on the left side of their blueline and Muzzin could be a great fit. If Bergevin remains resistant over moving his picks or prospects, however, he’ll have to look elsewhere for a left-side defenseman. 


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Darren Dreger told Edmonton’s TSN 1260 his sources say the Oilers are reluctant to move Puljujarvi, who’s seeing limited playing time and doesn’t want to return to the AHL. While there are rumors the Oilers could move their 2019 first-round pick for a top-four defenseman or top-six forward, Dreger said he doesn’t think they’re aggressively shopping that pick. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites a report by a Finnish sportswriter blaming the Oilers for hurting Puljujarvi’s development. The young winger also acknowledged he’s heard the trade speculation but said he’s not thinking about it. The writer, however, believes Puljujarvi would benefit from a trade. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi is only 20 and still has plenty of time to become a scoring winger. I can understand the Oilers’ reluctance to give up on him and risk seeing him blossom elsewhere. However, this situation could reach a point where they’ll have no choice but to move him, especially if they get a decent offer that can help them right away and over the long term. 


WGR 550: cited a report by TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie indicating Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is unhappy over the decline in his playing time. He and his agent have requested a trade. Beaulieu said he likes Buffalo but he wants more playing time. 

NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2019

Check out the latest speculation about Matt Duchene, Wayne Simmonds, Micheal Ferland, Sergei Bobrovsky, Brayden Schenn, and other notable names from TSN’s updated “Trade Bait” board in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

Matt Duchene

Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene rises to the top of TSN’s updated NHL “Trade Bait” list. (Photo via NHL Images)

Uncertainty over the contract-extension negotiations between the Ottawa Senators and Matt Duchene puts the Senators center atop TSN’s updated NHL “Trade Bait” board. Frank Seravalli suggests the Senators will need an answer soon from Duchene regarding his plans. If he opts to test the market, general manager Pierre Dorion will need time to shop him before the deadline. 

Wayne Simmonds

TSN has Simmonds sitting second on their trade-bait listing. The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont noted the Bruins seek a scoring winger for David Krejci’s line. The Flyers could seek a first-round pick and a prospect or two, which would be “higher than any Bruins fan would want”. The Bruins gave up their first rounder in last year’s Rick Nash deal and could be reluctant to do it again. 

Micheal Ferland

The Carolina Hurricanes winger sits third on TSN’s list. Like Duchene and Simmonds, he’s a pending UFA. Elliotte Friedman indicates the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Vancouver Canucks are among the suitors. 

Mats Zuccarello

The New York Rangers pending UFA winger sits fourth on TSN’s list. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculates the Edmonton Oilers, who are reportedly shopping for a forward, may have checked into Zuccarello’s availability. However, they prefer not to give up a significant asset for a rental player.

Oilers 2019 first-round pick and Puljujarvi

The pick sits fifth on the TSN board while Puljujarvi is 14th. Friedman believes that pick is “definitely in play” but there’s disagreement in the Oilers front office over moving Puljujarvi. They’ve also let it be known Ryan Spooner is available. 

Sergei Bobrovsky

A pending UFA, the two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy is sixth on this list. Despite all the recent drama surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender, Darren Dreger believes the Jackets have “very little” appetite to move him because of where they are in the standings. He feels the only way that changes is if Bobrovsky demands a trade. Dreger still believes Bobrovsky wants to help the Jackets win this season. 

Gustav Nyquist and Jimmy Howard

These two Detroit Red Wings sit eighth and ninth respectively on this list. The Athletic’s Max Bultman recently listed the Nashville Predators, San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, and Boston Bruins as possible destinations for Nyquist. MLive.com’s Ansar Khan reports the Wings could seek a first-round pick for Nyquist or Howard but haven’t ruled out re-signing them.

Brayden Schenn

Schenn sits 10th on this list. NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty reports several sources claimed the Blues center is someone who interests the Bruins. He also wonders if the Bruins might aim higher for Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. (SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price for Schenn will be much more affordable than that for Tarasenko). 

Nick Bjugstad

The Florida Panthers forward is 18th on the trade bait list. The Athletic’s George Richards includes Bjugstad on his list of Panthers who could be available leading up to the Feb. 25 trade deadline. He has two years left on his contract with a $4.1 million annual average value. Richards believes it’ll take “a very nice offer” to pry him away from the Panthers. 

Kaspari Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson

The two Toronto Maple Leafs forwards sit 22nd and 23rd respectively on this list. Both are restricted free agents. If the Leafs are to pursue a good defenseman, Bob McKenzie feels it could cost them Kapanen or Johnsson as part of the return. He also suggested the Leafs first-round pick in 2019 could also be in play. 

Jay Bouwmeester

The St. Louis Blues defenseman sits 30th on this list. Friedman noted he’s been playing better of late and has heard a few teams are watching him. 

Derick Brassard

The Penguins center didn’t make TSN’s list, probably because it was compiled before word came earlier this week suggesting Brassard could be shopped. Friedman noted the Winnipeg Jets were interested in him last season. Brassard resisted but that won’t be a problem this season. Friedmans also suggested the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks as possible destinations. 

The Score’s Sean O’Leary cites a report by The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline claiming the Blue Jackets and Penguins have had discussions about Brassard. (SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Penguins are getting a third-line center in return, they could be reluctant to move Brassard to a division rival that they could meet in the playoffs. Then again, maybe the Pens could move Brassard there for a different return that could be used in a deal with another club to add that third-line center.)

NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2019

Updates on Sergei Bobrovsky, Wayne Simmonds, and Micheal Ferland plus the latest on the Penguins and Leafs in today’s NHL Rumor Mill. 


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports sources said Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky’s camp, led by agent Paul Theofanous, informed team management that he wouldn’t sign a contract extension with them and was willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right deal. They also presented them with a list of their client’s preferred trade destinations. 

According to LeBrun, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen never contacted those teams because the Jackets decided they want to try and win this year with Bobrovsky. However, the incident last week where the goalie didn’t return to the bench after being pulled from a game might give management a reason to reconsider if those teams should start calling about him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem for the Jackets is trying to find a suitable replacement for Bobrovsky if they were to trade him away before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. There aren’t many suitable candidates potentially available. The best is Detroit’s Jimmy Howard but the Red Wings reportedly want a first-round pick for him. Unless the Jackets get a substantial offer too good to pass up for Bobrovsky they’ll likely stick with him for the remainder of the season. 

Interest could be growing in Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds (Photo via NHL Images)


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Vancouver’s TSN 1040, Pierre LeBrun believes Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds would be a great fit with the Boston Bruins, who are calling around in search of depth on right wing. He also suggested the Tampa Bay Lightning could use a physical player like Simmonds to prevent them from getting pushed around in the playoffs as they were by Washington last spring.  LeBrun doesn’t know if the Lightning is looking at Simmonds but wouldn’t be surprised if they were. 

Appearing on NHL Network yesterday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Simmonds is garnering plenty of interest. He noted the Nashville Predators have been linked to Simmonds. He also thinks the winger would be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens but GM Marc Bergevin said he won’t pursue rentals. Friedman also wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs might pursue Simmonds if they decide they need some “heavier hockey.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun’s colleague Bob McKenzie last week said the Flyers haven’t decided yet what they’ll do with Simmonds. If they opt to move him, and I believe they will, plenty of clubs will line up for his services as a rental player.

Some Boston pundits have been stumping for weeks for the Bruins to add Simmonds. While we don’t know the Lightning’s intentions, they’ve been willing to make bold moves before the trade deadline in the past. Wouldn’t surprise me if Simmonds is on their radar. As for the Leafs, they need one or maybe two good right-side defensemen. Simmonds can’t help them there. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During his appearance on NHL Network, Elliotte Friedman also said he believes there’s a lot of interest in Carolina Hurricanes winger Michael Ferland. Like Simmonds, Ferland is slated to become a UFA in July.

Friedman thinks Ferland is more likely to be traded, but with the Hurricanes playing themselves back into the playoff chase, he wondered how that could affect the winger’s situation. The two sides are reportedly not close to a new contract. Friedman suggested the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins and perhaps even the Vancouver Canucks could be among the clubs with interest in Ferland. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If any of those clubs pursue Ferland they better be prepared to shell out a lot of bucks if they intend to re-sign him. Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos last weekend reported he’s seeking a deal comparable to Tom Wilson’s six-year, $31-million contract with the Washington Capitals.

Pierre Lebrun speculated the asking price could be a first-round pick and a prospect, but I think Hurricanes GM Don Waddell must get more than that if he’s planning to move a player he acquired less than a year ago. I can see Ferland getting swapped straight up for a young forward with upside who can help the Hurricanes now and in the future. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe reports center Derick Brassard continues to struggle with the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly a year after they acquired him from the Ottawa Senators. General manager Jim Rutherford remains mystified by Brassard’s performance, acknowledging the center “for whatever reason” has underperformed. 

Brassard is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Yohe feels Rutherford can either retain Brassard for the rest of the season in hopes he’ll finally regain his form or package him with one of their surplus defensemen in return for a third-line center. The Penguins will have nine defensemen once Justin Schultz returns from a broken leg in the near future. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: With the Penguins re-signing goaltender Casey DeSmith last week, Jason Mackey speculates young goalie Tristan Jarry could become a trade candidate. Mackey said several teams have inquired about Jarry. As for which defenseman Rutherford could move, Mackey suggests Jamie Oleksiak seems most likely to go as that move would free up over $2 million in salary-cap space. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a reputation as an in-season wheeler-dealer. He’s already made two trades this season, shipping Carl Hagelin to Los Angeles for Tanner Pearson and Daniel Sprong to Anaheim for Marcus Pettersson.

As Mackey speculated, Rutherford could be shopping a promising young goalie, a big, physical third-pairing defenseman and perhaps a veteran forward in Brassard. Those assets could bring in a skilled two-way forward as a rental or someone with term remaining on their contract. 


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs might be willing to include their first-round pick in the right package for a top-four defenseman. Don’t expect that package to include Leafs blueliner Jake Gardiner, as Darren Dreger reports the target of Toronto boo-birds won’t be going anywhere by the trade deadline. The club will consider re-signing Gardiner, who’s slated to become a UFA this summer, though he could command over $6 million per season if he reaches 50 points again this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like him or not, Leafs fans, Gardiner will still be patrolling Toronto’s blueline after Feb. 25, though it seems unlikely they can afford to keep him off the UFA market. The Leafs have stockpiled plenty of young talent so they can afford to part with their first-rounder this year, but they might have to package him with someone like Kaspari Kapanen to land a right-side top-four defenseman.