Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat surfaced in recent Canucks trade speculation PLUS some musing over whether the Avalanche should acquire Evander Kane in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BOESER, HORVAT POP UP IN CANUCKS RUMORS
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser topped Jimmy Murphy’s recent list of popular names floating in the NHL rumor mill. He said Boeser was rumored to be available around the time of this summer’s draft and free-agent period.
Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (NHL Images).
Other forwards believed available are the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome and the Arizona Coyotes’ Phil Kessel. Defensemen include the Buffalo Sabres’ Will Butcher, the Los Angeles Kings’ Olli Maatta and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Brayden McNabb.
THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported on Sportsnet 650 that the Canucks are fielding plenty of trade calls, with the bulk of those focused on center Bo Horvat. The 26-year-old Canucks captain is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023 and lacks no-trade protection. Dhaliwal doesn’t see Horvat sticking around if the Canucks start rebuilding.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: First it was the Wild reportedly calling about J.T. Miller, then Boeser and now Horvat. Before long we’ll probably hear rumors of clubs calling about Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko. That’s the way it is when a team is struggling like the Canucks. As one pundit put it, the vultures start circling hoping to steal away a good player.
The uncertainty surrounding the Canucks right now also stirs up the rumors. Everyone’s anticipating a change of management or a new coach or perhaps a trade involving a core player. The longer the losing goes on and the more the Canucks sink in the standings the more the pressure and anticipation ratchet up.
Dater acknowledged Kane’s serious personal baggage and the risks involved. However, he also pointed out that big, physical 20-goal scorers aren’t easy to find. Given his $7 million cap hit, it would make more sense to acquire him via trade as the Sharks are reportedly willing to retain half of his annual average value.
THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Dhaliwal yesterday reported the Sharks are working on trading Kane and are willing to absorb half of the winger’s salary to facilitate a deal. He also indicated Kane’s agent is reaching out to teams, including the Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Avalanche maxed out for cap space. Assuming general manager Joe Sakic was interested in Kane (which I doubt), the deal would have to be dollar-for-dollar. Otherwise, a third team would have to get involved to help the Avs shed sufficient salary, or Sakic would have to make a separate cost-cutting move.
I really don’t see the Canucks getting involved in Kane. They’ve got enough problems without adding a PR nightmare into the mix.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported Saturday there was an Eastern Conference club quite interested in Kane. We’ll find out soon enough if there’s a deal to be made there.
An Eastern Conference club could have interest in Evander Kane, the Hurricanes express interest in the Stars’ John Klingberg, and the latest on the Canucks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
EASTERN CONFERENCE CLUB INTERESTED IN EVANDER KANE
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports of “credible chatter” claiming an Eastern Conference team could be interested in acquiring Evander Kane from the San Jose Sharks after the 30-year-old winger’s 21-game suspension for violating NHL COVID protocols ends on Nov. 30. Brooks was quick to point out the New York Rangers are not interested in Kane.
San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).
Kane has been dealing with considerable off-ice drama this season involving bankruptcy and a messy divorce. He’s also alienated many of his Sharks teammates. While he apologized for his “mistake” of falsifying his vaccination status, it’s uncertain if he’s been vaccinated for COVID-19.
The Sharks are reportedly willing to retain up to half of Kane’s $7 million annual average value through 2024-25. While his offensive skills would make him a good fit among a club’s top-six forwards, his personal baggage could prove an unwelcome distraction and a PR problem.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng speculated over which Eastern club would be interested in taking Kane off the Sharks’ hands.
One could be the Carolina Hurricanes given their offseason signing of Tony DeAngelo despite his recent history of disciplinary issues. It could be a “culture-strong” franchise like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins with veteran leadership that Kane would immediately respect. Peng also wondered if the Florida Panthers might be interested given Joe Thornton’s close relationship with Kane when Thornton was still with the Sharks.
Peng said his sources still consider a Kane trade unlikely unless the Sharks also sweeten the pot by adding first-round picks or agree to take a bad contract in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peng makes a good point about Kane perhaps fitting in on a club with veterans he looks up to. That was the case in his first couple of years with the Sharks when Thornton and Joe Pavelski were still with the franchise.
Kane wouldn’t be able to get away with any nonsense playing for the Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour. He could also straighten up playing with the Lightning, Capitals and Penguins or by being reunited with Thornton on the Panthers. The question remains whether any of them are willing to take the chance.
Klingberg is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He seeks an eight-year extension worth in the mid-$60 million range from the Stars.
Marek said the Stars don’t want to trade Klingberg right now because they have playoff aspirations of their own. However, that hasn’t stopped teams from calling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out the Stars and Klingberg agreeing to an extension before the trade deadline. They could also keep him as an “own rental” if he’s still unsigned and they’re in playoff contention by the March 21 trade deadline. Still, this situation could be worth following if the Stars fall out of the playoff chase and Klingberg hasn’t signed a new contract leading up to deadline day.
As Marek observed, the Hurricanes aren’t afraid to make bold moves. They were reportedly among the club’s interested in Jack Eichel, their gamble on Tony DeAngelo appears to be working out and they successfully offer-sheeted Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re monitoring Klingberg’s situation. For that matter, it wouldn’t be shocking if they acquired Evander Kane.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks had permission from the Montreal Canadiens to speak to Claude Julien about their head-coach job. They’ve also talked about Scott Walker for that role. However, he doesn’t think they’re going down that road for either guy. He said the Canucks are considering some options but nothing long-term until they’re convinced they have the right person or people for those jobs.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance considers it an open secret that the Canucks are looking for a replacement for head coach Travis Green. However, it considers it “enormously telling” if the Julien or Walker routes are closed off to them. It could also be indicative that general manager Jim Benning could be running out of room to maneuver.
Harman Dayal recently indicated his belief the Canucks aren’t actively shopping forward J.T. Miller, especially if the club remains in “win-now” mode. His versatility and physical style provides them with some much-needed flexibility and bite.
However, the Canucks must consider if Miller is willing to sign a contract extension and whether it would be worth the high price to sign him. They must also consider if they can still build a winner during the Miller-Bo Horvat window or if a retool would be a better option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks and Montreal Canadiens have been jockeying for this season’s dubious honor of Canada’s most dysfunctional team.
At least the Canadiens seem to be making some progress with the reports they could bring in former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton as a potential president of hockey operations. The Canucks front office, meanwhile, still seem stubbornly resistant to doing anything significant to shake things up. Granted, it’s worthwhile not to be too hasty and risk making a mistake but at some point, they have to act.
Miller probably won’t be traded this season but I can see his role and those of every player on the Canucks being evaluated by a new general manager in the offseason. That’s assuming ownership finally runs out of patience with Benning by that point and finds a suitable replacement by then.
Rosen likes the idea of Smith as he’s more versatile than Kessel and previously played for Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant. The Golden Knights will need to shed salary to make room for recently-acquired Jack Eichel when he returns to action from neck surgery in February.
The Rangers don’t have to rush into finding a winger for Zibanejad and Kreider. They’re winning games while using the time to determine what they have in young forwards Julian Gauthier, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those young forwards could improve in the coming weeks to the point where the Rangers won’t need to pursue a top-six winger. If not, they’ll go shopping for one leading up to the March 21 trade deadline, maybe for Kessel, Smith, or whoever else could be useful to them at a reasonable price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens aren’t in any position financially to pursue any of next summer’s noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Cap Friendly shows them with a projected $84.8 million invested in just 14 players for 2022-23. They’ll get some cap relief if Shea Weber ($7.857 million annual average value) remains on long-term injury reserve, but they’ll still have to shed considerably more to free up cap space to fill out the remainder of their roster.
The Canadiens’ poor performance this season and the fishbowl existence for Habs players in Montreal won’t be enticing to any of next summer’s notable UFAs. It’s a pipe dream. Moving on…
St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).
Despite rumors suggesting Tarasenko’s had a change of heart, Rutherford cited a source close to the situation saying the winger is standing by his trade request. Regarding Tarasenko’s return to form (16 points in 19 games) improving his trade value, Rutherford said it’s not enough to convince Blues general manager Doug Armstrong to move him before the March trade deadline “or even next summer”.
Rutherford also observed Tarasenko continues to blend well with his teammates. His situation hasn’t become a distraction.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that changes if the Blues fall out of playoff contention before the trade deadline. For now, there’s little reason for Armstrong to trade him until he gets a worthwhile offer.
Tarasenko’s contract is also a sticking point. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million but earns $9.5 million in actual salary this season and $5.5 million next season. That’s why I think a Tarasenko trade is more likely to take place next summer, as interested clubs would prefer taking on that lesser actual salary.
Rutherford was also asked about what the Blues might do with Marco Scandella. He knows they’re “pretty disappointed” the defenseman hasn’t become the player they thought they were signing. He believes they’ll try to trade Scandella but the remaining two years on his contract ($3.75 million annual cap hit) won’t be easy to move.
EXCERPTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman commented on the latest trade speculation swirling around the Minnesota Wild’s Kevin Fiala. He doesn’t believe GM Bill Guerin will trade the 25-year-old winger just because he’s in a slump. With the Wild on top of the Central Division, Friedman feels Guerin would trade Fiala only for a return that improves his club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala was mentioned as a possible trade chip for the Wild to pry versatile forward J.T. Miller away from the free-falling Vancouver Canucks. Time will tell if anything comes of that. Fiala could get peddled elsewhere or Guerin would remain patient with the winger in the hope he’ll regain his scoring form.
Friedman indicated Evander Kane has been skating in San Jose for the past two weeks. The Sharks are keeping mum on the 30-year-old winger’s status as the end of his 21-game suspension approaches. Friedman theorizes they could send him to the AHL for a few games. He also said the club is willing to retain some of Kane’s salary in a trade but doesn’t see much of a market for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt there’s any market for Kane given his personal baggage and reputation as a dressing room cancer.
Friedman believes the Buffalo Sabres have to be looking for a goaltender with Aaron Dell and Dustin Tokarski struggling and sidelined Craig Anderson’s return date still uncertain. With so many teams still in the playoff picture, he wonders how many of them would make any goalies available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could be keeping an eye on the Dallas Stars. They could be forced to shop a goaltender whenever Ben Bishop is finally ready to return to action. That, however, remains up in the air.
With Jake Oettinger playing well, they could also try to move Anton Khudobin or Braden Holtby. Khudobin, however, has a four-team no-trade list and the Sabres could be on it. Holtby lacks no-trade protection but he’s also played better than Khudobin.
A look at possible Canucks trade candidates plus the latest Stars speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: With trade rumors swirling about the Vancouver Canucks, Thomas Drance looked at which players are likely to become trade candidates if management decides to shake things up or being overhauling the roster.
Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).
Drance believes J.T. Miller’s competitive style, experience and versatility would interest clubs in “win-now” mode. He said there are teams monitoring the Canucks fortunes with Miller’s short-term future in mind, including the Minnesota Wild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller, 30, is also signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.25 million and lacking no-trade protection. However, his agent told Drance’s colleague Rick Dhaliwal they haven’t had any conversations with Canucks management about trades.
Drance also addressed recent speculation about Canucks winger Brock Boeser. While acknowledging the 24-year-old winger’s talent as a sniper, he felt Boeser’s $7.5 million in actual salary this season is too expensive for most clubs in a flat-cap era. He’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal also reported Boeser’s agent said he doesn’t believe his client will be traded but he’s aware it could happen. He said Brock has faith in the Canucks team and his teammates to get through their struggles.
Players slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer, such as Jaroslav Halak and Tyler Motte, are the most likely to be moved if the Canucks become sellers by the March trade deadline.
Drance also suggested Micheal Ferland’s permanent long-term injury reserve status could have some value for cap-strapped clubs seeking creative solutions. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of moving players like Travis Hamonic, Jason Dickinson and Tanner Pearson who still have term on their contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could surprise by moving one of their talented core players. However, I think Drance’s assessment is spot on and I recommend reading the entire piece if you have a subscription to The Athletic.
A rival club could make an offer for someone like Miller or Boeser before the trade deadline that’s too good for general manager Jim Benning (or his replacement?) to pass up. Still, it could be difficult to put that type of deal together during the season.
With three goalies on the roster, the Stars don’t have enough cap space to call up any extra forwards or defensemen. DeFranks indicated they could trade Holtby ($2 million) or Khudobin ($3.33 million) but that would deplete depth between the pipes as sidelined starter Ben Bishop’s status remains unclear.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars signed Holtby not because they lacked confidence in Oettinger but rather they wanted him to get a little more seasoning in the AHL before bringing him into the roster on a full-time basis. His performance this season shows his effort in the shortened 2020-21 campaign was no fluke.
Oettinger remains waiver-exempt so the Stars can send him down to their AHL affiliate once Holtby returns from his lower-body injury. Trading Holtby or Khudobin, however, would be an easier way to address this. The uncertainty over Bishop, however, remains a nagging issue. He’s reportedly eligible to come off LTIR but still isn’t physically ready to play.
The Stars shouldn’t have much difficulty moving Holtby or Khudobin if they go that route later in the season. There are already some clubs (hello there, Buffalo Sabres) in need of experienced goalie depth who could come calling.
The Sharks are reportedly willing to retain salary to move Evander Kane, Golden Knights forward Mattias Janmark could become a trade candidate plus the latest Coyotes speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Appearing on the Jeff Marek Show on Tuesday, Friedman said the Sharks have let it be known they’re willing to retain some salary if a deal for Kane could be worked out. “I don’t know who’s going to trade for him right now,” he said. “I just don’t know where that is at this particular point in time or even if that’s realistic.”
Peng pointed out Kane has four years and $28 million remaining on his contract. He’s currently serving a 21-game suspension for unspecified COVID-19 protocol violations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane has a well-documented recent history of financial and domestic problems this year as well as clashing with several teammates. The Sharks tried shopping him during the offseason but found no takers.
Kane was the Sharks leading scorer last season. Nevertheless, his personal baggage and reportedly toxic dressing-room presence make him pretty much untradeable even if the Sharks were willing to retain up to half of his $7 million annual average value.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps recently mused over Mattias Janmark’s future with the Vegas Golden Knights. Signed to a one-year, $2-million contract by Vegas, he’s had a slow start to the season in part because of injury.
Krepps speculated Janmark could become a trade candidate later in the season even if his play improves. The Golden Knights are projected to be over the salary cap by $7 million when Jack Eichel returns from neck surgery later this season. They could be willing to part with Janmark to clear some cap room before Eichel joins the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Janmark isn’t in any danger of moving at this point in the season but his status could be worth monitoring following the February Olympic break. That’s when Eichel could be ready to make his Vegas debut.
Janmark could surface in the rumor mill leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. His affordable cap hit, versatility and postseason experience would make him enticing for playoff contenders.
GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked if the Arizona Coyotes were looking into acquiring Los Angeles Kings center Gabriel Vilardi or New York Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov. He said he hasn’t heard of any interest in either player on the Coyotes’ part, adding a source in Los Angeles said Vilardi’s trade value is too low right now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will be sellers at the trade deadline as general manager Bill Armstrong looks to stock up further on draft picks and prospects for his rebuilding club. Kessel, Larsson and Crouse are unrestricted free agents while Gostisbehere has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.5 million.
Kessel’s playoff experience will draw interest from playoff clubs seeking to bolster their scoring punch up front. Gostisbehere, meanwhile, is the Coyotes’ leading scorer with 14 points in 19 games. That extra year on his contract could make him enticing for clubs seeking a puck-moving blueliner they can retain beyond this season.