NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2024
The ongoing fallout of the Elias Lindholm deal on the trade market, plus the latest on the Predators and Blackhawks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
FALLOUT FROM THE LINDHOLM TRADE
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Sean Monahan of the Montreal Canadiens moves to the top of the list of available centers who are pending unrestricted free agents heading toward the March 8 trade deadline.
The Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique is probably next on that list. LeBrun also wondered if Scott Laughton could end up on this list if the Philadelphia Flyers fall out of the playoff race. He cited colleague Darren Dreger reporting the Flyers are getting calls about Laughton, who has two years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $3 million. While general manager Daniel Briere isn’t keen to move the 29-year-old center he’s willing to listen to offers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Monahan’s bounce-back performance this season and his affordable $1.9 million cap hit account for why he’s likely the top center in the trade market leading up to March 8. The Canadiens could even retain half of that cap hit but they’ll likely want a first-round pick and maybe a prospect or a promising young NHL player in return.
Laughton could be moved if someone pitches a significant offer to Briere, who isn’t deviating from his rebuilding plans despite his club sitting third in the Metropolitan Divison. As he said, however, he won’t make trades just for the sake of doing so. Briere indicated the trade market would determine what moves (if any) he’ll make.
LeBrun believes the Flames’ focus now shifts toward pending UFA defensemen Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. He thinks they’re still trying to re-sign Hanifin but will have to fish or cut bait by March 8.
It’s more likely that Tanev gets moved by deadline day. The Flames’ asking price is believed to be a second-round pick plus another asset but a club could have him right now if they’re willing to part with a first-rounder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Flames are rebuilding on the fly rather than engaging in a full roster teardown. They could seek a young roster player for Hanifin as he has more value than Tanev.
LeBrun also wondered what effect Lindholm’s trade might have on Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom as the two are good friends. Markstrom is signed through 2025-26 with an AAV of $6 million and a no-movement clause. If he wants out, moving him might have to wait until the offseason.
LATEST ON THE PREDATORS
THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina doesn’t see the Nashville Predators parting with starting goaltender Juuse Saros by deadline day. They’re jockeying for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference and promising Yaroslav Askarov isn’t NHL-ready yet. The only way he thinks that could happen is if a desperate general manager is willing to overpay to get him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Somebody could pitch Preds GM Barry Trotz an offer too good to refuse but I don’t think anyone’s going to do that by the trade deadline. Maybe in the offseason if Saros’ contract extension talks get difficult.
Skrbina expects Tyson Barrie to be the more likely candidate following his recent public trade request. Pending free agents such as Tommy Novak, Yakov Trenin, Alexandre Carrier and Kevin Lankinen and pending restricted free agent Dante Fabbro could also become trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not all of those pending free agents could hit the trade block. In Fabbro’s case, Trotz doesn’t have to move him by March 8 as he could wait for the offseason to gauge his market value if he doesn’t have a long-term future in Nashville.
SHOULD THE BLACKHAWKS LOOK INTO ACQUIRING KAKKO?
CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Nate Brown noted a recent report indicating the New York Rangers are taking calls on winger Kaapo Kakko and wondered if the Blackhawks should look into it if they haven’t already done so.
Kaapo, 22, could be an affordable acquisition and he still has time to reach his potential. However, Brown noted that the young Rangers winger has had ample opportunity to do so and hasn’t reached it yet. He also noted the Blackhawks are dealing with a struggling young winger of their own in Lukas Reichel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks already have enough promising youngsters on their club and within their system. They need more established young talent to help their rebuild and provide some much-needed depth around budding superstar Connor Bedard.