NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2021

Could Brendan Shanahan, Kyle Dubas or Sheldon Keefe lose their jobs following another early playoff exit by the Leafs? Could the Florida Panthers try to acquire Penguins center Evgeni Malkin? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN/THE ATHLETIC: Lance Hornby and Jonas Siegel wondered if heads will roll in the Maple Leafs’ front office or among the coaching staff following the club’s early playoff exit.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas (NHL.com).

Brendan Shanahan’s in his seventh season as team president but the club’s postseason woes continue. General manager Kyle Dubas has been in the role three years and head coach Sheldon Keefe completed his second season.

Hornby and Siegel raised some questions about several of the moves made by the franchise in recent years and the overall performance. However, they don’t expect Shanahan, Dubas or Keefe to lose their jobs. They instead anticipate an assistant coach such as Manny Malhotra, Dave Hakstol or Paul MacLean or goalie coach Steve Briere could become a sacrificial firing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sun’s Steve Simmons also doesn’t expect Shanahan, Dubas or Keefe to be fired. One or two of the assistant coaches could be replaced. The Leafs’ struggling power play could cost Malhotra his job.

Hornby wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs see which goaltenders are available in the summer’s trade and free-agent markets. If nothing’s worthwhile there, he suggests returning with Jack Campbell and either David Rittich or a goalie from within their system. He doesn’t expect Frederik Andersen will be re-signed.

Of the Leafs’ other unrestricted free agents, Hornby feels Zach Hyman, Jason Spezza and perhaps Alex Galchenyuk should be signed. Siegel thinks restricted free agent Travis Dermott will be an affordable re-signing.

With defenseman Morgan Rielly a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility, Siegel believes the Leafs must decide on his future this year. Trading Rielly would fetch assets and clear cap space but the move would also leave a big hole on their blueline.

As for shopping a core player such as Mitch Marner or William Nylander, Siegel preaches caution here. Making change for change’s sake could set the Leafs back several years, pointing to the Boston Bruins’ trading Tyler Seguin in 2013 and the Edmonton Oilers trading Taylor Hall in 2016.

Both pundits believe the Leafs could lose Dermott or Alex Kerfoot in the expansion draft unless the Leafs cut a side deal with the Seattle Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have to tread carefully as Siegel suggests. Nevertheless, they must fully evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to determine what moves are necessary and what’s available to address their needs.

They’ve still handcuffed themselves with those big contracts for Marner, Nylander, John Tavares and Auston Matthews. The latter two, of course, aren’t going anywhere. Tavares has a full no-movement clause while Matthews is coming off a Richard Trophy performance despite his lack of production in the series against the Montreal Canadiens.

Marner, Nylander or Rielly are the prime trade candidates if they wish to shake up the core. Each would fetch significant returns in the trade market. By moving one of them, however, they must ensure they’re not creating one problem by trying to fix another.

Losing Rielly could hurt the Leafs the most as it could prove difficult to replace him on the blueline. If they’re going to trade him they better be sure they’ve got a suitable replacement lined up.

Their depth at center suffered against the Canadiens when Tavares and Nick Foligno were injured. They’ll have to address that issue if Foligno isn’t re-signed and they lose Kerfoot to the Kraken. Finding a suitable goaltender to split the duties with Campbell is a must. So is replacing Hyman if he departs via free agency.

The Leafs sacrificed speed for experienced grit this year. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have physical players in their lineup but they can’t be the slowfooted kind.

They could also end up pursuing bargain players via trades or free agency if they don’t make a significant cost-cutting move. Cap Friendly shows them with nearly $69 million tied up in 14 players. They will get some relief depending on which player they lose in the expansion draft, but not enough to make an impact addition.

THE LATEST PANTHERS SPECULATION

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards shot down a recent report in the New York Post speculating Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville could head to the Seattle Kraken. “No one is taking it too seriously,” said Richards, pointing out Quenneville is among the NHL’s highest-paid coaches and appears very happy in his current job.

Richards wondered what the Panthers will do with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman Keith Yandle. They’re the club’s highest-paid players with a combined annual average value of $16 million. However, both were healthy scratches during the Panthers’ final game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round series.

Both players have no-movement clauses plus Bobrovsky has a lot of years left on his contract. After seeing GM Bill Zito trade Mike Matheson and his contract last year, Richards doesn’t rule out the possibility of trading Bobrovsky or Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Richards considers it important for the Panthers to free up some salary to re-sign pending free agents such as Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair, Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Montour. They’ll also have to consider long-term cap space to sign Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau to contract extensions over the next couple of years.

Zito didn’t sign Bobrovsky and Yandle to those contracts. He inherited them from his predecessor. Moving Matheson was easier because he lacked no-trade protection and had a more affordable $4.875 million cap hit. Trading those other two presents a bigger challenge for Zito.

Yandle could be easier to move than Bobrovsky. The 34-year-old blueliner’s got two years left on his deal with an annual average value of $6.35 million. It will require some creativity, perhaps a third-party broker and it could cost the Panthers a couple of draft picks or prospects to make happen in a package deal. Still, they’d have a better chance at moving Yandle than Bobrovsky’s $10 million AAV for the next five years.

Jimmy Murphy reported there have been numerous rumors over the last two years linking Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin to the Panthers. Malkin lives in Florida with his family during the offseason.

Murphy cited an NHL source with direct knowledge of the situation saying he believes there is and has been mutual interest there. However, they’re stuck with Bobrovsky’s big contract plus they’re planning to sign Barkov to an expensive new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers’ rumored interest in Malkin first surfaced when Dale Tallon was the general manager. I doubt that’s the case now under Bill Zito. Even if he found a way to shed Bobrovsky’s salary, I don’t think he’ll use the savings to acquire an aging Malkin.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

The Golden Knights advance to the second round, updates on the Leafs and Canadiens, the Ducks seek an assistant coach, a Gretzky rookie card fetches a record price at auction, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Game 7 of their first-round series. Mattias Janmark tallied a hat trick for the Golden Knights, who faced the Colorado Avalanche in round two. Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin left the game in the first period with an apparent upper-body injury.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Mattias Janmark (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a close game early in the second period tied at two. However, the Golden Knights scored twice before the period was out and Janmark put it away with two goals in the third. It was a hard-fought series and the only one thus far in the first round to go the full seven games. This was a tough loss for the Wild but they have a promising future thanks to their budding core of young talent.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Nick Foligno remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and questionable for Game 6 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Defenseman Travis Dermott could replace Rasmus Sandin for tonight’s game.

Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans could return to the lineup tonight after being sidelined since Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body) remains doubtful.

NHL.COM: Game 1 of the second-round series between the Carolina Hurricanes – Tampa Bay Lightning goes Sunday in Carolina at 5 pm ET.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Lightning, they’ve ended their policy that restricted fans from wearing gear supporting other NHL clubs in their premium seating areas. This move came after a video went viral showing Florida Panthers fans being asked to remove their jerseys jersey by team staffers during a recent playoff game between the two clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a bush-league rule that never should’ve been implemented in the first place.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said head coach Dallas Eakin will return next season. He’s also looking for an assistant coach who can run their power play.

NBC SPORTS: A Wayne Gretzky rookie card recently sold for a record $3.75 million at auction.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2021

Another look at how this summer expansion draft could affect several teams in the NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently looked at several teams that could be faced with a tough loss or an interesting decision to make in this summer’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Ryan S. Clark previously did a feature examining six clubs that could make side deals with the Seattle Kraken to protect key players. Boylen is examining nine teams.

The Colorado Avalanche needs Erik Johnson to waive his no-movement clause. If he does, they’ll have to decide if they’ll protect eight skaters or seven forwards and three defensemen. Under the former, they could lose a forward like Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, Tyson Jost or Valeri Nichushkin. Under the latter, Ryan Graves could be left unprotected. If Johnson doesn’t waive his clause, they’ll have to go the eight skaters option, leaving the Seattle Kraken the choice of Graves or one of those forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Ryan S.Clark reported Johnson is expected to waive his NMC. The Kraken will likely pass on him given his age (33), injury history and his $6 million annual average value through 2022-23. He also reported the Avs are willing to trade one of their forwards for something decent in return and are open to discussing their needs with the Kraken

The status of sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom and how general manager Ken Holland handles pending unrestricted free agents like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie could affect the Edmonton Oilers’ plans. If Klefbom is healthy and Larsson or Barrie is re-signed before the draft, the Oilers could lose a defenseman like Ethan Bear. Caleb Jones could be protected only if the UFA blueliners aren’t re-signed and Klefbom is exposed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klefbom’s status remains uncertain. Holland could wait until after the expansion draft to re-sign Larsson and/or Barrie. That depends, of course, on whether the Kraken have interest in either blueliner during their exclusive free-agent interview window from July 18-21.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images)

Five members of the Minnesota Wild (Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin) have no-movement clauses. If none of them waive their clauses, the Wild could be forced to make a side deal with the Kraken or risk losing defenseman Matt Dumba if they protect just three defensemen or risk losing a forward by protecting eight skaters. If they’re faced with leaving Dumba unprotected they could attempt to trade him before the protected lists are due.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clark reported Wild management could have discussions with those five players about waiving their NMCs. Having Parise, Suter and Zuccarello waive would be the best scenario. They’re aging players carrying hefty salary-cap hits for at least three more seasons who likely won’t be enticing to the Kraken.

If Dumba becomes the odd man out, I expect they’ll try to trade him rather than lose him for nothing in the expansion draft. Boylen also suggested they could make a side deal with the Kraken by sending them a player to ensure they take someone other than Dumba in the draft.

The Kraken could make a push for Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton if he’s left unsigned and unprotected. If he’s re-signed, he’ll have to be protected and that would leave blueliner Jake Bean available. The Kraken could also have a shot at goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic if pending UFA Petr Mrazek is re-signed before the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun speculated the Hurricanes could hold off on signing Hamilton in order to protect Bean, leaving Brady Skjei exposed. They could do the same with Mrazek to protect Nedeljkovic. There’s a chance Hamilton or Mrazek could sign with the Kraken but their priority could be staying in Carolina.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn could be left exposed if they protect Torey Krug, Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk. If they go the eight-skaters route, they risk losing a forward like Jaden Schwartz, David Perron or Robert Thomas. Dunn was a fixture in the rumor mill this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn could be traded to another club or the Blues could try to work out a side deal sending the Kraken another player to ensure Dunn isn’t selected in the expansion draft.

The Nashville Predators are expected to protect eight skaters to ensure defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Dante Fabbro aren’t available. Forwards Luke Kunin or Mikael Granlund (if signed before the draft) could be protected. Boylen wonders if Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene could be exposed, though the Kraken probably won’t take one of those high-priced forwards without a sufficient sweetener.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take quite an offer to convince Kraken GM Ron Francis to take on Johansen or Duchene. Both are underachieving forwards carrying $8 million cap hits for several more years.

Travis Dermott is expected to be the odd man out for the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, contract negotiations with pending UFA winger Zach Hyman could affect which players they end up protecting. If Hyman is re-signed, they’ll have to protect seven forwards, leaving an extra defenseman exposed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under that scenario they’ll protect Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie, leaving Justin Holl exposed. They could take the chance on Hyman re-signing after the expansion draft to protect four blueliners and leave Dermott exposed. If they sign Hyman, they could try to work out a deal with the Kraken to ensure Holl isn’t taken.

Boylen expects Calgary Flames winger Milan Lucic will waive his no-movement clause to allow the club to protect a younger forward like Dillon Dube or Glenn Gawdin. He also wondered if the Kraken would take defenseman Mark Giordano if left exposed. The 38-year-old Flames captain has a year remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen observed that big changes could be coming to the Flames roster following this season. Those, however, could occur following the expansion draft. As for Giordano, the Kraken could prefer players who fit into their long-term plans.

The Dallas Stars could go the eight-skater option to protect four defensemen if Jamie Oleksiak is re-signed. That could leave a forward such as Radek Faksa, Denis Gurianov or Joe Pavelski exposed. Boylen feels it could be easier for the Stars if Oleksiak isn’t protected or a side deal is worked out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wait until after the draft to re-sign Oleksiak and take the chance that the Kraken will pass on him or else talk trade to ensure he’s not taken in the draft if they opt to protect seven forwards and three blueliners.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2021

Five players who could use a change of scenery, more Victor Mete trade speculation and some suggested changes for the Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FIVE PLAYERS WHO COULD USE A TRADE

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the Calgary Flames’ Sam Bennett, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Travis Dermott, the St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn, the Detroit Red Wings’ Anthony Mantha and the Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen need fresh starts on new teams.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn is among several players who could use a change of scenery (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Larkin but there are various reasons why these players might not be moved this season, if at all.

The Flames are reportedly reluctant to move Bennett because of his value as a proven playoff performer. Larkin also noted if they move him they’ll have to protect someone else in this summer’s expansion draft.

Dermott’s having trouble earning a full-time spot this season on Toronto’s blueline. Larkin points out he’s in nearly every Leafs rumor and would be perfect trade bait to add another forward. The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel suggested a Dermott-for-Sam Bennett swap if they can make the dollars work.

Dunn is probably the most likely on this list to get traded. Larkin feels it’s only a matter of time until he’s moved. The Blues reportedly seek a first- or second-round pick in return. There are several clubs that could use him but finding the right fit is the sticking point. The Blues at this point don’t seem in a hurry to trade him.

Mantha’s a big, fast forward with good offensive skills but his inconsistency and injury history hurt his trade value. So does his $5.7 million annual average value.

Virtanen has come up a lot of late in trade rumors but reports out of Vancouver suggest there’s not much of a market for him. He’s brought that on himself with his poor play. Maybe he’ll finally reach his full potential on a different team but there doesn’t appear to be a general manager out there willing to take a chance on him.

MORE METE SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston lists the Red Wings, Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres as clubs that could show interest in Victor Mete. The agent for the Montreal Canadiens defenseman recently went public with a trade request for his client, angering Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin.

Mete’s been a frequent healthy scratch as he’s become the odd man out on the Canadiens’ blueline. However, they haven’t sent him to their taxi squad because another club could scoop him up off waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Flames with Bennett, the Canadiens aren’t rushing to ship out Mete. They’d prefer hanging onto him as insurance in case injuries strike their defense corps.

Steven Ellis of SI.com/The Hockey News believes Mete would be a good value pickup for teams seeking blueline depth. Those clubs listed by Johnston could be potential destinations for the 22-year-old rearguard whenever Bergevin decides to honor his trade request. However, that move probably won’t happen until the offseason unless one of those clubs makes an irresistible pitch before the Apr. 12 trade deadline.

LATEST ON THE PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked what the struggling Nashville Predators should do to avoid sliding into years of becoming a bad team with bloated contracts.

Vingan believes the Predators should become sellers by the April trade deadline if they’re still out of the playoff running by then. He advocates moving players on one-year contracts (Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, Brad Richardson) for draft picks. They should also consider moving defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who has one year remaining on his cap-friendly contract.

The next step is trying to unload Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen in this summer’s Seattle expansion draft. He suggested using some of the draft capital acquired at the trade deadline and/or throw in a player to sweeten the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vingan acknowledged all of this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I agree with his take. The Predators have been trending downward since winning the President’s Trophy in 2017-18. They’re near the bottom of the Central Division and the overall standings. It’s time for GM David Poile to acknowledge the obvious that his roster needs at least a significant retooling.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 6, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action, the league faces criticism as it looks at rapid testing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals 27 seconds apart by Brad Marchand and Sean Kuraly lifted the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. James van Riemsdyk was the lone scorer for the Flyers, who played without goaltender Carter Hart (back spasms, day-to-day) and defenseman Philippe Myers, who has an upper-body injury. Forward Oskar Lindblom left the game in the third period following a hit from Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton.

The Detroit Red Wings’ winless skid stretched to eight games (0-6-2) after dropping a 3-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Barclay Goodrow tallied twice for the Lightning, including the game-winner.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Second-period goals by Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe gave the Florida Panthers a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. The Panthers extended their points streak to eight games (6-0-2) as they’re the only team that hasn’t lost in regulation. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne made 34 saves.

The Vegas Golden Knights scored five straight goals in the opening 27 minutes to beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson and Nicolas Hague each collected three points for the Golden Knights, who were playing their first game since their schedule was paused on Jan. 26 by COVID-19.

Shootout goals by Ryan Donato and Kevin Labanc lifted the San Jose Sharks over the Anaheim Ducks 5-4. The Sharks overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period goals by Logan Couture, Evander Kane and Brent Burns but Max Comtois tied it for the Ducks.

HEADLINES

TSN: The NHL and NHLPA are investigating rapid testing for players and team staff on game days to flatten the COVID-19 curve after five teams had their schedules paused and games postponed over the past two weeks. A total of 26 games have been postponed, 17 in February alone.

The Buffalo Sabres were among those teams. They were reportedly furious that they were apparently forced to play games last weekend against a New Jersey Devils team that was going through an outbreak of COVID-19. Five Sabres players have since wound up on the NHL’s COVID protocol list while Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger has tested positive. The Sabres had no players on the protocol list prior to the series against the Devils.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports Eric County executive Mark Poloncarz believes the NHL should have taken greater action to ensure the safety of the Sabres and Devils and everyone around them. “It seemed they were more interested in playing a game,” he said.

League commissioner Bill Daly said there were no concerns expressed regarding last Sunday’s games between the Sabres and Devils. An NHLPA representative said league and union medical advisors determined the game could go on based on the information available to them at the time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league announced on Thursday they were taking steps to reduce player-to-player transmission of the coronavirus, including removing the glass behind the benches to increase airflow, increasing the distance between players in dressing rooms, and limiting the time spent at the arena by players and coaches.

The recent postponements and reschedulings aren’t surprising. There’s a greater risk of exposure and transmissions because the players aren’t under the strict quarantine conditions they played under during the 2020 playoffs. Doing more to limit transmission at the arena is one thing but there’s little the league can do to prevent players from exposure when they have greater access to the general public away from the rink.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins defenseman John Marino returned to practice yesterday after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list on Wednesday. Sidelined blueliners Kris Letang and Mike Matheson also skated yesterday.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott (leg injury) will not play today against the Vancouver Canucks.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov required stitches after being struck in the face with a puck during practice on Friday. Canadiens coach Claude Julien said Romanov will travel with the club for today’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

CBS SPORTS: Calgary Flames forward Derek Ryan has been referred to a specialist after injuring a finger during Thursday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

NEWSDAY: The New York Rangers promoted Chris Drury to associate general manager.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Justin Williams is returning to the Carolina Hurricanes as a special advisor to the general manager.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 3, 2021

The latest on Tony DeAngelo, Sam Bennett, Victor Mete, Travis Dermott, Vince Dunn and Brett Connolly in today’s NHL rumor mill.

GROWING INTEREST IN DEANGELO

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the New York Rangers have told Tony DeAngelo to wait at home as they work on trading the 25-year-old defenseman. Dreger said there’s “a ton of interest in him all of a sudden,” with a source claiming the blueliner could be moved within the next few days.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Rangers are willing to absorb part of DeAngelo’s annual salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade. Friedman believes it won’t be easy to move the blueliner as any acquiring team knows there will be heat.

The Blueshirts aren’t looking at terminating his contract as it would be unlikely to do so without the player’s agreement. If they decide to buy him out at season’s end it’ll be at one-third the remaining value as he doesn’t turn 26 until October.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes it might be in DeAngelo’s best interests to enter an anger management program before returning to play given his history of outbursts. He also believes the defenseman’s social media activity could also be a red flag for any organization looking at him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger’s report merely confirms my belief that there is always an NHL general manager somewhere willing to give players with maturity or personality issues a chance provided they have a talent that can address a roster weakness.

DeAngelo’s defensive game leaves much to be desired but his offensive skills make him valuable to a team lacking blueline production. The Rangers’ willingness to eat part of his $4.8 million AAV improves his trade value. Now it comes down to what the Blueshirts want in return and how much salary they’re willing to absorb to get this deal done.

FLAMES IN NO RUSH TO MOVE BENNETT

Calgary Flames are in no rush to move Sam Bennett (NHL Images).

TSN: Dreger also reports the Calgary Flames aren’t in any rush to trade forward Sam Bennett after his agent surprised them over the weekend by saying his client would prefer a change of scenery. It has to be a deal that works for the Flames. General manager Brad Treliving is willing to hang onto him as a potentially impactful player for Calgary.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Flames coach Geoff Ward dismissed any talk of Bennett being unhappy with his playing time. Ward indicated he spoke with Bennett before the start of the season to give him the choice of where he wanted to play in the lineup. He started at center and after a couple of games asked to be moved to the wing.

Friedman also expects the Flames to move cautiously on Bennett, in part because of his playoff performance. It’s also possible any frustration between player and organization could pass over time. The Flames have tested his value in the trade market but held onto him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett still hasn’t spoken about his agent’s remarks while the official word from management and teammates is this won’t be a distraction. This could settle down over the course of the season but it could resurface if Bennett’s play suffers or the Flames struggle to stay in the playoff chase.

UPDATES ON METE , DERMOTT AND DUNN

SPORTSNET: Friedman reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were among the clubs showing interest in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete. He points out the Canadiens’ limited cap space means it would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out deal but they do like Mete. He also added the Penguins were poking around Toronto for Maple Leafs blueliner Travis Dermott.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance looked at whether players such as Mete, Dermott, Bennett or St. Louis Blues defenseman Victor Dunn might make sense as trade targets for the struggling Vancouver Canucks.

Drance doesn’t believe Bennett would resolve the Canucks’ long-term need for an established third-line center. He feels Mete would be a poor fit because the Canucks have a surplus of puck-moving left-shot defensemen.

The Blues’ asking price for Dunn (first-round pick) is expensive plus he couldn’t join the Canucks until after a two-week quarantine period due to Canadian border restrictions. Dermott might not be an ideal fit but he’d be more reasonably priced than Dunn and would join the team more quickly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drance offers up a more detailed analysis than my synopsis but I concur with his take. There really isn’t much available that would provide an immediate, affordable improvement to the Canucks’ roster. That doesn’t mean management won’t stop looking but the pickings appear slim right now.

Regarding Dermott, Drance’s colleague Jame Mirtle feels the Leafs will handle the blueliner the same way the Canadiens are handling Mete. They’re leery of moving him because they want to ensure they have sufficient depth over the course of the season. Dermott also won’t fetch a return that provides a swift upgrade to the lineup.

LATEST ON CONNOLLY

Friedman suggests keeping an eye on Florida Panthers winger Brett Connolly, who was a healthy scratch in their last two games. He speculates a contender could show interest in the 28-year-old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows Connolly is in the second year of a four-year deal with an annual average value of $3.5 million. Teams could be reluctant to take on that cap hit given how tight payrolls are this season.