NHL Rumor Mill – January 8, 2021
The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alex Ovechkin, Frederik Andersen and Mathew Barzal in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: During the latest “Insider Trading” segment, Darren Dreger reported the latest regarding Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade request from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Dubois’ agent, Pat Brisson, remains in constant contact with Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. The young center promises to be a good teammate for his Blue Jackets teammates but there’s a sense the Dubois camp and Jackets management would like to work out a trade sooner rather than later.
Pierre LeBrun reports people around the league believed the Jackets will take their time on this, perhaps waiting until this year’s draft to get a deal done. He suggests the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets as possible trade partners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun feels the Ducks and Kings have the depth in young assets to interest the Jackets. Unless they’re rebuilding, however, I don’t believe that’s what they’ll want in return for Dubois.
The Jackets are trying to become Stanley Cup contenders. Trading away their best center without getting a quality center in return won’t help unless the plan is to flip assets acquired from a club like the Ducks or Kings to another club in exchange for a scoring center.
The Rangers would probably love to have Dubois in their lineup but, as LeBrun suggests, the Jackets might not be keen to send him to a division rival.
LeBrun mentions the Canadiens’ current depth at center. If Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi blossom as expected this season, pending free agent Phillip Danault could become the odd man out. The Habs and Jackets have a recent trade history. Some Canadiens fans would salivate at the notion of swapping Danault for Dubois but I don’t see that happening. The asking price for Dubois could be Suzuki or Kotkaniemi.
Some observers suggest swapping Dubois for Laine. While the Jets winger wouldn’t address the Jackets’ need to replace Dubois at center, he would bring some much-needed scoring punch.
However, the Jackets would need assurances Laine will make a long-term commitment. The same goes for Dubois with the Jets. It’s believed Dubois wants to play in a bigger market, which would rule out Winnipeg as a destination.
LeBrun noted Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s contract expires at the end of this season. He expects an extension will be worked out during the season, but Frank Seravalli said Ovechkin’s initial pre-pandemic ask was $12. 5 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the hit to league revenue this season, it’s unlikely Ovechkin will get that much from the Capitals. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out. Both sides want to get a deal done but Ovechkin will probably have to drop his asking price.
LeBrun reported the Toronto Maple Leafs have not held contract extension talks with goaltender Frederik Andersen. He thinks both sides are comfortable with letting the season play out before opening discussions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs will want to observe Andersen’s play this season, as well as examine the free-agent and trade markets by season’s end for any suitable replacements if they decide to part way with their starter. Andersen, meanwhile, can improve his value to the Leafs (or another club via this summer’s UFA market) with a strong performance this season.
Dreger reports the New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal’s representatives continue working toward a new contract for the restricted free agent center. Barzal is in New York working out and awaiting a new deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m surprised Barzal’s still unsigned. It’s thought the Isles prefer signing him to a short-term bridge deal with the promise of a more lucrative contract afterward.