Trade Candidates Unlikely To Move At 2021 NHL Trade Deadline
Who could the Islanders be targeting in the trade market? Could Sam Bennett become available as the Flames fade? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ARE HALL, PALMIERI ON THE ISLANDERS’ TRADE LIST?
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple believes Taylor Hall could be among those on the New York Islanders list approaching the April 12 trade deadline as they seek a replacement for sidelined captain Anders Lee.
Staple doubts the 29-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger is at the top of the Isles wish list. General manager Lou Lamoriello is unwilling to pay the reported asking price of a first-round pick.
Kyle Palmieri is still the best fit in Staple’s estimation. However, teams like the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs could also pursue the 30-year-old New Jersey Devils winger, potentially driving up the Devils’ asking price.
Staple also noted Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown have also been connected to the Islanders in the rumor mill. Foligno is a pending UFA who could end up re-signing with the Jackets while the Kings could hang onto Brown if they remain in playoff contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello holds his cards close to the vest but he’s also made his share of bold moves over the years. He could land Hall if the Sabres lower the asking price but I think he’d prefer Palmieri as his style of play fits better into Isles coach Barry Trotz’s system.
I don’t see Foligno or Brown going anywhere. It wouldn’t surprise me if Foligno signs a contract extension with the Jackets. Brown has another season remaining on his contract with a seven-team no-trade list. I don’t think the Kings are really feeling any pressure to move their former captain. That doesn’t mean they won’t listen to offers but trading him isn’t among their priorities.
BENNETT COULD DRAW TRADE INTEREST AS FLAMES FADE
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes plenty of teams could line up to make a pitch for forward Sam Bennett as the Calgary Flames playoff hopes fade. Earlier this season, Bennett’s agent told Elliotte Friedman his client would welcome a change of scenery. Francis feels the 25-year-old forward’s versatility and previous postseason performance could attract more attention in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary GM Brad Treliving could make Bennett’s trade wish come true by next Monday at 3 pm ET. The Flames have dropped seven of their last nine and sit six points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division. The end of the regular season is just over five weeks away and the Canadiens hold five games in hand.
LEAFS CALLED SABRES ABOUT ULLMARK
WGR 550: During an April 1 appearance on “The Instigators” with Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Toronto Maple Leafs spoke with the Buffalo Sabres regarding goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Friedman indicated the Leafs were doing due diligence and merely inquiring as to the Sabres’ plans for Ullmark. He doesn’t think the Sabres’ asking price would be a first-round pick but does believe the netminder would have some value in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This came about as a result of Leafs starter Frederik Andersen remaining sidelined by a lower-body injury until at least next week. Ullmark is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said he doesn’t believe the Leafs are panicked over Andersen’s status and didn’t have a sense they were calling other teams. Like Friedman, however, he acknowledged that could change if Andersen is sidelined longer than expected.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector wondered if Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland can find the right fit for his roster before the trade deadline when he’s already maxed out at the $81.5 million salary cap. His lack of second, third and fifth-round picks in this year’s draft also limits his buying power.
A third-line center and a top-six left winger as the Oilers’ primary needs. Spector suggested Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening, Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Ottawa Senators winger Ryan Dzingel as trade targets.
Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar would be a good fit but that hinges on the Canadiens’ playoff fortunes. He also doesn’t see Canucks winger Tanner Pearson as much better than what the Oilers already have. His suggested trade asset includes Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear if the price is right.
THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis also mentioned Glendening and Sutter as well as Vancouver’s Travis Boyd and Calgary’s Derek Ryan as his proposed trade targets. He considers Ryan as best-suited to address the Oilers’ needs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever Holland pursues in the trade market it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. That means giving up a current roster player in a one-for-one swap or shipping out a player to another club in a separate move to clear cap space for the intended target.
I don’t see the Canadiens moving Tatar while they’re in the thick of the Scotia North playoff chase. Pearson is currently sidelined but could return to action later this month. However, the current outbreak of COVID-19 among the Canucks likely takes him and Sutter out of the equation.
LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators could face a decision between trading Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis, who is currently sidelined. The latter was considered among their untouchables but there could be considerable value in the highly-regarded defenseman.
Players with Ellis’ contract (six years remaining with an annual average value of $6.25 million) are difficult to move now but Friedman suggests the Preds blueliner could be an exception. He believes Ellis could be a good long-term fit with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Friedman is also curious about what the Predators might do with Calle Jarnkrok. He has one season remaining on his contract worth $2 million and was last week’s NHL player of the week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Ellis would attract plenty of interest if Predators general manager David Poile is willing to listen to offers. However, I don’t believe they can move him during the trade deadline with so many capped-out clubs seeking affordable rentals. If Ellis is to be traded that move probably happens in the offseason when interested clubs have more cap space.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Mattias Ekholm remains the big name on the trade bait list. Sources tell LeBrun the Predators are seeking three assets in return: a first-round pick, an elite prospect and a third asset that could take on different forms.
Part of the reason behind that asking price is Ekholm’s under contract for another year. They must determine if the best offer they’ll get is at this trade deadline or after this summer’s expansion draft when interested clubs no longer have to worry about protection lists.
Frank Seravalli believes Predators winger Mikael Granlund is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target in their search for a top-six forward. However, there are some complicating factors.
The Leafs are awaiting clarity on whether the current 14-day quarantine period for players from American teams joining Canadian clubs will be reduced to seven games. There could also be some hesitation by the Predators to sell as they’re gaining ground on the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile isn’t under pressure to move Ekholm at this trade deadline. Interested clubs could be more willing to pursue him in the offseason following the expansion draft.
Granlund is probably the most affordable forward linked to the Leafs in terms of return and salary. If that quarantine period isn’t reduced they’ll have to acquire him before the end of this month if he’s to be effective for them over the remainder of the season.
TRADE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Leafs have checked around on goalies (“Arizona makes sense”) but doesn’t see a long list of potential healthy options to acquire in a sensible trade. He also dismissed the rumors linking the Leafs to Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darcy Kuemper is a terrific starter but the Coyotes netminder remains week-to-week with a lower-body injury. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Kuemper’s certain to be back before the trade deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll be moved before the trade deadline. He’s under contract for another season and Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Oft-injured backup Antti Raanta was recently placed on injured reserve.
The speculation about the Leafs acquiring Quick sounds like a desperate fever dream from the more deranged of Frederik Andersen’s critics. The 35-year-old Kings goalie is past his prime, carries a $5.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two years and has a long injury history.
Acquiring Quick would make the Leafs older, eat up valuable cap space for next season that could be better invested in a younger player, and wouldn’t resolve their goaltending concerns.
Following on his report from last Saturday that the Coyotes could consider moving winger Conor Garland, Friedman said they’re not interested in multiple late-round picks. The Boston Bruins need scoring depth and he speculates they could have interest in the former junior Bruin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could wait until the offseason if he doesn’t find any suitable offers before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 36-year-old Brown is having a good bounce-back performance from last season’s disappointing effort. He’s got a year remaining on his contract ($5.875 million cap hit) but I don’t think he’s a fit with the Islanders from a contract standpoint.
Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $75.9 million invested in 15 players next season. Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin are restricted free agents seeking raises on their next contracts.
The Columbus Blue Jackets must decide if they’ll shop pending UFA defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline or hold onto him for the playoffs. The Jackets have risen back into the postseason chase in the Discover Central Division. Friedman also isn’t sure the Jackets want to trade captain (and pending UFA) Nick Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could move Savard for the right price if his club slides further out of playoff contention. I’ll be surprised if he shops Foligno, who is believed keen to re-sign with the Jackets. Trading their captain at the deadline would be a gut punch to their playoff hopes.
The Vancouver Canucks playoff math isn’t good but they want to compete as long as they can before becoming deadline sellers. They’ve taken calls on pending unrestricted free agent defenders Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic (both have no-move clauses) and Jordie Benn, who has a five-team no-trade clause. There’s been some action on Benn and at least one Eastern American club asked about Hamonic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s assumed Edler could be unwilling to leave Vancouver. The Jets have been linked to Hamonic, who might entertain the opportunity to play in his home province. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Canucks could soon start contract extension talks with Pearson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Flyers are buyers. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor makes the case that the slumping club hasn’t done much to warrant being aggressive shoppers before the trade deadline. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher might even become a seller if his club doesn’t reverse its fortunes soon.
The NHL postpones the 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The league postponed the 2021 Winter Classic and the All-Star Weekend for this season. The Winter Classic was slated for Jan. 1, 2021 at Target Field in Minneapolis featuring the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The Florida Panthers were to host the 2021 All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center in Sunrise from Jan. 29-31.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those events could be pushed ahead to the same locations for next season. There’s talk the league still hopes to begin the 2020-21 season sometime in January. These postponements indicate that’s not going to happen. At the very least, it won’t happen with fans in the arenas in the early going.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the status of the developmental leagues like the AHL and the Major Juniors will be a pressing issue at today’s meeting of NHL general managers. However, the league’s high-level executives aren’t going to be able to provide answers for their GMs.
Pierre LeBrun reports of a constant dialogue between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and their chief lieutenants regarding plans for next season. He added there’s a bigger appetite among team owners, general managers and players to have a greater voice on those plans because there’s so much at stake. LeBrun also said whatever the season looks like when it begins likely won’t be what it’ll look like toward the end.
Frank Seravalli reported one of the biggest conversations is a cost-benefit analysis for the NHL. It would be problematic for the league if revenue for next season is lower than the total salaries owed to the players. The players will also be getting paid on Oct 31 for the first time since April, receiving 8.1 percent of the salaries to tide them over for whenever the season begins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be very difficult for NHL prospects to get suitable playing time considering the difficulties their development leagues face to stage their respective seasons. As for what the NHL season will look like, the league has indicated it could begin without fans in the arenas but they could gradually allow fans into the stands over the course of the schedule depending on local health and safety protocols. That will ultimately determine what the league’s revenue looks like by season’s end and its potential effect upon player salaries.
Speaking of next season, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons reports the Canadian government is looking at a pilot COVID-19 testing program that would replace the current 14-day quarantine period for people entering the country with rapid testings at airports and border entry crossings. If those prove successful, it could open up travel for NHL teams between the two countries.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided arbitration with Connor Brown by signing him to a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $3.6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair deal for both sides. Brown quickly established himself as a key player for the Senators after joining them in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished second in team scoring, netting career-highs in assists (27) and points (43) in 71 games last season.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed winger Denis Gurianov to a two-year contract worth $2.55 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gurianov led the Stars in goals last season (20) and finished second in playoff goals with nine. This new contract will be a bargain for the Stars if the 23-year-old winger continues to develop as a goal scorer. Cap Friendly indicates they have $77.4 million invested in 21 players with Roope Hintz left to re-sign.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks avoided arbitration with Jake Virtanen by signing the winger to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $2.55 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen had a career-best performance (18 goals, 36 points in 69 games) last season but followed up with a disappointing effort (two goals, three points in 16 games) in the playoffs. He’ll be under pressure to step up and improve his overall game next season. The Canucks are $1.5 million over the $81.5 million salary cap but could get relief by placing winger MIcheal Ferland on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to play next season.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils needed experienced depth on the blueline. This is a cost-effective short-term deal they hope will help to address that issue.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Dominik Simon to a one-year, $700K contract.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche’s home arena is changing its name from the Pepsi Center to Ball Arena.