Check out the latest Canadiens speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: In his March 31 mailbag, Marc Dumont was asked if Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin will be playing in the NHL next season. He doesn’t see the Habs re-signing the pending UFA winger but thinks he could land with another club as a free agent based on his recent surge of production.
Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin struggled through injuries and high expectations in Montreal. With the Canadiens rebuilding with promising youngsters, I agree that the 27-year-old winger will be better off moving on to another organization.
He’ll likely have to settle for a significant pay cut on a one-year “show-me” contract. Nevertheless, I think there will be teams in need of playmaking skills willing to take the chance on him.
One reader wondered what the Canadiens could do to move up in this year’s draft into the second-overall position as whoever wins the first-overall pick won’t be trading it. Dumont doesn’t see any of the clubs ahead of the Habs in the draft order agreeing to move down unless they get a very enticing offer, such as prospect Lane Hutson or the first-rounder they received from the Florida Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming the Canadiens don’t rise in the draft lottery, general manager Kent Hughes could make inquiries with the teams ahead of him in the order. However, I agree that it will cost a lot to do so and I don’t see the Canadiens parting with someone like Hutson to do so.
Hughes could be willing to move the Panthers’ pick as that’s now likely to be middle of the pack. I wouldn’t be shocked if he used that to land an established young NHL player as he did to get Kirby Dach last summer. Dumont’s colleague Marco D’Amico suggested using that pick in a package deal for Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Dumont was asked which of the following players – Joel Edmundson, Mike Hoffman, Joel Armia or Brendan Gallagher – would be on the Canadiens roster on opening night next season. He believes all four could be back for various reasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: D’Amico suggested otherwise regarding Edmundson. He claimed the Canadiens tried to move the veteran defenseman at the trade deadline but his health worried a few prospective teams and prices tanked once he returned to action. He noted the Canadiens have too much depth on the left side of their blueline.
Those are good points but Hughes could decide to hang onto Edmundson for at least the start of next season in the hope that his trade value improves. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a trade this summer for the right price.
Will the Canadiens shop Joel Edmundson and Mike Hoffman in the offseason? What’s next for the Blues following a busy month of trade activity? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan recently speculated the Canadiens could trade Joel Edmundson this summer if the 29-year-old defenseman stays healthy and plays well over the remainder of this season.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson has a year remaining on his contract with an affordable $3.5 million average annual value. Despite his injury history, the veteran blueliner remained a subject of interest in the trade market leading up to last Friday’s deadline. A solid finish to this season could help his value in this summer’s trade market.
TVA SPORTS: Louis Robitaille raised the possibility of the Canadiens trading Mike Hoffman this summer to the Arizona Coyotes. He also suggested Jonathan Drouin might earn himself a cheap new contract with the Canadiens if he keeps playing well down the stretch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Robitalle thinks Hoffman could help the rebuilding Coyotes turn the corner. Whether they share that view, however, is another matter.
As for Drouin, I think his time with the Habs is over regardless of his play over the rest of the season. The Habs are bringing in younger talent and I don’t see room for Drouin on their roster going forward.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico speculated the Canadiens might be able to sign Sean Monahan to a one-year, bonus-laden contract. Such deals are usually reserved for young players on entry-level contracts or players over 35 years of age. However, the CBA stipulates a player with over 400 or more games played who spent 100 or more days on injured reserve or long-term injured reserve during the final season of their contract is also eligible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some media chatter prior to Monahan’s injury in December that the Canadiens could sign him to a contract extension. They could go that one-year route with him for next season but that will depend on his health status. There’s talk his foot injury may have aggravated a surgically repaired hip.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?
STLTODAY.COM: Following Friday’s trade deadline, Jim Thomas and Matthew DeFranks reported St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes most of his roster is set for next season.
“I don’t feel comfortable that this is the summer to get out in the free-agent market,” Armstrong told reporters. If he does make forays into the market, he’d prefer signing players to one-year contracts to let them prove their long-term value to the retooling Blues. He’s also looking at promoting some players from within the club’s system.
There were rumors leading up to the trade deadline that the Blues would need to trade a defenseman to create more salary-cap flexibility. Colton Parayko’s name surfaced as a trade candidate. Armstrong declined to get into any specific player but defended Parayko.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know for certain if Armstrong was shopping Parayko. It may have been a case of interested clubs expressing interest in the 29-year-old Blues defenseman and Armstrong listening to offers but not hearing anything he liked. Then again, Parayko’s $6.5 million annual cap hit through 2029-30 and his full no-movement clause makes him difficult to trade.
Friedman also believes the Calgary Flames looked into acquiring Meier but they were more interested in signing him to a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who is also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. His current cap hit is $6 million but he’s earning $10 million in actual salary, which is what it’ll cost to qualify his rights. The Devils haven’t yet re-signed Meier which suggests they’ll worry about dealing with that in the offseason.
Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs revisit their interest in Karlsson during the offseason. However, they’ll still have a difficult time making the math work there unless it’s a three-team deal with the Sharks retaining half of Karlsson’s $11.5 million annual cap hit through 2026-27.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kate Shefte cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting there was speculation the Kraken was keeping an eye on John Klingberg before the trade deadline. They were also said to be entertaining offers on Carson Soucy and Will Borgen but both remained in Seattle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Kraken general manager Ron Francis was eyeballing Klingberg before the deadline he can sign him this summer as an unrestricted free agent. That’s assuming he doesn’t re-sign pending UFA Soucy or trades restricted free agent Borgen in the offseason.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS AND BLUE JACKETS
THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu speculated that the Montreal Canadiens could attempt to trade Joel Edmundson during the offseason if the 29-year-old defenseman can remain healthy over the remainder of this season. Failing that, they could try to move him during next season’s trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes will likely listen to offers on Edmundson in the offseason. Much will depend upon the blueliner’s health over the remainder of this season.
The Jackets acquired a conditional first-round pick from the Los Angeles Kings as part of the return for Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov. It could be used before the draft to acquire immediate roster help, or they could plunge into the free-agent market this summer.
The Trade Deadline is 3 pm ET today. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST ON THE FLYERS
THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor explains why the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been active leading up to deadline day. It’s because the Flyers lack the kind of assets that other teams believe should be prioritized. They’re either fall-back rentals (James van Riemsdyk) or veterans with expensive contracts (Kevin Hayes) that can be difficult to move by the deadline.
Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).
TSN: Chris Johnston believes van Riemsdyk remains on the Vegas Golden Knights’ radar. The Winnipeg Jets could also be interested. The Flyers could retain half of his $7 million cap hit to facilitate a trade.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels also cited a couple of sources claiming at least two playoff-bound clubs are interested in the 29-year-old Canadiens defenseman. Edmundson has a year remaining on his contract with a $3.5 million cap hit.
FLAMES GETTING CALLS ABOUT MIKAEL BACKLUND
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve MacFarlane reports there’s some late-breaking trade buzz around Flames forward Mikael Backlund as the club could be trending toward selling at the deadline. MacFarlane cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting that the Carolina Hurricanes are among the clubs calling the Flames to see whether they’re buying or selling.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner reported league sources claimed the Islanders have been in discussions with the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. Isles GM Lou Lamoriello could be looking at acquiring a defenseman. Rosner mentioned a source believes Lamoriello should be looking at Predators blueliner Dante Fabbro.
MORE SPECULATION FROM TSN’S INSIDER TRADING
TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Ottawa Senators are still working the phones. They could be seeking another center.
Darren Dreger believes the Winnipeg Jets aren’t done dealing after acquiring winger Nino Niederreiter on Feb. 25. He thinks they’re still seeking a forward. He also thinks the Vegas Golden Knights could still be active.
Pierre LeBrun reports the Carolina Hurricanes are still trying to add to their roster. However, they have no appetite to part with their first-round pick for a rental player.
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen faces the challenge of a glut of defensemen in this year’s trade market. There’s also a dwindling number of teams shopping for blueliners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets were reportedly seeking a first and a third-round pick for Gavrikov. That price is likely to drop as the deadline gets nearer, especially if the number of teams in the market for blueline depth keeps dropping.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins, Lightning and Leafs are playoff clubs while the Wings are jockeying with several other clubs for a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. It doesn’t hurt to listen to offers for Bertuzzi if they feel they can’t make it but recent reports claimed he was off the table because they were going to go for it with their current group. Maybe general manager Steve Yzerman has changed his mind or maybe he’s just listening. We’ll find out soon enough.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators will have to retain half of Ekholm’s $6.25 million cap hit (through 2025-26) for the cap-strapped Oilers to afford him or else the Oilers will have to shed a comparable salary. Edmundson is more affordable ($3.5 million through 2023-24) but there are concerns about a nagging back injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ rumored asking price is two first-round picks and a high-end prospect. However, the Panthers have no first-round picks in this year’s draft or the next two.
LATEST FLYERS SPECULATION
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRIER: Gustav Elvin cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the market is heating up on Kevin Hayes. The Flyers are apparently willing to retain some of his $7.1 million cap hit to facilitate a trade. The 30-year-old forward has three more years remaining on his contract.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also wondered about the future of Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo. He claimed there’s been some interest in DeAngelo, prompting Friedman to wonder if the Hurricanes might reacquire him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only way I see the Flyers moving Hayes is by retaining half of his annual cap hit. If there is any way for them to move DeAngelo they should do it simply to shed the remaining year of his contract with its $5 million cap hit. Management acquired him in the mistaken belief they could turn things around quickly and become a playoff contender this season. They were wrong and they must acknowledge it.
The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported the Wild had a growing interest in van Riemsdyk, who lives in Minnesota during the offseason. However, they aren’t interested in parting with a significant asset to get him. Russo’s associate Charlie O’Connor wondered if the Flyers could swap van Riemsdyk for Wild winger Jordan Greenway.
Laraque believes Matheson could fetch a first-round pick and a good prospect. Cowan considers it unlikely that the 29-year-old defenseman will be moved, citing his love of playing in his hometown and his deep connection with GM Kent Hughes, who is Matheson’s former agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt there’s much interest in Drouin and Hoffman. However, I said the same thing about Evgenii Dadonov and Hughes sent him to Dallas for Denis Gurianov. So who knows?
I concur with Cowan’s take on Matheson. Hughes could be willing to listen to an offer but it’ll take one heck of an offer to convince him to part with Matheson after acquiring him last summer from Pittsburgh.
Baugh noted the Avalanche could use long-term injury reserve (LTIR) to garner some salary-cap flexibility. That will depend on whether captain Gabriel Landeskog ($7 million AAV) or Erik Johnson ($6 million) miss the remainder of the regular season with injuries.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports the Maple Leafs might not be done dealing after acquiring Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty yesterday from the Blackhawks. GM Kyle Dubas said they’ll remain busy and active to see if there’s any way they can improve the roster before Friday’s trade deadline.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner reports goaltender Semyon Varlamov wants to remain with the Islanders. He has no interest in getting traded and hopes to re-sign with the Isles when his current contract expires this summer.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE Parayko, Krug and Faulk are each earning an average annual value of $6.5 million. Krug and Faulk are signed through 2026-27 and Parayko to 2029-30. Leddy’s AAV is $4 million through 2025-26.
I don’t doubt that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is willing to entertain offers for those four. As Dreger pointed out, however, they all have full no-trade clauses. It’s possible they could be moved but the potential destinations will be limited. Their cap hits could also prove difficult for most clubs to absorb unless Armstrong retains a portion, which I don’t see him doing for contracts with that much term remaining on them.
WILL THE PREDATORS BECOME TRADE DEADLINE SELLERS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the Nashville Predators could become sellers by the March 3 trade deadline if they don’t soon get on a winning streak to salvage their playoff hopes. He believes GM David Poile could be willing to listen to offers on a lot of his players, including Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Mattias Ekholm or Mikael Granlund.
NHL WATCHER: cited Elliotte Friedman’s recent appearance on The Jeff Marek Show where he said he doesn’t think the Predators will move Ekholm or Alexandre Carrier. Instead, he speculated it could be Dante Fabbro “or something else”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The good news is those players all lack no-trade protection. The bad news is that all but Fabbro and Carrier have two years or more remaining on their respective contracts with annual salary-cap hits between $5 million and $8 million per season. Good luck peddling them before the March 3 trade deadline with so many teams carrying limited cap space. I doubt Poile is willing to retain salary on any of them.
Fabbro and Carrier would draw more interest given their more affordable cap hits. They’re both due to become restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer which could also make them enticing for clubs seeking more than a rental defenseman.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens could have difficulty drumming up interest in their trade candidates. Sean Monahan and Joel Edmundson are considered to have the most value but their respective injury histories have teams wary about acquiring them. There’s very little interest in Jonathan Drouin while winger Evgeni Dadonov’s improved play of late might draw attention as a secondary trade target.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens got a first-round pick from the Flames last summer for taking Monahan off their hands so he’s already provided them with draft capital going forward. They also got value for Dadonov by acquiring him from the Vegas Golden Knights last summer as it enabled them to shed the entirety of the remainder of Shea Weber’s contract.
Edmundson is under contract through 2023-24 so the Canadiens can try again in the offseason or next season. There was talk of re-signing Sean Monahan before he was sidelined in December. If they can’t move him now, they could sign him to an affordable one-year deal and try again to peddle him if there’s real interest.
As for Drouin, his plethora of injuries and inconsistency torpedoed his trade value. Nevertheless, the Toronto Star’s Nick Kypreos wondered if the Colorado Avalanche might look into reuniting Drouin with his old Halifax Mooseheads teammate Nathan MacKinnon. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.
UPDATE ON THE SENATORS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion dismissed speculation suggesting he might trade winger Alex DeBrincat. He said the 26-year-old winger won’t be traded. “No chance,” said Dorion, adding the club still hopes to re-sign the pending restricted free agent before the end of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators gave up a lot to acquire DeBrincat last summer. Yes, it will be expensive to re-sign him but they’ll get it done, especially with new ownership soon to take over.