Could Joe Thornton accept a trade to the Avalanche? Could the Panthers peddle Vincent Trocheck? What’s the latest on Jake Muzzin’s contract talks? Could Max Domi hit the trade block? All this and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LATEST ON THORNTON
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will attempt to move as many pieces as possible before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Defenseman Brenden Dillon is expected to be traded, but there will be a lot of attention on veteran Sharks center Joe Thornton. He has a full no-movement clause, but there’s a belief he could waive it to join a Stanley Cup contender. Garrioch thinks the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche are good fits.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater believes Thornton would be a good fit with the Avalanche. He’d be a short-term replacement for sidelined center Nazem Kadri and a potential playoff replacement for Tyson Jost or Vlad Kamenev. Jost hasn’t scored in 31 straight games. Dater also wouldn’t be surprised if Thornton returned to Boston.
Could San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton be a good fit with the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to Shawn Lamba for the Dater link. Thornton hasn’t indicated his intentions except to say he’d think about it if approached about a trade to a contender.
Returning to the Bruins, where his NHL career began, would make a nice story, but he’s not the second-line scoring winger they need. The Avs could be a better fit, but GM Joe Sakic could have other options on their radar.
UPDATES ON THE PANTHERS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s talk Vincent Trocheck could be available as the struggling Florida Panthers search for a defenseman before the trade deadline. The 26-year-old has two more seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million, which Friedman feels many teams can handle.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes Trocheck’s contract could be difficult to move unless Panthers GM Dale Tallon agrees to pick up a portion of his annual salary-cap hit. He thinks the slumping Panthers could be ready to accept the reality of their situation and become deadline sellers. Pending UFA wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov could be on the move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon could go from buyer to seller if the Panthers fail to gain ground in the Eastern Conference standings. He’s made no secret of his wish to acquire a defense partner for Aaron Ekblad to bring some stability to his blueline, but that sort of player isn’t cheap or easy to find.
Dangling Trochek instead of a rental player like Hoffman or Dadonov could fetch that type of return. Given the Panthers’ limited salary-cap space, it would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move.
UPDATE ON MUZZIN’S CONTRACT STATUS
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Jake Muzzin believes he’s close to a contract extension with the Maple Leafs. The 30-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Muzzin didn’t go into specifics, but it’s believed it could be a four-year deal worth around $5.5 million annually.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the CBA tagging rule could determine when Muzzin and the Leafs reach their agreement. They can only commit so much salary following the season they’re in. That amount goes up by 10 percent on March 1, leading Johnston to speculate the contract won’t be completed until after that date.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like this is a done deal, it’s just a matter of time. Assuming it’s $5.5 million annually, that will push the Leafs’ cap payroll for 2020-21 to over $76.8 million invested in 16 players. If the cap rises to $84 million, it won’t leave much to re-sign or replace their other free agents.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Marc de Foy expects defenseman Jeff Petry and winger Tomas Tatar will remain with the Montreal Canadiens after the trade deadline. He claims that the decision was made a long time ago. Both players have a year remaining on their respective contracts.
He speculates center Max Domi could be on the move, pointing to a recent rumor linking him to the Minnesota Wild. He thinks Habs GM Marc Bergevin could have a Wild defenseman, like Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin in his sights.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the Canadiens must lower their asking price of a second-round pick for winger Ilya Kovalchuk if they intend to move him by the trade deadline. He expects teams will come calling about Max Domi but doesn’t think the Habs intend to go that route.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumor linking Domi to the Wild came from The Athletic’s Michael Russo in a piece suggesting that several teams could be interested in Dumba and Brodin.
Here’s what Russo wrote: “The Canadiens would likely part with center Max Domi, maybe in a trade for Brodin because they have a surplus at Domi’s position and could use a quality left-shot defenseman.” He mentioned Domi because he feels the Wild would want a center in return for either blueliner. He’s not saying Domi is definitely on the block, he’s not saying it’s a Domi-for-Dumba swap, and he’s not saying the Habs are definitely pursuing Brodin.
All of the trade chatter about Domi seems to originate from a few Montreal pundits unhappy with the 24-year-old’s performance this season. They also suggest his RFA status (with arbitration rights) could complicate his future in Montreal. Perhaps that’s true, but GM Marc Bergevin isn’t under any pressure to move Domi at the trade deadline. If he decides to shop Domi, he can do it in the summer, when teams have more money and a willingness to make hockey trades.
MORE RUMORS FROM THE OTTAWA SUN’S BRUCE GARRIOCH
New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is said to have mild interest in Travis Zajac. The New Jersey Devils center has a year left on his contract and history with Lamoriello.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac reportedly refused to waive his no-movement clause earlier this season when presented with a trade opportunity. Just because he has a history with the former Devils GM doesn’t mean he’s going to accept a trade to the Islanders.
Garrioch believes Ottawa Senators defenseman Dylan DeMelo will be on the move by the deadline. The Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, and Vegas Golden Knights could be potential destination for DeMelo.
If the New York Rangers don’t trade Chris Kreider, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau could become the top forward available. Don’t expect the Senators to get a first-round pick for him.