NHL Rumor Mill – February 9, 2021
Updates on Sam Bennett, Tony DeAngelo and Jake Virtanen in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently wondered if Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett would be a good fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He noted Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas reportedly expressed some level of interest.
Despite Bennett’s sluggish start, Fox listed his strong postseason play, the lack of a cross-border quarantine, and his RFA status this summer among the upside. The downside would be Bennett’s $2.55 million cap hit for this season, the Flames’ preference for a roster player in return and their wariness of dealing within the division.
Fox had heard defenseman Travis Dermott mentioned but doesn’t like that option, pointing to the Leafs still aren’t comfortable with Mikko Lehtonen and the need to maintain blueline depth with injuries inevitable. He wondered if the Flames might take a chance on Pierre Engvall.
Eric Francis subsequently reported the Flames have moved Bennett to skating along with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. The move gave hope to Flames fans that his trade request can be ignored or rescinded. Francis said the team has no desire or imminent plans to part with its annual playoff MVP.
Francis points out Bennett’s trade request hasn’t caused a rift among his teammates as they understand his wishes to play a more prominent role. If he plays well with Gaudreau and Monahan, the club’s goal of retaining him until the summer can be met.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s up to Bennett how this plays out. There’s undoubtedly some interest in him in the trade market and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Leafs are among the suitors. However, his inconsistent play this season combined with limited cap space and difficulty trading with American-based clubs because of border restrictions brought on by COVID-19 makes finding a suitable return difficult to come by.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers’ efforts to move Tony DeAngelo have stalled. While there have been some discussions, the trade market for the 25-year-old defenseman has dried up over concerns of fan backlash.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks had reported the Flames were interested in DeAngelo. That gave rise to a possible swap for Bennett but that doesn’t appear likely now.
DeAngelo has considerable offensive skills but his well-documented personal baggage has obviously become a factor. Nevertheless, there could be a GM willing to take a chance on him at some point in this season.
SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports the Vancouver Canucks have placed winger Jake Virtanen on the trade block. However, the club’s current losing skid leaves GM Jim Benning dealing not from a position of strength but one of necessity as he tries to shake up his struggling roster. He also points out Adam Gaudette is being shopped. Both forwards were healthy scratches during Saturday’s game against the Leafs.
MacIntyre cited colleague Elliotte Friedman reporting the Boston Bruins were among the clubs with an interest in Virtanen. However, he doubts the Canucks will get back a prime asset in the middle of a pandemic with the Canada-US border close and most teams capped out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen and Gaudette were both back in the lineup for last night’s game against the Leafs but did nothing to improve their trade value or improve the Canucks’ performance. Even without the restrictions imposed upon this season by COVID-19, I doubt Benning would get anything worthwhile for either guy that would make an immediate positive impression on his roster.