NHL Rumor Mill – October 16, 2023
Could the Bruins land Steven Stamkos? Which Coyotes’ players might get moved by the March trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
COULD THE BRUINS ONE DAY LAND STAMKOS?
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if “disgruntled” Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos would wind up playing for the Bruins this season or next. He noted that general manager Don Sweeney was among the bidders for Stamkos when the latter was in his unrestricted free-agent negotiating window in 2016.
An NHL executive source told Murphy that Sweeney “pushed hard” for Stamkos in 2016 and John Tavares two years later. The Bruins GM could look into acquiring the long-time Lightning star if he becomes available in this season’s trade market.
Murphy noted Stamkos expressing his disappointment last month over a lack of contract extension talks with the Lightning. Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois said he intends to open those discussions at the end of the season after he’s had a chance to evaluate the club’s performance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy assumes that Stamkos appears set on becoming a UFA next summer. We can’t rule out that possibility given the Lightning’s cap constraints but I don’t consider it a certainty. BriseBois will attempt to sign Stamkos and could get creative as he’s always done to free up the necessary cap space to retain a core player.
Stamkos came close to hitting the open market in 2016 but decided to stay in Tampa Bay. That was a wise move on his part. The Lightning at that time were poised to become a dominant franchise, going on to win the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021, reach the Cup Final in 2022 and the Eastern Conference Final in 2018.
Despite Stamkos’ disappointment over a lack of contract talks this summer, his first choice remains to finish his playing career in Tampa Bay. A lot can happen between now and next July but I’m not assuming that he’s heading to market until the two sides have had an opportunity to discuss a new contract.
As for trading him during this season, it’s another possibility I don’t dismiss but also one that I don’t anticipate taking place. BriseBois made it clear that he and Stamkos are focused on winning the Stanley Cup this season. Unless things go awry for the Lightning, I don’t see them shopping their captain at the trade deadline unless he asks to be moved.
Remember, Stamkos has a full no-movement clause. BriseBois could ask him to waive it to join a Stanley Cup contender by the March trade deadline but there’s no guarantee that he’ll do so. Just because other players in the past have done so (like Patrick Kane last season) doesn’t mean Stamkos will.
WHICH COYOTES COULD BE MOVED BY THE MARCH TRADE DEADLINE?
The Coyotes hope to be playing meaningful games by then so they might not be sellers at the deadline as they’ve been in recent years. However, if they’re once again out of playoff contention, they could peddle some veterans who are eligible for UFA status in July.
Defenseman Matt Dumba and winger Jason Zucker could be among those trade candidates. Morgan noted that they’re both on one-year contracts and there’s a very real possibility that they return with the Coyotes in 2024-25 regardless of how the club performs this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ve become accustomed to the rebuilding Coyotes trading away pending UFAs or even veterans with years remaining on their contracts for young players, draft picks and prospects. However, the Coyotes hope to make positive strides this season. If they’re in wild-card contention they could stand pat or perhaps become buyers.