NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2024

Could the Bruins trade a goalie to address other roster needs? Who could be possible trade targets for the Golden Knights? What’s going on with Marc-Andre Fleury, Casey Mittelstadt and Vladimir Tarasenko? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited TNT NHL analyst Paul Bissonnette suggesting the Bruins trade one of their goaltenders to address their need for a center. He believes they should move Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman to bring in a top-two center and move Charlie Coyle back to third-line center duty.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also thinks the Bruins will have to move someone off their roster if they wish to add to their lineup. He thinks people are looking at Ullmark as a trade candidate. He doesn’t think moving the 2023 Vezina Trophy winner is impossible but wondered if it’s a good idea to sacrifice one of their greatest strengths. He felt the only reason to do it is if they can get something so good that they have to do so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A few things to remember here.

First, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said earlier this season when Ullmark popped up in the rumor mill that it was necessary to keep his goalie tandem intact because they would help keep the Bruins competitive. I don’t doubt that teams might be calling Sweeney about Ullmark or Swayman but that doesn’t mean he’s peddling one of them.

Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (NHL Images).

Second, Ullmark has a 16-team no-trade clause and loves playing in Boston. He also carries a $5 million cap hit through 2024-25 and that’s not easy to move in a season with so many teams carrying limited cap room.

Third, when was the last time you saw a goaltender (even a former Vezina winner) get traded for a first or second-line center in the salary cap era? Goalies rarely fetch big returns in trades.

And finally, which first or second-line center is currently available in the trade market? The depth of talent is so thin that third-liner Adam Henrique is considered by experts and insiders to be the best one on the market. No disrespect to Henrique, but he’s not worth Ullmark or Swayman.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know that sometimes a shocking move can take place that no one saw coming. Maybe the Bruins might be able to find that kind of deal leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. But if you recall what we’ve seen in previous trade deadlines over the years, something of that magnitude hasn’t happened in a long time.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa is concerned about what the Bruins will do if it appears that defenseman Hampus Lindholm could be sidelined beyond the trade deadline. Replacing the minute-munching blueliner could prove a big challenge for Sweeney.

Shinzawa believes the Bruins would love to acquire local boy Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames. However, he doubts they have sufficient trade assets to tempt the Flames.

The Bruins lack picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft while promising Matt Poitras is out for the season recovering from shoulder surgery. They also don’t have sufficient cap space to take on Hanifin’s $4.95 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take some savvy horsetrading on Sweeney’s part to pull off a trade deadline deal for Hanifin. Maybe he can get a third team involved but his lack of tradeable assets makes that scenario seem unlikely.

A LOOK AT SOME POSSIBLE TRADE OPTIONS FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: With captain Mark Stone sidelined for perhaps the rest of the regular season, Ben Gotz looked at several possible trade options to replace the 31-year-old winger before the March 8 trade deadline if they place him on long-term injury reserve.

Among the most notable are St. Louis’ Pavel Buchnevich, Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel, and Seattle’s Jordan Eberle.

Others include former Golden Knight Reilly Smith (now with the Penguins), Arizona’s Jason Zucker, San Jose’s Anthony Duclair or Mikael Granlund, Washington’s Anthony Mantha, Ottawa’s Vladimir Tarasenko, and Anaheim’s Frank Vatrano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich or Guentzel are the best options talent-wise. With Stone on LTIR the Golden Knights could afford their cap hits but the asking prices for those guys are probably well out of their reach. They might have to consider more affordable options in terms of return.

FLEURY NOT ASKING FOR A TRADE

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is not looking for a trade. He would rather stick with the club while they’re battling for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Fleury has a full no-movement clause. Matheson wondered if Wild GM Bill Guerin would approach him about a trade if a Cup contender like the Colorado Avalanche came calling. However, Fleury already has three Cup rings and would have to discuss any move with his family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer the Wild remain in the playoff chase the less likely Fleury will be traded. He could always change his mind but he seems set on finishing this season in Minnesota.

TEAMS STILL INTERESTED IN MITTELSTADT

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Michael Augello cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussing Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt. They claimed that a lot of teams were watching the 25-year-old Mittelstadt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams might be watching Mittelstadt but Sabres GM Kevyn Adams recently denied rumors that he was shopping his leading scorer. Adams also said he intended to get him signed to a new contract following this season. Unless someone makes the Sabres a mind-blowing offer, Mittelstadt will still be in Buffalo when the trade deadline is over.

UPDATE ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch recently reported the Senators remain interested in Flames defenseman Chris Tanev. However, the Flames need to trade Noah Hanifin before they deal with the 34-year-old Tanev. Garrioch believes if a deal with the Senators for Tanev was possible it would’ve happened by now. He mentions the possibility of signing him as a free agent in July.

Most of the Senators’ trade discussions involve pending free-agent Vladimir Tarasenko. He has a full no-movement clause but it’s thought that four or five teams have expressed interest in the 32-year-old winger. It’s believed the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers could be among the suitors. The Senators could get a better return if they retain part of his $5 million cap hit.

Pending UFA winger Dominik Kubalik has also drawn some interest but he’s been in the market for a couple of months. The Sens might also have to retain some of his $2.5 million cap hit.

Jakob Chychrun’s name has also surfaced in the rumor mill but the asking price is believed to be high. Some wonder if they should move a core player like Josh Norris, who carries a $7.95 million cap hit but has struggled to score in recent games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko and perhaps Kubalik will be playing elsewhere by March 8. Chychrun and Norris aren’t going anywhere unless someone makes a ridiculous offer for either guy.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

Teams are expressing interest in Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich, the Canadiens inquired about Ducks forward Trevor Zegras, the Golden Knights could get busy in the trade market if Mark Stone is sidelined long-term, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

BLUES ARE GETTING CALLS ABOUT BUCHNEVICH

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a league source claims the St. Louis Blues are getting calls about Pavel Buchnevich. General manager Doug Armstrong is listening but he’s not shopping the 28-year-old winger, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.8 million. Buchnevich also carries a 12-team no-trade clause.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich (NHL Images)

Rutherford’s source believes it would take a substantial offer for Armstrong to consider moving Buchnevich. Still, teams are operating on the premise that it’s possible to acquire him. With so little high-quality talent in this year’s trade market, Buchnevich could have a much higher value.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson indicates the Oilers have been scouting the Blues. He believes they’re looking at Buchnevich as a second-line winger option. Matheson believes the cost to acquire him could be comparable to what the Oilers gave up in last year’s Mattias Ekholm trade (a first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and a prospect).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are currently battling for a wild-card spot. Armstrong could be reluctant to part with one of his best forwards while his club remains in the playoff chase.

Buchnevich has another year left on his contract which means Armstrong is under no pressure to move him at the deadline. If he doesn’t get any suitable offers, he’ll wait until the offseason.

I think it’ll take more than a couple of draft picks and a prospect to get Buchnevich. The Blues are retooling rather than rebuilding their roster. They’ll want something that helps them now and in the future, and that likely means a good young NHL player as the centerpiece of the return.

CANADIENS CALLED ABOUT ZEGRAS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont cited TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently reporting that the Anaheim Ducks were casually taking calls about Trevor Zegras. LeBrun also confirmed the Montreal Canadiens were among the callers. He indicated the Ducks haven’t been calling around mentioning Zegras but rather it’s other teams making inquiries.

Dumont doubted that a Zegras trade would come to fruition by the March 8 deadline. However, the young Ducks forward could be a name worth keeping in mind for the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on this report, the Ducks aren’t shopping Zegras and no one’s made an offer for him. Like Dumont, I don’t expect the 22-year-old forward to be on the move by March 8 but this could be something that carries over into the offseason.

Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has mentioned he’d like to add more scoring to his roster. He has the depth in draft picks, prospects and promising youngsters to make a competitive bid for Zegras if he becomes available. The youngster’s dazzling offensive abilities would be a big boost to the Canadiens scoring lines while his age makes him a good fit alongside their other young players.

However, there would be some concerns here. One is Zegras’ poor defensive play, though that can be improved with time and maturity on his part.

Another is whether he can handle the intense pressure of playing in a major hockey market. Zegras hasn’t faced the kind of media and fan scrutiny in Anaheim that he would have to endure in Montreal playing for a storied franchise like the Canadiens. Some players have handled it well while others have wilted under that harsh spotlight.

Finally, there’s the asking price. You’re not getting Zegras for a bunch of mid-range picks, second-tier prospects, and veterans or castoffs. The Ducks will want a significant return such as a first-round pick (Montreal’s 2024 without any top-10 protection), a top prospect (hello there, Lane Hutson) and a good young NHL player. Hughes has a reputation as a tough negotiator but so is Ducks GM Pat Verbeek.

STONE INJURY COULD SEND VEGAS INTO THE TRADE MARKET

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could go shopping for help if captain Mark Stone ends up on long-term injury reserve for the rest of this season. Stone is currently listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury and they’ll reevaluate him near the March 8 trade deadline.

Dreger said losing a heart-and-soul player like Stone hurts the Golden Knights. However, they’ll do everything they can to backfill on the trade front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights did the same thing last season when Stone went on long-term injury reserve following back surgery. He carries an average annual value of $9.5 million, so placing him on LTIR will give them considerable cap relief. It could make them a major player in the trade market leading up to March 8.

DEVILS REJECTED OFFERS FOR MERCER

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying some teams that have been speaking with the Devils have asked about the availability of Dawson Mercer. However, they told those clubs that the 22-year-old forward is not available.

CAPITALS COULD BECOME TRADE-DEADLINE SELLERS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they haven’t made any progress in the standings by the trade deadline. Trade candidates would include pending free agents such as Anthony Mantha, Max Pacioretty and Joel Edmundson.

FLYERS IN CONTRACT EXTENSION TALKS WITH SEELER

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are engaged in contract extension talks with Nick Seeler. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and was a frequent fixture in trade rumors this season involving the Flyers.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 22, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 22, 2024

Check out the latest on the Penguins, Panthers and Avalanche plus updates on Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Juuse Saros, Pavel Buchnevich and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas said his club’s performance over the next couple of weeks would determine his plans for the March 8 trade deadline.

Dubas made it sound as though Jake Guentzel might not be with the Penguins for much longer. The 29-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, sparking speculation he could be moved at the trade deadline if the Penguins remain out of playoff contention.

The Penguins GM said he understands how valuable Guentzel is as a teammate and to the community. However, he also pointed out that the Penguins need to get younger, noting they have several players over 30 on long-term contracts.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports there are teams that believe the Penguins will take another run at re-signing Guentzel, suggesting perhaps team captain Sidney Crosby might use his influence in this situation.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

Friedman also noted that there are teams interested in Guentzel who want to know if they can talk to him about a contract extension before agreeing to a trade. That would hurt a team like the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve been linked to Guentzel but have limited salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Guentzel situation remains the same: Dubas could retain him for the rest of the season if they’re in a playoff spot by the trade deadline but could move him if they’re not. Looking at where the Penguins are now in the standings, it’s getting to the point where Guentzel could be moved by March 8 if a club makes a solid offer.

As for attempting to re-sign Guentzel, Kingerski noted that the Penguins GM didn’t mention contract extension talks during his press conference yesterday.

Kingerski and Friedman also noted that Dubas said he attempted to shake up his roster with a trade several weeks ago. However, the opportunities to do so weren’t there. He also indicated that he didn’t want to move his draft capital to bolster the roster, though he would consider doing so if it brought in young NHL-ready players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN yesterday reported Dubas was willing to entertain offers for anyone except Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. Kingerski pointed out that the Penguins have 13 players carrying no-movement or no-trade clauses. Those clauses likely hampered Dubas’ efforts to make a trade to shake up his roster.

Friedman also mused about whether the Ottawa Senators might consider bringing back Erik Karlsson from the Penguins and reuniting him with former teammate turned assistant coach Daniel Alfredsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman indicated that isn’t based on anything he’s heard but is something he’s just musing over. I don’t see it happening. Karlsson loved Ottawa and still maintains a residence there but I think the new ownership and management have plans that don’t include the former Senators defenseman.

Friedman also wondered about Penguins winger Reilly Smith returning to the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith spent two seasons with the Panthers before joining the Vegas Golden Knights. Panthers GM Bill Zito would like to add a top-nine forward but he noted that they don’t come cheap.

The Panthers lack a first-round pick in the 2024 and 2025 drafts and they don’t have a second-rounder in this year’s draft. Unless Zito is willing to part with some prospects, Smith probably won’t be returning to Florida.

MORE “32 THOUGHTS” RUMOR TIDBITS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman indicated that there’s no official confirmation yet that Calgary Flames defenseman Hanifin is going to the free-agent market but that’s where it’s headed.

He doubted the Tampa Bay Lightning could put together a suitable package to entice the Flames into parting with Hanifin. He also noted that the Toronto Maple Leafs made a pitch and would like to know if they can sign him but he appears headed to an American club on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs would also be hard-pressed to put together an enticing offer for Hanifin. They could pitch their 2024 first-round pick but if they’re not willing to part with a top prospect they’re unlikely to outbid other clubs.

Speaking of Hanifin, Friedman recently speculated the Panthers could be among the suitors. Based on Zito’s comments regarding the expense of landing a top-nine forward, I don’t like their chances of getting the Flames defenseman.

The Dallas Stars, Oilers, Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche have an interest or have had an interest in Flames blueliner Chris Tanev. The Flames seek a first-rounder or something comparable.

Some folks believe there’s a 50-50 chance that Juuse Saros stays with the Nashville Predators. Speaking of the Predators, center Tommy Novak is a UFA this summer and he could draw interest if they can’t re-sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros is signed through next season so there’s no rush to move him by the trade deadline, especially when the Predators are jockeying for a wild-card berth. A summer move seems more likely if they can’t work out a contract extension.

The St. Louis Blues have set an asking price of “two firsts or something like it” for winger Pavel Buchnevich, who has a year remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Predators with Saros, the Blues could be reluctant to move Buchnevich while they’re still battling for a wild-card spot.

Canadiens defenseman David Savard doesn’t wish to leave Montreal. Meanwhile, teams have asked Buffalo about Alex Tuch but the Sabres value him.

The Colorado Avalanche’s search for a center could have them eyeing Arizona Coyotes’ Nick Bjugstad, former Av Alex Kerfoot or Michael Carcone.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 21, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 21, 2024

The latest on Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, the Penguins are listening to offers for non-core players and the Rangers are interested in Kraken forward Alex Wennberg. Get the details on these and rumors involving several other teams in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON HANIFIN

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Calgary Flames might make another push to sign Noah Hanifin to a contract extension. However, it seems likely that the 27-year-old defenseman will be traded. He’s got an eight-team no-trade clause and they’re not all Canadian teams.

Nevertheless, Johnston believes Hanifin will end up with a US-based team because it’s believed his preference is to sign with an American club. He singled out the Tampa Bay Lightning as a possible destination.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have the cap space to pursue Hanifin with Mikhail Sergachev on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) for the remainder of the regular season. The Flames’ asking price for Hanifin will likely start with a first-round pick but the Lightning don’t have any first-rounders in this year’s or next year’s drafts. Their prospect pool is also shallow, ranked 29th by The Athletic.

PENGUINS LISTENING TO OFFERS FOR NON-CORE PLAYERS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas is entertaining offers on pretty much everyone except his core players. One of them is winger Reilly Smith, who has a year remaining on his contract with a $5 million cap hit. He won a Stanley Cup last season with the Vegas Golden Knights and that experience could intrigue a few contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sidelined winger Jake Guentzel is among the Penguins’ core. He’s been dogged by trade rumors for weeks amid speculation that Dubas could also re-sign him. Perhaps this report means Dubas still intends on re-signing him? Stay tuned…

RANGERS INTERESTED IN WENNBERG

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports sources claim the Rangers are looking at Seattle Kraken forward Alex Wennberg to fill their third-line center position. The 29-year-old Wennberg is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and carries a $4.5 million cap hit for this season.

Brooks cited Wennberg’s playoff experience, his skating ability and his 200-foot game among the reasons behind the Rangers’ interest in him. He also noted the Boston Bruins have been linked to the Kraken center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken are just three points out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference so they’re probably not sellers right now. That could change if they fail to gain ground in the standings over the next couple of weeks.

UPDATE ON THE BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC: While the Blue Jackets are in the process of finding a new general manager, Aaron Portzline reports interim GM John Davidson is focused on the upcoming NHL trade deadline.

The Jackets won’t trade their prospects nor is team captain Boone Jenner available. Jack Roslovic is their one prominent pending UFA. Portzline estimates his trade value as being worth a late-round draft pick or a distant prospect.

There was speculation defenseman Ivan Provorov could be a trade candidate to make room for promising Denton Mateychuk on their blueline. However, Davidson said Mateychuk must earn a roster spot in training camp. Nevertheless, Portzline believes Provorov could be moved if the right phone call is made.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Provorov could be moved if someone pitches a first-round pick or a high-quality young player. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s still with the Jackets after March 8.

NOTABLE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM TSN’S INSIDERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Ottawa Senators want to do something bigger but must wait for the trade market to establish itself…The Edmonton Oilers would ideally like to add a top-six forward to Leon Draisaitl’s line. However, they’re also eyeing the Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique as a third-line center…The Dallas Stars would like to add a right-shot defenseman as could the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils. Speaking of the Devils, they’re also looking for a goaltender and kicking tires on forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $2.3 million in trade deadline cap space. It could make it difficult to add Henrique even if the Ducks retain half of his $5.8 million cap hit…With Vitek Vanecek on injured reserve, the Devils’ need for help between the pipes should be their priority if they hope to nail down a wild-card spot.

Pierre LeBrun believes the Florida Panthers want to add to their roster before the trade deadline. They’ll have around $5 million in accrued cap space by deadline day to add a top-nine forward but they lack first-round picks in 2024 and 2025 to use as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They also lack a second-rounder in this year’s draft. The Athletic recently ranked their prospect pool at No. 24 but they’ll likely have to dip into it if they intend to be buyers this year.

Chris Johnston believes the Arizona Coyotes will once again look to load up with draft picks at this year’s trade deadline. They’re looking to move pending UFAs such as Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have 13 picks in this year’s draft, 11 in next year’s draft and 10 in 2026. 10 of those are second-rounders, seven are third-rounders and four are fourth-round picks. However, they only have one first-rounder in each of those drafts.

PROPOSED DESTINATIONS FOR THE CAPITALS’ NIC DOWD

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber recently suggested the New York Rangers could be a good fit for Nic Dowd if the Washington Capitals put him on the trade block. She also cited Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation suggesting the Edmonton Oilers as a fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Part of what makes Dowd enticing in the trade market is his contract. The 33-year-old checking-line center carries an affordable $1.3 million annual average value through next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2024

Check out the latest on the Hurricanes, Sharks, Sabres and Canadiens in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE HURRICANES AREN’T INTERESTED IN RENTAL PLAYERS

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes will be buyers by the March 8 trade deadline. However, general manager Don Waddell said he’s not interested in adding players on expiring contracts.

Our first priority, if we’re giving up premium picks or top prospects, we want to make sure that we get a player for more than a few months”, Waddell told LeBrun. He added that they’re aren’t many non-rental players in the market as most trade candidates are slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Contrary to popular belief, Waddell said he’s not looking to add a goaltender. He pointed out that sidelined netminder Frederik Andersen will be returning soon while Pyotr Kochetkov’s performance has been solid this season. He’s also comfortable with his blueline depth.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL.com).

Waddell would like to add a top-nine forward or two. LeBrun speculates it might be a forward with term remaining on their contract whose name hasn’t yet surfaced in the rumor mill. He suspects that the Hurricanes GM has inquired about winger Travis Konecny but doesn’t think the Philadelphia Flyers intend to move him, especially after recently naming him an alternate captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes currently have over $6.6 million in trade deadline cap space so they’ve got the room to add a forward or two. They also have all their picks in this year’s draft along with the Flyers’ second-rounder to draw on for trade bait if necessary.

COULD THE SHARKS ATTEMPT TO TRADE LOGAN COUTURE THIS SUMMER?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller noted there is speculation suggesting if the San Jose Sharks are going to trade Logan Couture, it won’t happen until the offseason. Couture, 34, is sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury that has plagued him since last summer, limiting him to just six games.

With the Sharks near the bottom of the NHL standings, they are expected to be sellers by the March 8 trade deadline. Couture is signed through 2026-27 with an average annual value of $8 million and a three-team trade list.

Miller cited The Fourth Period’s Dave Pagnotta claiming Couture could be sidelined for the rest of the season. “If a move happens, it’s more likely to occur in the off-season,” he writes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couture would be almost impossible to move in-season under normal circumstances because of his contract. If he’s out for the rest of this season there will be a genuine concern that his condition could end his career. That will make it more difficult to trade Couture during this summer.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked if the Sabres can expect any changes before the upcoming trade deadline. He believed contenders would ask about pending free agents such as Erik Johnson, Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons. Lysowski also felt that Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will try to get a head start on finding players for next season like he did last year by acquiring Jordan Greenway from the Minnesota Wild.

If Johnson is traded, Lysowski speculated Adams will try to add another defenseman who could be part of the roster for next season, preferably a top-four blueliner. He also thinks the Sabres GM will open contract extension talks with Casey Mittelstadt’s agent. Lysowski doesn’t see them trading Mittelstadt or forwards Dylan Cozens, Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka, Tage Thompson or Alex Tuch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt recently surfaced as a trade candidate in the rumor mill. However, Adams was insistent in an interview last week that he wasn’t shopping the 25-year-old center and intends to re-sign him.

COULD THE CANADIENS TRADE DAVID SAVARD?

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu noted that Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes recently said he’s not shopping David Savard. However, Basu believes he’s listening to offers. He believes the market for a shot-blocking, right-shot defenseman like Savard will open up once the Calgary Flames trade Chris Tanev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard, 33, is signed through next season with an AAV of $3.5 million. He also lacks no-trade protection.

I don’t doubt that Hughes will listen to trade offers for Savard. As we’ve seen, however, he sets a high price for his players and usually won’t budge until someone meets it. With Savard under contract for next season, he’s under no pressure to trade him now. If no one meets his price, he’ll wait until the summer or next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2024

Check out the latest on Noah Hanafin, Chris Tanev, Boone Jenner, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jakob Chychrun and Sean Walker in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON HANIFIN AND TANEV

SPORTSNET: Pat Steinberg wonders if the Calgary Flames will consider sitting Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev for trade protection leading up to the March 8 deadline. He believes it’s almost certain that the two defenseman will be moved by then.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

Despite their fading playoff hopes, the Flames aren’t giving up on the season. Staying in the race means Hanifin and Tanev will continue logging big minutes but that also puts them at risk of injury, which could hurt their value in the trade market.

Steinberg noted the Arizona Coyotes sat out Jakob Chychrun last season for three weeks before trading him to the Ottawa Senators. “It looked bad on the Coyotes, did the player no favours, and is something the league is keen to avoid going forward.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary fans who want both players moved for the best possible returns would probably prefer if Hanifin and Tanev were benched until they’re traded and to hell with how it looks. However, that probably won’t happen until trade talks heat up and a deal seems close. I can see the Flames sitting one or both for no more than a week while they hammer out the details of a trade.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of Hanifin, Jimmy Murphy pointed out that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has long been interested in acquiring the Flames rearguard. He wondered if Sweeney would try to trade for him before March 8 or wait until the offseason and sign him as a free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney would probably love to land Hanifin by the deadline and sign him to a contract extension. However, I don’t think he’s got sufficient trade assets to outbid other clubs with an interest in the Flames defenseman.

The Bruins have no picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft and you have to think the Flames will want a first-rounder as part of the return. They could also want a high-value prospect such as Mason Lohrei or a promising young player like Matthew Poitras.

BLUE JACKETS NOT TRADING JENNER

THE JEFF MAREK SHOW: On Friday, Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations (and interim general manager) John Davidson spoke with Marek about Boone Jenner. The 30-year-old Jackets captain has been the subject of recent trade speculation.

Davidson confirmed to the Sportsnet host that his club is getting a lot of calls about Jenner. However, he stated, “Boone’s not going anywhere, and Boone doesn’t want to go anywhere.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the Jackets fired general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, Jenner told The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline that he didn’t want to be traded. It’s apparent from Davidson’s remarks that they don’t want to move him regardless of who’s calling and what they’re offering.

UPDATES ON TARASENKO AND CHYCHRUN

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports teams have been calling the Ottawa Senators about Vladimir Tarasenko, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 32-year-old winger is on a one-year, $5 million contract with a full no-trade clause.

Garrioch believes Tarasenko recently changed agents to facilitate a possible contract extension if he gets moved by the March 8 trade deadline. The Senators could get more of a return for him if they agree to retain part of his salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko is the priority for the Senators given his free-agent status. The Athletic’s Ian Mendes and Shayna Goldman believe if Staios can land a second-round pick and another asset for Tarasenko that he’ll have done a decent job given the limitations of the winger’s no-trade clause. The Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers were among their suggested trade destinations.

Jakob Chychrun, meanwhile, is generating interest from teams seeking more than a playoff rental player. The 25-year-old defenseman is signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $4.6 million with a 10-team no-trade clause.

It’s thought the Senators have set a high asking price for Chychrun. If no one pays it, they’re content to wait until the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun publicly stated last month he doesn’t want to be moved. Senators GM Steve Staios said it was “disappointing” to see the blueliner come up in trade rumors, adding that they could find a way to re-sign him to a contract extension.

Staios may be setting a high price to discourage teams from calling about Chychrun. However, if someone is willing to pay it, he’ll have to give it serious consideration, provided the offer isn’t coming from a team on the blueliner’s no-trade list.

Erik  Brannstrom, Dominik Kubalik and Mark Kastelic are also considered to be trade candidates. Garrioch doubts they’ll fetch more than draft picks if moved.

WILL THE FLYERS TRADE OR RE-SIGN SEAN WALKER?

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek considers Sean Walker among the most intriguing players around the NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become a UFA on July 1 and carries an affordable $2.7 million cap hit this season.

It’s believed the Flyers are hoping Walker would fetch a first-round pick or a high second-rounder. If no one meets that price, Marek can see them retaining the veteran blueliner for a playoff push.

Marek also wondered if the Flyers could re-sign Walker. Based on his play, he could price himself within the $4 million and $5 million range.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of you probably read that line and believe that’s far too much for Walker. However, that’s the going rate for second-pairing defensemen in the NHL. Maybe he might accept a little less for the security of a long-term deal to stay in Philadelphia.

If the Flyers don’t re-sign Walker, he’ll probably have little difficulty landing a lucrative new contract on the open market this summer, especially with the salary cap projected to jump by $4.4 million.