NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2023
The Hurricanes are linked to Bo Horvat and the Bruins to Luke Schenn, more speculation about the Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois joining the Canadiens plus the latest on the Blue Jackets, Wild and Sabres in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
THE LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
The Canucks are said to be seeking a young center as part of a multi-asset return for Horvat. That’s too steep for Carolina at this point, who won’t part with Martin Necas. LeBrun pointed out that the Hurricanes usually don’t spend high on rental players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes need a reliable second-line center if they hope to win the Stanley Cup this season. They have other options to choose from to address that need if the Canucks’ asking price for Horvat remains high. Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly, and Montreal’s Sean Monahan could also be available.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss cited LeBrun’s recent column in The Athletic reporting the Bruins have called the Canucks to inquire about Luke Schenn. Like Horvat, the 33-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun suggested the Bruins’ interest in Schenn may be exploratory at this point. He carries an affordable $850K cap hit and has considerable playoff experience as a shutdown blueliner, which would make him enticing for a cap-strapped club like the Bruins.
MORE SPECULATION TYING DUBOIS TO THE CANADIENS
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels wondered if Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois’ next game in Montreal following Tuesday’s game will be with the Canadiens. The 25-year-old center is a restricted free agent this summer. Engels suggests the possibility of him suiting up with the Habs remains a possibility as long as he remains noncommittal about a long-term deal with the Jets.
The Canadiens attempted to acquire Dubois from Columbus before he was shipped to Winnipeg in 2021. Last summer, his agent created waves when he mentioned that Montreal was a city his client might like to play in one day.
On Monday, Dubois told the Montreal media he was relaunching his takeover of Vincent Lecavalier’s charity to help underprivileged children in Rimouski, where the Jets forward grew up. He indicated that playing for the Canadiens one day wasn’t what he was thinking about when he started this philanthropic effort.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois once again downplayed the notion of joining the Canadiens. Meanwhile, Jets coach Rick Bowness sang his praises and said he’d do all he could to convince the center to stay in Winnipeg.
The Jets hoped to sign Dubois last summer to a long-term deal but he preferred a one-year extension. If he opts for a similar deal this summer, they could put him on the trade block as he’ll be a year away from UFA eligibility. Whether the rebuilding Canadiens would meet the expensive asking price to acquire him from the Jets is another matter.
UPDATE ON THE BLUE JACKETS
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger recently reported that Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen could receive plenty of phone calls leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.
The Jackets have three potential rental players to offer up in pending UFAs like Vladislav Gavrikov, winger Gustav Nyquist and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Hedger also speculated that other clubs could target players such as Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.
TSN: LeBrun reported the Blue Jackets will seek more than a first-round pick for Vladislav Gavrikov. He pointed out that they got a first- and a third-rounder for David Savard at the 2021 trade deadline. LeBrun also indicated the Blue Jackets still hope to re-sign Gavrikov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams can ask about Laine but I don’t see the Jackets moving him. Roslovic, however, is another story. He’s had a disappointing performance this season and has a year remaining on his contract with a $4 million cap hit. Perhaps they’d consider shipping him elsewhere for the right offer.
WILL THE WILD BECOME BUYERS AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Minnesota Wild’s re-signing Matt Boldy to a seven-year, $49 million contract extension leaves them with just $9 million remaining of their $83 million salary-cap payroll for 2023-24. Goaltender Filip Gustavsson, defenseman Calen Addison and center Sam Steel are among their notable restricted free agents while their noteworthy UFAs include Matt Dumba and Frederick Gaudreau.
According to Smith, Dumba is playing his final season with the Wild. He also suggested winger Jordan Greenway could become a cost-cutting casualty if the club decides to shed some salary to re-sign other players for next season. Smith wondered if Addison might price himself out of Minnesota.
For this season, the Wild have the cap space to make additions at the trade deadline. GM Bill Guerin said how aggressive he’ll be in the trade market will depend on the club’s performance.
Smith claims Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat aren’t on the Wild’s radar. However, he wouldn’t be surprised if Guerin kicked tires on Chicago’s Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports a source informed him that the Penguins have had trade discussions with the Wild. The focus of those talks wasn’t readily available.
Kingerski suggested the Wild could help the Penguins free up some salary-cap room. Given the Pens’ depth in right-side defensemen, he doesn’t see them being interested in Dumba. The Wild could use some help at center plus they need left-side defensemen that can provide mobility and offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have a projected $16.5 million in trade deadline cap space. I expect Guerin will be a buyer if his club is still in the thick of the playoff race.
With that much cap room heading toward March 3, it will be his best opportunity to add one or two rental players to bolster his club’s Stanley Cup hopes. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he tried to move a depth player under contract for next season to provide himself with some much-needed cap room for 2023-24.
SABRES SHOPPING HINOSTROZA
THE ATHLETIC: Matthew Fairburn reports the Buffalo Sabres have been calling around trying to move winger Vinnie Hinostroza. He’s been scratched in 19 of the last 21 games. The Sabres are hoping to move him and his $1.7 million salary to free up a roster spot.