NHL Rumor Mill – January 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 28, 2020

The Penguins are still seeking a top-six winger, the Rangers are expected to be trade-deadline seller, plus the latest on Josh Anderson in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS STILL IN THE MARKET FOR A SCORING WINGER

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford remains keen to acquire a top-six winger. While acknowledging there’s no replacing Jake Guentzel, the sidelined winger’s absence leaves a big hole on their scoring lines. “If the right one is out there, then yes, that’s what we’re looking at,” Rutherford said.

There are rental players expected to be available, such as New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider. There are also players with term on their contract that might be obtainable for the right price.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins pursue NY Rangers winger Chris Kreider before the NHL trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Penguins GM isn’t looking to add a defenseman, pointing out Brian Dumoulin will return soon from an injury. He’s also pleased with the play of Jack Johnston, John Marino, and Marcus Pettersson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer. I expect he’ll make a move before the trade deadline.

Speculation links the Penguins to potential rentals like Kreider and the LA Kings’ Tyler Toffoli. They’re also tied to players signed beyond this season such as Minnesota’s Jason Zucker.

I also believe Rutherford still wants to move Alex Galchenyuk. That could be difficult, given the winger’s UFA status this summer and his disappointing numbers this season.

RANGERS EXPECTED TO BE DEADLINE SELLERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks expects the Rangers will be sellers at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, regardless of where they are in the standings. He believes the front office is looking years down the road. “No one in the front office believes the future is this June,” he said.

Brooks expects pending UFAs Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast will be traded if they’re not re-signed by deadline day. He also feels the standings won’t determine if they keep restricted free agents like Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo. He expects management will weigh the value of potential trade returns against the value of having those players in the lineup in the coming years.

Brooks doesn’t expect the Rangers will buy out the contracts of veterans Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal, but perhaps they’ll consider it with Brendan Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks’ analysis is based on what Rangers management has done over the past two years and their salary-cap payroll. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $64 million tied up in 13 players for 2020-21. Re-signing Kreider could push that payroll to nearly $70 million, leaving little room to re-sign or replace their other free agents.

DeAngelo’s having a terrific season, but he’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was forced to accept a cheap one-year contract last summer. He’ll be looking for a big raise this year. They could shop DeAngelo if they anticipate a difficult contract negotiation.

WHAT’S BEHIND THE ANDERSON TRADE RUMORS?

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline says the contract status of Josh Anderson is behind the recent trade speculation swirling around the Columbus Blue Jackets’ winger. He said rival general managers have inquired into Anderson’s status for some time.

While Anderson’s agent claims there’s no lingering resentment toward Jackets management following their difficult 2017 contract negotiations, the 25-year-old winger holds the hammer this time around. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. That’s why most NHL executives contacted by The Athletic expect Anderson could be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline or during this summer, perhaps at the NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson’s performance this season has been hampered by injuries, but he steadily improved over the previous three years, tallying 27 goals and 47 points in 82 games last season. With the Jackets jockeying for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, they could retain Anderson for the remainder of this season. Should they slide in the standings, however, they could entertain serious trade offers.