NHL Trade Speculation Swirling About Struggling Predators
Could the Bruins acquire Jack Eichel? Is there interest in Canadiens goalie Carey Price? Could the Kings pursue Ryan Graves? What’s the latest on the Ducks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa suggests the Boston Bruins should look into acquiring Jack Eichel should the Buffalo Sabres center become available in the trade market. They can only count on aging centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci for only so long.
Eichel’s no-trade protection doesn’t kick in until 2022-23, giving the Sabres a wide selection of possible trade partners before then. The Bruins could fit his $10 million annual average value within their salary cap payroll if they don’t re-sign Krejci and fellow UFA Tuukka Rask this summer.
The Sabres’ asking price, however, will be expensive, with a source suggesting it could cost the Bruins at least Charlie McAvoy and Trent Frederic. Multiple bidders with a deeper pool of promising players and prospects could drive that price even higher.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel would be a great fit between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. I don’t doubt the Bruins would inquire if the Sabres put him on the trade block but they lack sufficient available young players to outbid other clubs. They certainly won’t part with McAvoy. They’ll also re-sign Rask because they lack a viable replacement. They’d still have sufficient cap space to acquire Eichel after signing Rask but it would leave very little room to flesh out the rest of the roster for next season.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL source telling him Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would still like to add a top-four left side defenseman. The source suggests Sweeney will keep tabs on blueliners like St. Louis’ Vince Dunn or Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm but wonders if ownership might limit how much money he can add to the payroll.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn would be more affordable than Ekholm if Sweeney is interested in either guy. The Blues defenseman is on a one-year, $1.85 million contract while the Predator rearguard is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $3.75 million.
TEAMS INTERESTED IN PRICE?
Murphy cited numerous NHL sources claiming several teams contacted the Montreal Canadiens last October about Carey Price’s availability. The Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche were believed among the interested clubs.
The Canadiens are standing by Price, who played well in last year’s postseason but is struggling this season. Murphy wondered if there would still be a market for the veteran netminder if the Habs decided a change of scenery might be best for all concerned.
One source told Murphy he feels Price still has value and could turn things around but his contract would be a sticking point. The best-case scenario would be trading Price in the offseason if he regains his form and plays well the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price has five years remaining on his contract. He also has a full no-movement clause so he controls his situation. If (and that’s a big IF) he agreed to be traded the Canadiens will have to pick up at least 20 percent (probably more) of his $10.5 million annual average value or take back a toxic contract in return to make the deal palatable to the acquiring club.
KINGS EYEING GRAVES?
Murphy noted TSN’s Darren Dreger last week reporting the Los Angeles Kings sought a young, dynamic left-shot defenseman. A source confirmed they looked into Vince Dunn and suggested Ryan Graves of the Colorado Avalanche could be a viable trade target. There’s a good chance the Avs could lose Graves to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Graves could be a good fit with the Kings but I don’t think the Avs are in any hurry to move him this season. As Murphy’s source suggested, that could be a deal that takes place in the offseason before the expansion draft.
UPDATE ON THE DUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens cites a high-ranking NHL executive saying there would be interest in Anaheim Ducks veterans such as Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Cam Fowler and even Ryan Getzlaf. However, the Ducks would have to retain some of their salaries if they hoped to move them.
Stephens believes that would mean the Ducks absorb 50 percent of Henrique’s $5.8 million AAV over the remaining three years of his contract. Getzlaf is a UFA this summer but carries a full no-movement clause and few teams can afford his $8.25 million cap hit.
Players that would be easier to move based on age, contract lengths and past performance include Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. Josh Manson’s been mentioned in trade rumors but he’s been hurt this season and struggled during the last two years.
Stephens said Ducks GM Bob Murray is open to making a deal, pointing to recent reports suggesting shipping forward Danton Heinen to the Vancouver Canucks for Jake Virtanen. The sticking point is Virtanen will make $3.4 million in actual salary next season. As of Saturday night, that deal appeared dead or dormant.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks simply have too many expensive veterans on contracts far too long for teams to absorb under a flattened salary cap. If they don’t pick up part of those salary-cap hits they won’t be able to move them unless they take back toxic contracts as part of the return.
Rakell’s AAV is $3.789 million through 2021-22 while Lindholm’s is $5.205 million over the same period. If Getzlaf is willing to move the Ducks will have to pick up part of his cap hit but could be willing to do so since it’s just for the remainder of this season.
Are the Ducks and Canucks closing in on a deal? What’s the latest on Bobby Ryan? Will the struggling Stars seek help in the trade market? Read on to find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
VIRTANEN FOR HEINEN?
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman weighed in on recent speculation linking the Anaheim Ducks to Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen. The two clubs have been trying to see if they can work something out.
Friedman noted there was talk on “Vancouver Twitter” suggesting a one-for-one swap of Virtanen for winger Danton Heinen. He believes it’s unlikely to happen because of salary concerns.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Vancouver Twitter” being Rick Dhaliwal and Thomas Drance, who cover the Canucks for The Athletic. Dhaliwal mentioned Heinen’s name had popped up while Drance indicated nothing was imminent and momentum in those trade discussions had slowed.
Both indicated the Canucks want to shed Virtanen’s salary. The 24-year-old winger carries a $2.55 million salary-cap hit for this season and next but earns $3.4 million next season in actual salary. Heinen’s cap hit is $2.8 million ($2.775 million in actual salary) for this season after which he’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
The Ducks, however, are understandably reluctant to take on Virtanen’s full $3.4 million for next season. It’ll be interesting to see if the two sides can find an agreeable solution.
UPDATE ON RYAN
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reported Bobby Ryan expects to have a conversation soon with Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. The 33-year-old winger admitted he knew he could be moved before the Apr. 12 trade deadline if he was playing well.
Ryan, however, also said he enjoys playing for the Wings and his family has grown fond of their new home. He didn’t rule out the possibility of returning to Detroit as a free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ryan is the Wings’ leading scorer with six goals and 12 points in 22 games. Those are respectable numbers for an aging forward on a rebuilding club. He’s bound to draw interest from playoff contenders as the trade deadline approaches. Yzerman would welcome Ryan back with open arms if he wants to return this summer via free agency.
LATEST ON THE STARS
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reported the possibility of Roope Hintz not being at full strength for the rest of the season could be a big blow for the Dallas Stars. They’re already missing Tyler Seguin while Hintz is their other offensive center. Seguin isn’t expected back until April. Joe Pavelski can play center but no one else can fill the offensive gaps down the middle.
Stars GM Jim Nill dismissed the notion of acquiring a scoring center, pointing out the difficulty of finding a player comparable to Hintz or Seguin through the trade market. The salary cap is also a limiting factor, especially with Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop eventually coming off long-term injury reserve. Another factor is the possibility of injuries in a compressed schedule.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, don’t expect a big move by the Stars leading up to the trade deadline. Other clubs will also have similar issues in terms of limited salary-cap space and concern over injuries over the remainder of this shortened season.
Making the case for the Leafs to re-sign Frederik Andersen plus the latest on the Ducks in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SHOULD THE LEAFS RE-SIGN ANDERSEN?
TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox believes the Maple Leafs might have to re-sign Frederik Andersen because there are no suitable replacement goaltenders in sight. Nobody will suggest backup Michael Hutchinson is a No. 1 goalie while we’ve seen too little of Jack Campbell’s work to suggests he’s a suitable replacement for Andersen. Joseph Woll may or may not become an NHL netminder.
The Leafs aren’t the only team in that boat. Cox points to a number of NHL teams who lack suitable replacements for their current starters or have a promising one that hasn’t fully developed yet.
Free-agent options this summer include Pekka Rinne, Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington. However, Rinne and Rask are well into their thirties while the St. Louis Blues are unlikely to let Binnington go. It’s also uncertain how well a goaltender will perform in a new city as the Florida Panthers are finding out with Sergei Bobrovsky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but Andersen’s future will increasingly become the topic of speculation the longer he goes unsigned by the Leafs. His potential departure will generate plenty of conjecture this summer over how the Leafs would replace him.
Some Leafs fans are unhappy with Andersen’s performance but there’s no denying he’s played well despite being arguably the most overworked NHL goaltender over the past four years. Questions remain over whether he can carry the Leafs to the Stanley Cup but at least he gives them a chance to win on most nights.
As Cox pointed out, we haven’t seen enough of Campbell’s work to determine if he’d be a better long-term option as the Leafs’ starter. Maybe he is but is he worth the gamble for a franchise whose fans are starving for a championship? Some will argue yes but this could just as easily go sideways, leaving the Leafs struggling to fill the gap between the pipes while wasting the best seasons of their top young players.
If there were suitable replacement options via trade or free agency I would expect Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to pursue them. As Cox points out, however, those options aren’t available. They might be able to land a promising young goalie via trade but I don’t see anyone obtainable right now who could backstop them to the Cup.
The one downside of re-signing Andersen is he could seek a deal comparable to the six-year, $6 million per season deal Jacob Markstrom got last fall with the Calgary Flames. If Dubas can use the next season’s flattened salary cap as leverage to convince Andersen to accept a short-term deal for $6 million AAV that could buy some time to develop or acquire a suitable replacement.
LATEST ON THE DUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently took note of the Anaheim Ducks placing low-performing Adam Henrique on waivers last weekend as a wake-up call to their struggling roster. While Henrique went unclaimed Stephens wonders if GM Bob Murray might try to trade him in hopes a rival club might gamble on the veteran center regaining his form in the right situation with a better roster. They could take back a bad contract with less term on it or retain part of Henrique’s salary but the remaining three years of the deal would be a sticking point. Burying him in the minors or buying him out seems unlikely.
Stephens also believes real change for the Ducks must start with Murray. They’ve got too many expensive, underperforming veterans while many of their promising youngsters haven’t played up to expectations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks are a mess. They’ve been steadily declining since 2017 and show little sign of improvement.
If ownership decides a rebuild is necessary it could start in the front office. We could also start hearing trade rumors involving players such as goalie John Gibson, defensemen Cam Fowler, Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm and forward Rickard Rakell.