NHL Flat Cap Fallout – Central Division
In today’s NHL rumor mill, we take a look at the latest Blues speculation plus several suggested second-line center and defense targets for the Jets.
LATEST ON THE BLUES
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat, Tom Timmermann was asked if the St. Louis Blues could trade Jaden Schwartz, Jake Allen, or both as cost-cutting measures.
He feels trading Allen would be the easiest solution to freeing up salary-cap space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo. The improvement in his play this season could improve his trade value.
If Schwartz intends to seek a significant raise on his next contract in 2021, the Blues could be forced to move him. Trading him early when a team can get a full season out of him before his contract expires would improve his value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $79.4 million invested in 20 players, with Pietrangelo and RFA blueliner Vince Dunn their priorities to re-sign. Shedding Schwartz ($5.35 million through 2020-21, 15-team no-trade list) and Allen ($4.35 million through 2020-21) would free up $9.7 million in cap room. That’s enough to re-sign Pietrangelo, but not for Dunn.
Unless Blues management intends to let Pietrangelo walk after this season, they’ll probably have to dump around $14 million to retain their cap, re-sign Dunn, and leave sufficient cap space for other roster moves next season.
SECOND-LINE CENTER & DEFENSE OPTIONS FOR THE JETS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Murat Ales suggested 16 candidates to address the Winnipeg Jets’ second-line center position for 2020-21.
In-house options include Bryan Little, Andrew Copp, and Jack Roslovic.
Unrestricted free agent possibilities include re-signing Cody Eakin or pursuing the Islanders’ Derick Brassard, Minnesota’s Alex Galchenyuk, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, Arizona’s Carl Soderberg or Florida’s Erik Haula.
Trade options include Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson, Montreal’s Max Domi, or Dallas’ Roope Hintz.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic could be the most likely in-house option. He wants to move up into the Jets’ top-six. It might be worthwhile to give him that opportunity. If it doesn’t work, they can turn to the in-season trade market.
Granlund might be the best of those proposed UFA options, though he’s spent more time on the wing in recent years. Unless Johnson waives his no-trade clause, he’s not going to Winnipeg. Despite the speculation in the Montreal media over Domi’s future with the Habs, I think they’ll re-sign him. The Stars aren’t moving Hintz, as the big 23-year-old sophomore winger is blossoming into one of their core forwards.
Ken Wiebe (subscription required) looks at 10 defense options via the off-season free-agent and trade markets. The UFAs include Washington’s Brenden Dillon, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, and Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk. His trade targets include Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Carolina’s Jake Gardiner, New Jersey’s Damon Severson, and Minnesota’s Matt Dumba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dillon, Hamonic, and Barrie could be reasonable options. Hamonic is a Manitoba native and could be keen on returning home if the Flames don’t re-sign him.
I don’t see the Ducks parting with Manson, the Devils with Severson, or the Wild with Dumba. Given the state of their respective bluelines, they need those rearguards if they hope to be competitive next season. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, might gladly listen to offers for Gardiner, but I doubt the Jets’ management would be interested in him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a failed attempt to acquire Zucker last May, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford gets his man.The 28-year-old winger is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $5.5 million. With 14 goals and 29 points in 45 games this season, he’s on pace to exceed 20 goals and 40 points for the fourth consecutive year. Depending on how well he meshes with his new linemates (Sidney Crosby? Evgeni Malkin?), he could finish with much more.
Rutherford recently indicated he was in the market for a scoring winger after left winger Jake Guentzel suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Zucker skates on the right side, but Rutherford suggested the versatility of his existing wingers meant he wasn’t fussy over which side his trade target played. Perhaps this means Patric Hornqvist or Bryan Rust move to the left side to make room for Zucker.
With over $68.9 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, the addition of Zucker could leave the Penguins squeezed for salary-cap space. Goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer. Both will seek substantial raises, meaning one could be traded this summer. Defenseman Justin Schultz is an unrestricted free agent and could price himself out of Pittsburgh unless Rutherford frees up more cap space.
That’s a problem for the off-season. For now, the Penguins signaled they’re a serious contender for the Stanley Cup this season.
The Wild, meanwhile, have needed a roster rebuild for some time. Whether trading Zucker means this is the start of a full rebuild or merely another effort to retool on the fly remains to be seen.
It’s the first significant move by Bill Guerin since taking over as GM last summer. In Galchenyuk, he gets a winger with decent offensive skills who’s now on his fourth team since 2018. Slated to become a UFA this summer, the 26-year-old was sidelined by an injury to start this season and struggled upon his return to fit in with the talent-laden Penguins. Depending on his performance over the remainder of the schedule, he could be joining his fifth team this summer.
Reports indicate the first-round pick in 2020 could revert to 2021 if the Penguins miss the playoffs and decide to push it back a year. That’s unlikely, considering where the Penguins are in the standings. It’ll give the Wild two first-round picks in this year’s draft.
Addison could be the real prize for the Wild. Selected in the second round (53rd overall) by the Penguins in 2018, the 19-year-old is said to a top defensive prospect. He’s got 43 points in 39 games this season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes and helped Canada win gold at the 2020 World Junior Championships.
The latest on the Stars, Hurricanes, and Panthers, plus updates on Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Andreas Athanasiou and Pavel Buchnevich in today’s NHL rumor mill.
POSSIBLE STARS TRADE TARGETS
NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Heika was asked which players the Dallas Stars could target to bolster their offense before the Feb, 24 trade deadline.
He listed New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad as the three easiest targets, though they’re also going to cost the most in terms of draft picks and prospects. He also suggested Montreal’s Ilya Kovalchuk or Pittsburgh’s Alex Galchenyuk as bargain options.
THE ATHLETIC: Sean Shapiro suggests it could cost the Stars a first-round pick or a young NHL-ready forward for Kreider. The New Jersey Devils could seek a return for Kyle Palmieri comparable to what they got for Taylor Hall. In other words, a first-round pick or a conditional pick that could become a first, a good prospect or young player, and perhaps a second-round selection.
The asking price for Toffoli could be a second-round pick and a B-level prospect. Galchenyuk could cost a conditional fourth-rounder. It could take a first-round pick to get winger Josh Anderson from the Columbus Blue Jackets or center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars GM Jim Nill doesn’t sound keen to part with first-round picks. He also lacks second- and third-round picks in this year’s draft. I don’t doubt he’s monitoring the trade market, but he could be looking for bargains.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS FOR PAGEAU
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently examined the potential trade market for Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He’s skeptical the Sens could get a first-round pick in return because many GMs are reluctant to part with such picks this year.
Some clubs that could be a good fit for Pageau, such as the Edmonton Oilers, aren’t guaranteed to reach this year’s playoffs, making them unwilling to part with a first-rounder for a rental player. LeBrun speculates they could try to make it work with a conditional second based on how far the Oilers advance in the 2020 playoffs.
LeBrun also listed the New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, and Calgary Flames as possible landing spots for Pageau. Conditions could also apply with those clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pageau is enjoying a career season in his contract year, but the ongoing assessment among observers is he’s best suited for second- or third-line duty. A legitimate playoff contender won’t give up a first-round selection for a depth player, or at least, they shouldn’t give up that much. If the Senators shop him, perhaps they’ll attempt to land a promising young player and a decent prospect.
COULD THE RANGERS SHOP BUCHNEVICH?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Pavel Buchnevich could be part of the Rangers’ trade-deadline plans. He speculates they could opt to trade the 24-year-old winger’s skill game for one “with a more north-south, hard-hat mentality.” Brooks also acknowledged Buchnevich’s talent and affordable $3.25-million annual average value could make him worth retaining.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After tallying career-high 21 goals last season, Buchenvich is on pace for 15 in 2019-20. He’s also on track for 45 points, which would be eight more than what he had in 2018-19. He’s in the first year of a two-year contract and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer.
Rangers management isn’t under any pressure to move him. One can’t dismiss the possibility of Buchnevich getting traded, but that move might be better suited for the off-season when he might fetch a better return.
COULD THE OILERS PURSUE ATHANASIOU?
KUKLA’S KORNER: cites tweets by Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson linking the Oilers to Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou. He thinks Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to add more speed to his forward lines. Athanasiou is having a lousy year in Detroit, but Matheson considers him a top-six forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As former Red Wings GM, Holland also knows Athanasiou’s strengths and weaknesses. The versatile 25-year-old tallied a career-high 30 goals last season. He’s currently sidelined by a lower-body injury but could be a good addition to the Oilers once he returns to action. He’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer, which could complicate his future in Detroit, Edmonton, or wherever he finishes this season.
WHAT WILL THE PANTHERS DO AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?
THE ATHLETIC: George Richards took note of recent speculation suggesting the Florida Panthers could move either Mike Hoffman or Evgenii Dadonov at the trade deadline. Both are unrestricted free agents in July and the Panthers might not be able to re-sign them both.
With the Panthers jockeying for playoff positioning, Richards doesn’t see either winger getting shopped unless it’s for a return (such as a defenseman) that will be important for the club going forward. He also points out the Panthers’ limited salary-cap space will affect any attempts to make a move or two at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers only have over $892K in deadline cap room. If they swing a deal for a defenseman, it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. It’ll take a considerable offer to convince GM Dale Tallon to part with Hoffman or Dadonov.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined how losing defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a fractured fibula could affect Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell’s trade plans. Waddell admitted he was in the market for a defenseman before Hamilton’s injury, but his absence could change the type of player he could target in the trade market.
Gretz observes there are limited options in the trade market to address even a fraction of the offense Hamilton brought to the Hurricanes’ blueline. The best rental option could be New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen. Waddell is reluctant to place Hamilton on long-term injury reserve as he could return before the end of the season.
Turning to the forward lines, the return of Justin Williams provides a boost, as could a bounce-back second half from winger Nino Niederreiter.