Top 5 Goaltenders Who Could Be Dealt By the NHL Trade Deadline
Analysis of the latest update to the TSN trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Frank Seravalli considers the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers among his shrinking list of firm buyers as the NHL’s April 12 trade deadline approaches.
Seravalli believes the Leafs seek a versatile left winger who can play throughout the lineup. He suggested the Nashville Predators’ Mikael Granlund, the New Jersey Devils Kyle Palmieri, the Columbus Blue Jackets Nick Foligno and the Vancouver Canucks Tanner Pearson as trade targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ surge into playoff contention could take Granlund out of the trade market. I still don’t believe the Blue Jackets will part ways with Foligno but you never know. Pearson’s been sidelined since March 17 with an ankle injury. With COVID-19 cutting a swath through the Canucks roster he’s probably unavailable.
Palmieri was held out of the Devils’ game on Sunday with the Washington Capitals as a precautionary measure. It’s believed he’ll be moved by the end of the week. Trade rumors link the 30-year-old winger to the Leafs, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche and the Predators.
The Jets could seek a defenseman, preferably a rental. If the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm isn’t available, Seravalli suggested the Blue Jackets’ David Savard, the Dallas Stars’ Jamie Oleksiak, the Anaheim Ducks’ Josh Manson, the Buffalo Sabres’ Brandon Montour or the Chicago Blackhawks’ Nikita Zadorov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Ekholm’s off the market. The Predators are playoff contenders, their reported asking price of three assets (including a first-round pick and a top prospect) is very expensive, and the extra year on his contract means he’ll have to be protected by the acquiring team in this summer’s expansion draft.
Savard and Montour seem the more likely options here. The Stars are still chasing a playoff berth so I don’t see them moving Oleksiak. The same goes for the Blackhawks and Zadorov.
Sportnet’s Ken Wiebe also included Montour among five under-the-radar targets for the Jets. The others include the Ottawa Senators Mike Reilly, the Detroit Red Wings Patrik Nemeth, the Ducks’ Ben Hutton and the Devils’ Dmitry Kulikov.
The Islanders are expected to use their long-term injury reserve to find a replacement for sidelined winger Anders Lee. They’ve been linked to the Sabres’ Taylor Hall, as well as Palmieri and Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger reported there’s a sense trade talk involving Hall have escalated though not to the point where a deal could be imminent. Maybe the Isles are part of those talks.
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell has admitted he’d like to add a right-handed defenseman with term on his contract and a depth forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manson, Buffalo’s Colin Miller and the New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo are the right-shot blueliners on Seravalli’s list with term on their contracts.
It’s believed the Colorado Avalanche could seek a backup goalie and a little more muscle on defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumor mill linked the Avalanche to Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier and the San Jose Sharks’ Devan Dubnyk. The Sharks could be reluctant to part with Dubnyk while they’re fighting to get back into the Honda West playoff chase.
Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers and Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes are also on Seravalli’s list. I don’t see Kuemper moving when the Coyotes are holding down a playoff spot in the Honda West Division.
Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards believes Driedger’s availability depends on the deal. It’ll also depend on whether they have confidence in promising but inexperienced Spencer Knight filling the backup role as well as Driedger.
Seravalli also listed the clubs he considers secondary, or “soft”, buyers seeking specific needs:
Edmonton Oilers (right-shot depth center), Montreal Canadiens (defensive depth), Pittsburgh Penguins (depth center), Washington Capitals (experience goaltender), Tampa Bay Lightning (defensive depth), Boston Bruins (top-six winger and/or defensive muscle) and Vegas Golden Knights (center depth).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Limited salary-cap space explains why they’re “soft” buyers. In the Canadiens case, however, I wonder how Brendan Gallagher’s fractured thumb could provide some wiggle room to pursue another trade. If he’s out until the playoffs they’ll get $3.75 million in cap relief by placing him on long-term injury reserve.
Seravalli also pointed out the Blackhawks, Red Wings and Sharks are willing to offer up their cap space in return for assets to help facilitate trades.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, those three clubs are willing to take a bad contract off the hands of one of those soft buyers provided it’s packaged with futures like draft picks and/or prospects.
Seravalli also made a few significant changes to his list of players considered trade bait:
The Ducks’ Josh Manson debuts at No. 11,
Red Wings center Luke Glendening rose to sixth while Nashville’s Mattia Ekholm dropped to 10th. Ekholm’s teammate Granlund remains at No.7,
Devils defenseman Ryan Murray debuts at No. 17,
Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson drops from 19th to 25th, and
Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper debuts at 34.
Check out the latest on the Oilers, Leafs, Panthers, Blues and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NO PROGRESS IN NUGENT-HOPKINS CONTRACT TALKS
TSN: Frank Seravalli reported there’s been no meaningful progress in contract talks between the Edmonton Oilers and pending unrestricted free agent Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers apparently made a five-year offer but it isn’t one the 27-year-old center is rushing to sign. Both sides intend to continue negotiations and there’s no belief the Oilers will move Nugent-Hopkins if he’s unsigned before the April 12 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay in Edmonton and the Oilers want to keep him. The term could be the issue here as management could be reluctant to re-sign him to the maximum eight years given the uncertainty over the salary cap over the next several years.
The Oilers hope to unseat the Toronto Maple Leafs for the top spot in the Scotia North Division. They’re not about to peddle away one of their core players regardless of the status of his contract talks.
LEAFS NOT SHOPPING FOR A GOALIE
TSN: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t think the Toronto Maple Leafs are panicked about their goaltending situation and doesn’t believe they’re even calling around for a netminder. They expect sidelined starter Frederik Andersen will return fully healthy and won’t rush back as he did earlier in the season when Jack Campbell was injured. They could reconsider if Andersen suffers another setback. Campbell, meanwhile, is 7-0 on the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs might not be panicked about their goaltending but the same cannot be said about a number of denizens of Leafs Nation. They are practically begging GM Kyle Dubas to acquire a goalie.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk believes the Leafs’ current goaltending isn’t good enough, citing Andersen’s recent injuries and shaky confidence, Campbell’s injury history and Michael Hutchinson’s inconsistency.
The pleas from Leafs fans and observations of Toronto pundits seem likely to fall on deaf ears in the front office. Dubas seems intent on sticking with his current goalies for better or worse.
TEAMS CALLING ABOUT PANTHERS’ DRIEDGER
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports teams are calling the Florida Panthers about pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger following their signing of prospect netminder Spencer Knight to an entry-level deal. Panthers general manager Bill Zito was coy about what Knight’s signing meant for Driedger’s future. LeBrun feels there’s a possibility Driedger gets moved by the trade deadline given the market for goaltenders and his cheap cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on LeBrun’s earlier report, the Leafs aren’t among the clubs calling the Panthers about Driedger. He’s played well, offsetting Sergei Bobrovsky’s early-season inconsistency. Shipping him out before the trade deadline could be a risky move. Knight has considerable potential but lacks NHL experience.
LATEST BLUES CLUES
STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon said it’s not hard to imagine some NHL general managers contacted St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong asking about Mike Hoffman after the struggling winger was made a healthy scratch earlier this week. While Hoffman could entice contenders looking for scoring they won’t offer anything in return that will bolster the Blues’ sagging offense.
Gordon also noted Blues defenseman Vince Dunn has frequently surfaced in trade rumors this season given his long-term earning power clashing with the club’s long-term salary-cap concerns. He could be enticing to teams seeking a defenseman like the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens. However, trading Dunn means the Blues could risk losing a valuable forward to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s NHL expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gordon’s colleague Jim Thomas believes the Blues’ next six games before the deadline will determine if Armstrong becomes a buyer, seller or spectator at the deadline.
As Gordon points out, Armstrong isn’t afraid to make bold moves in the trade market. If he gets a pitch for Hoffman or Dunn that improves the Blues’ scoring punch he’ll be all over it. Finding such an offer, however, might not be easy given most of the teams have limited cap space, just like the Blues.
PENGUINS SHOPPING FOR A CENTER
NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti cites Brian Burke, the Pittsburgh Penguins director of hockey operations, recently telling Pittsburgh Post-Gazette his club is in the market for a center with Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger sidelined.
Burke also said the Penguins would like to add some toughness to their lineup. He indicated the club’s second-round pick in this year’s draft is off-limits in the trade market as they lack a first-round pick. They have depth in defensemen to use as trade bait but Burke isn’t sure he’s willing to use that depth for help in other areas of his roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have played well despite the absence of Malkin and Blueger. That doesn’t mean they won’t be active in the trade market but it could take away some of the urgency to find a center.
No April Fool’s pranks here as we examine the latest notable changes to TSN’s trade-bait list in the NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Frank Seravalli moved Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard into the top spot on his NHL Trade Bait List. Savard’s teammate, Nick Foligno, also moved up two spots into fourth on the list as the Blue Jackets struggled to remain in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The next week or so should determine if the Jackets become sellers by the April 12 trade deadline. Savard seems more likely to move than Foligno as it’s believed the Jackets hope to sign their captain to an extension before free agency opens in July.
Seravalli doesn’t believe Predators general manager David Poile has pulled his players from the board but he could prefer giving his club the opportunity to prove they’re playoff-worthy before the trade deadline. Granlund was believed to be a primary target for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who could be forced to consider other forward options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ recent improvement is also bad news for teams like the Boston Bruins who may have had an eye on Ekholm or Granlund. Like the Leafs, they could end up having to find other trade targets.
Granlund’s status as a pending UFA makes him a more likely trade candidate than Ekholm, who has a year remaining on his contract. The Predators’ rumored asking price of three assets for Ekholm (including a first-round pick and a top prospect) would’ve also turned off some potential suitors.
New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri moved up into the second spot on the board ahead of Buffalo Sabres left wing Taylor Hall. Palmieri’s $4.65 million cap hit would be easier to move than Hall’s $8 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could agree to absorb up to half of Hall’s cap hit if it would facilitate a trade that fetches a healthy return including a first-round pick.
NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss recently made the case for the Bruins to pursue Palmieri, citing his five 20-plus goal seasons and his improved production in recent games. The winger is a pending UFA and it’s been reported contract talks have stalled between his reps and Devils management.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contenders seeking checking line depth are drawn to Glendening’s faceoff skills and penalty-killing experience. It’s believed Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland could have an eye on the pending UFA center.
Seravalli added Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger at No. 12 and Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton at No. 16. The Panthers signing top prospect Spencer Knight could give them the flexibility to move Driedger as he’s is a potential expansion draft target. The Flyers, meanwhile, face a decision with pending UFA Laughton, who’s a versatile two-way forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Panthers will trade Driedger while they’re jockeying with Tampa Bay and Carolina for the top spot in the Discover Central Division. They can always wait and trade him in the offseason before the expansion draft. As promising as Knight is, he has no NHL experience right now. Laughton’s future in Philadelphia could depend upon where the Flyers are in the standing by the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The struggling Blues could turn into sellers if they drop out of contention by the deadline but I still think GM Doug Armstrong sees himself as a buyer.
Armstrong could attempt to use Dunn as a trade chip to add a scoring forward. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He carries a $1.875 million cap hit and surfaced in trade rumors earlier this season following a stretch of poor play.
Bennett could hit the block if the Flames fail to gain ground in the Scotia North Standings. His agent raised eyebrows around the league in late January by claiming his client wouldn’t object to a change of scenery. He could soon get his wish.
The Canucks would probably love to move Virtanen but his poor performance combined hurts his trade value. So does his contract, for while he carries a $2.55 million cap hit next season he’ll earn $3.4 million in actual salary.