Predators No Longer Sellers In NHL Trade Market?
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.
Could Taylor Hall be moved in a trade-and-sign scenario? Are moves in store for the Flyers? Could there be several goaltenders on the move? What’s the latest on the Golden Knights and the Kraken? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TRADE-AND-SIGN FOR HALL?
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Taylor Hall’s agent spoken with Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams on Monday. He said they discussed potential trade options for the 29-year-old left-winger. There are some teams interested in a “trade and sign” scenario.
Adams is also determining what the asking price will look like. Dreger said Hall’s contract becomes less of a cap hit closer to the trade deadline so there could be some upside in that for the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger didn’t specify if the trade and sign would mean Hall gets a new contract as soon as the deal is completed or if it depends on his performance with his new club. Adams’ rumored asking price is said to include a first-round draft pick. He’ll have an easier time landing one of those if Hall is willing to re-sign with his new club.
ARE MOVES IN STORE FOR THE FLYERS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s his understanding the Philadelphia Flyers have had internal discussions whether to acquire a goaltender and allow struggling Carter Hart a chance to reset and work on his game. The next seven games leading up to the trade deadline could be crucial as to whether they want to add to their roster. LeBrun believes Detroit Red Wings netminder Jonathan Bernier could be on the Flyers’ radar.
Frank Seravalli wonders if the Florida Panthers could put in a waiver claim on Shayne Gostisbehere. The Flyers placed the 27-year-old defenseman on waivers yesterday. The Panthers could be in the market for a defenseman after Aaron Ekblad suffered a fractured left leg earlier this week. Seravalli adds Panthers general manager Bill Zito isn’t interested in trading picks and/or prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher must bolster his goaltending depth for his club to remain in the playoff chase in the MassMutual East Division. Hart’s confidence is shot and they’re relying too much on veteran Brian Elliott to shoulder the load. As LeBrun suggests, the next several games will determine if they become buyers before the deadline.
Acquiring a goaltender or another player means freeing up cap space. Placing Gostisbehere on waivers could be that step. There’s also speculation Fletcher could be gauging Gostisbehere’s value in the trade market. However, his $4.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 will be difficult for most clubs to absorb via waivers or trade.
LATEST GOALTENDING SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun looked at several goaltenders who could be available before the trade deadline. Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell could move James Reimer or Alex Nedeljkovic for the right price. LeBrun wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets might move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo and what the Arizona Coyotes might do with Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta. He doubts Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings or Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers gets moved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell could also keep Reimer and Nedeljkovic when sidelined Petr Mrazek returns to action. Never a bad idea to keep three goalies if you can during this strange season.
The Jackets could shop one of their netminders but that’s a move more likely to happen in the offseason, especially with the Jackets trying to stay in the playoff race. Raanta seems the more likely of the Coyotes goalies to be moved given his UFA status this summer but that’s not a certainty if they stay in playoff contention.
The rebuilding Kings aren’t in any rush to move Quick and his $5.8 million cap hit through 2022-23 is a big sticking point in any trade. The Panthers need Driedger as they jockey for first place in the Central Division.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined some possible goalie options for the Toronto Maple Leafs if goalies Frederik Andersen or Jack Campbell end up on long-term injured reserve. Both have been hampered by lower-body injuries in recent weeks.
Rental options could include Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark, New Jersey’s Scott Wedgewood, Carolina’s James Reimer, Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Calgary’s David Rittich, and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. Longer-term options could include Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins, the New York Rangers’ Alexander Georgiev, and the Kings’ Jonathan Quick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve already commented on Reimer, Kuemper, Merzlikins and Quick. Ullmark’s the closest thing the Sabres have to a starter so they probably won’t trade him. The Ducks could move Miller as he lacks no-trade protection but I think that happens only if he asks. Rinne’s not waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers will likely keep Georgiev as Igor Shesterkin’s backup.
That leaves Wedgewood, Bernier and Dubnyk, as well as Rittich if the Flames fall further out of playoff contention by the deadline.
QUIET TRADE DEADLINE FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger reports this year’s trade deadline could be a quiet one for the Vegas Golden Knights. While they’ve been aggressive in previous deadlines, a lack of salary-cap space and the club’s solid performance could lead them to stand pat. Nevertheless, Granger feels they’ll monitor the trade market in case anything interesting comes up.
UPDATE ON THE KRAKEN
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis is getting some calls from rival GMs around the league. He said the calls are from teams “who are trying to feel (Francis) out and say, “Listen, if I make this trade, what would it take from you, that I don’t lose this fourth defenseman, for example”. Francis’ prices, however, are high, in some cases a first-round pick and a prospect. LeBrun said that’s scaring off teams from acquiring another player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would affect players signed beyond this season like Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. There are teams very interested in acquiring Predators defenseman before the trade deadline but doing so would mean it would mess up their expansion draft protection lists.
A look at some potential goalie trade bait, the obstacles facing teams in this year’s trade market plus the latest on the Hurricanes, Jets, Islanders, Penguins and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
POTENTIAL GOALIE TRADE BAIT
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin included Florida’s Chris Driedger, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick on his list of 10 goaltenders who could get moved at the NHL trade deadline. Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Arizona’s Antti Raanta are the others.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger’s a pending unrestricted free agent but I don’t see the Panthers trading him while they’re among the top three clubs in the Discover Central Division. The same goes for Korpisalo and Merzlikins as the Jackets remain in the playoff chase. Besides, they both have a year left on their contracts so there’s no rush to move either guy at the deadline.
If the Coyotes trade Kuemper I believe that happens in the offseason when they could get a better return from a club with cap space. If Miller wanted one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup he would’ve signed with a contender instead of the Ducks. He’s happy in Anaheim and I doubt he has any intention of leaving.
Quick has two more years left on his contract worth $5.8 million. I don’t see much interest in him given the current cap situation. Even if the Kings picked up half of his cap hit he’s still a declining asset with a long injury history.
Bernier, Dubnyk and Raanta are pending UFAs and thus more likely to move. Khudobin could be intriguing to some clubs and he carries an affordable $3.33 million annual average value, but he’s 34 and that contract has two more years on it.
TEAMS FACING OBSTACLES IN TRADE MARKET
NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports most NHL clubs are still trying to navigate through quarantine protocols and a flat salary cap as the April 12 trade deadline approaches. He also adds the cost of top rental players such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Eric Staal and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri could be a high draft pick and a top prospect. Those in the rumor mill with term on their contracts, such as Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, could be more expensive.
Some teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, are in the market to add players before the deadline. The Islanders have additional salary-cap flexibility after placing captain Anders Lee (knee injury) and his $7 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any significant movement by Canadian teams could come by the end of March. If they wait until the deadline any player acquired from American franchises will be unavailable until April 27 after they’ve cleared the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people crossing the US border into Canada. That won’t leave them much time to adjust to their new teams before the playoffs open on May 11.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES, JETS AND SHARKS
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he and Dougie Hamilton’s camp have agreed to table contract extension talks until the season is over. Hamilton is in the final season of a six-year, $34.5 million contract and is slated for UFA eligibility this summer.
Waddell also said he believes his club is close to a contract extension for head coach Rod Brind’Amour. He could be willing to tinker with his roster before the trade deadline, citing a need for a right-shot defenseman and perhaps a top-nine forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell doesn’t have to make any significant moves with his club battling for first place in the Central Division. However, he alluded to team owner Tom Dundon’s competitive nature and desire to ice the best team possible. The Hurricanes will be worth watching as the trade deadline nears. Dundon’s wish to turn them into a Stanley Cup contender could push Waddell into the market.
SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe reports the expectation remains the Winnipeg Jets will try to add a defenseman to play on one of their top-two pairings. The best trade target remains Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. Columbus’ David Savard could be out of the picture given the Blue Jackets’ recent rise into playoff contention in the Central Division.
Another option could be Anaheim’s Josh Manson. Like Ekholm, he has a year remaining on his contract. The asking price for Ekholm will be high while injuries have limited Manson to six games this season. Wiebe also suggests keeping an eye on Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets must be careful taking on a defenseman with term on his contract (Ekholm, Manson, Ristolainen) as that could complicate their expansion draft protection list for their blueline. A rental such as Savard or perhaps Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic might be the way to go here unless they work out a deal with the Seattle Kraken before the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are playoff contenders open to acquiring a fading winger like the 41-year-old Marleau at the trade deadline? He has just five points in 30 games this season.
UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, PENGUINS AND DUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports acquiring a first-line winger remains the New York Islanders’ priority. He believes Columbus’ Nick Foligno could be off the Isles’ list of targets owing to the Jackets’ recent rise in the Central standings. Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson has been sidelined a month, curtailing the Canucks’ trade options.
Sean Gentille, Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t shopping defenseman Marcus Pettersson. Despite their left-side blueline depth, they’re reluctant to move a blueliner given the schedule and need for depth to secure a playoff spot. They also rejected a rumor linking the Penguins to Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, citing the club’s lack of cap space and available assets to pry him away from the Sabres.
Pierre LeBrun reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray could attempt to trade a few veteran players between now and the start of next season as he transitions his roster toward younger players. However, most of those moves might not come until the offseason. Murray admits things are quiet in the trade market due to the pandemic, the flattened salary cap, and this summer’s expansion draft.
Murray doesn’t have many rental players to shop. The Ducks GM could instead look for a hockey deal, with LeBrun suggesting winger Rickard Rakell making the most sense. Rakell is a good two-way winger with an affordable $3.78 million cap hit through next season.