Crosby, Malkin and Letang Dominate The NHL Rumor Mill
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like the Nashville Predators are among the teams interested in Vancouver Canucks winger Adam Gaudette. He also indicated the Boston Bruins were among the clubs checking out Canucks winger Jake Virtanen but he doesn’t know where that stands. He also said the San Jose Sharks had an interest in Virtanen during the offseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Province’s Patrick Johnston recently reported the Canucks have been trying to move either (or perhaps both) Virtanen and Gaudette. However, sources say interest in the pair is “lukewarm at best.” He suggested Gaudette’s lower salary-cap hit makes him “somewhat more appealing” than Virtanen.
Johnston doubted either player would fetch much of a return that provides immediate help for the struggling Canucks. Any player they acquire from an American club would be unavailable for two-to-three weeks due to quarantine restrictions. Gaudette, meanwhile, claims he’s unconcerned about the trade speculation.
Speaking of the Predators, Friedman noted forward Nick Cousins was a healthy scratch from their 6-1 loss earlier this week to Tampa Bay. Cousins has had a rough start in Nashville and Friedman believes there would be interest from other clubs depending on what the Predators do.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Cousins for Gaudette? Discuss…
Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators were looking to ease their crowded blueline once Erik Brannstrom got up to speed. He felt Mike Reilly was the most likely to move but that may have changed now that Brannstrom is sidelined. He also claims they’re trying to move center Derek Stepan closer to his family in Arizona.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Ian Mendes commented on Senators general manager Pierre Dorion’s remarks about Stepan during his appearance yesterday on TSN 1200. Dorion said the center hasn’t requested a trade to be close to his family. However, Mendes also pointed out Dorion, when asked point-blank about Stepan’s status, merely replied he’s a member of the team.
Mendes feels there might be a team interested in Stepan’s services. However, he doesn’t expect the Senators would get much back in return. My guess is a draft pick or prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will include trades and waivers. Hey, Nick Cousins is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. Hmmm…
Updates on Sam Bennett, Tony DeAngelo and Jake Virtanen in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently wondered if Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett would be a good fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He noted Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas reportedly expressed some level of interest.
Despite Bennett’s sluggish start, Fox listed his strong postseason play, the lack of a cross-border quarantine, and his RFA status this summer among the upside. The downside would be Bennett’s $2.55 million cap hit for this season, the Flames’ preference for a roster player in return and their wariness of dealing within the division.
Fox had heard defenseman Travis Dermott mentioned but doesn’t like that option, pointing to the Leafs still aren’t comfortable with Mikko Lehtonen and the need to maintain blueline depth with injuries inevitable. He wondered if the Flames might take a chance on Pierre Engvall.
Eric Francis subsequently reported the Flames have moved Bennett to skating along with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. The move gave hope to Flames fans that his trade request can be ignored or rescinded. Francis said the team has no desire or imminent plans to part with its annual playoff MVP.
Francis points out Bennett’s trade request hasn’t caused a rift among his teammates as they understand his wishes to play a more prominent role. If he plays well with Gaudreau and Monahan, the club’s goal of retaining him until the summer can be met.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s up to Bennett how this plays out. There’s undoubtedly some interest in him in the trade market and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Leafs are among the suitors. However, his inconsistent play this season combined with limited cap space and difficulty trading with American-based clubs because of border restrictions brought on by COVID-19 makes finding a suitable return difficult to come by.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers’ efforts to move Tony DeAngelo have stalled. While there have been some discussions, the trade market for the 25-year-old defenseman has dried up over concerns of fan backlash.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks had reported the Flames were interested in DeAngelo. That gave rise to a possible swap for Bennett but that doesn’t appear likely now.
DeAngelo has considerable offensive skills but his well-documented personal baggage has obviously become a factor. Nevertheless, there could be a GM willing to take a chance on him at some point in this season.
SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports the Vancouver Canucks have placed winger Jake Virtanen on the trade block. However, the club’s current losing skid leaves GM Jim Benning dealing not from a position of strength but one of necessity as he tries to shake up his struggling roster. He also points out Adam Gaudette is being shopped. Both forwards were healthy scratches during Saturday’s game against the Leafs.
MacIntyre cited colleague Elliotte Friedman reporting the Boston Bruins were among the clubs with an interest in Virtanen. However, he doubts the Canucks will get back a prime asset in the middle of a pandemic with the Canada-US border close and most teams capped out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen and Gaudette were both back in the lineup for last night’s game against the Leafs but did nothing to improve their trade value or improve the Canucks’ performance. Even without the restrictions imposed upon this season by COVID-19, I doubt Benning would get anything worthwhile for either guy that would make an immediate positive impression on his roster.
Are the Maple Leafs interested in Flames forward Sam Bennett? Are the Canucks shopping Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette? What’s the latest on Senators center Derek Stepan? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LEAFS INTERESTED IN BENNETT?
SPORTSNET: NHL insider Chris Johnston appeared on Hockey Central on Friday where he was asked about the trade status of Sam Bennett. The 24-year-old Calgary Flames forward was a healthy scratch from Thursday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets, stoking speculation he could be moved soon.
Johnston didn’t feel a trade was imminent but didn’t rule out the possibility. He believes the Toronto Maple Leafs have some level of interest in Bennett but wasn’t sure if they had the right trade piece to tempt the Flames.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Leafs could use a player like Bennett to bring an edge to their third line. He doesn’t expect they could land him in a one-for-one swap of Alex Kerfoot but suggested adding a sweetener could get the deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some suggestion Bennett could be considered as having played his final game with the Flames if he was scratched from Saturday’s tilt with the Edmonton Oilers. He was back in the lineup for that contest, scoring his first goal of the season. Perhaps they were showcasing him in that game for a trade or maybe he was scratched to send a message that he needs to pick up his play.
Cap Friendly indicates the Flames don’t have much salary-cap space. Bennett carries an annual average value of $2.55 million and becomes a restricted free agent this summer while Kerfoot is signed through 2022-23 with an AAV of $3.5 million. If the Leafs are interested in Bennett, the sweetener suggested by Simmons should be picking a big chunk of Kerfoot’s cap hit. However, that might not be possible given the Leafs’ cap situation.
CANUCKS FLOATING VIRTANEN & GAUDETTE IN TRADE MARKET
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports the struggling Vancouver Canucks have floated the names of forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette in the trade market. Given their poor performances, however, there doesn’t seem to be any interest in either player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That isn’t surprising. Virtanen has potential as a second-line scorer but his inconsistency has damaged whatever trade value he may have had. Gaudette showed some promise last season with 12 goals and 33 points in 59 games but he had a disappointing effort in the 2020 playoffs and hasn’t improved since.
LATEST ON STEPAN
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Ottawa Senators are exploring trade possibilities for Derek Stepan. Friedman feels it’s more to do with family issues than performance. “He’s away from his family and I think they want to get him closer.” The Senators acquired Stepan from the Arizona Coyotes before the season began. He left his family in Arizona when he joined the Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet insider Nick Kypreos and Ottawa Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch first broke this report last week. They also indicated this was being considered for family reasons. There’s no indication where they could ship Stepan. It’s unlikely he’ll return to the Coyotes as they traded him as a cost-cutting measure.
Long-time NHL broadcaster Doc Emrick retires, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS: Mike “Doc” Emrick yesterday announced his retirement after 47 years as an NHL broadcaster. He was the lead play-by-play man for NBC Sports’ NHL coverage for the past 15 years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Emrick was the voice of NHL hockey in the United States for many years. He belongs among the all-time greats with Foster Hewitt, Danny Gallivan, Bob Cole and Dan Kelly.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Christian Fischer to a two-year, one-way contract worth an annual average value of $1 million.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed former Boston Bruins winger Joakim Nordstrom to a one-year, $700K contract.
TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs and Ilya Mikheyev have submitted their paperwork in the latter’s upcoming arbitration case. Mikheyev seeks a one-year, $2.7 million contract while the Leafs countered with a two-year, $2 million offer. His hearing is slated for Wednesday but the two sides can continue to negotiate.
ICETHETICS.COM: Photos of what appears to be the “reverse retro” alternate sweaters for the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins have apparently been leaked.
IIHF.COM: The schedule for the 2021 World Junior Championships has been announced, with the tournament starting on Christmas Day 2020.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie has a lengthy Twitter thread regarding which junior players (including those selected in the 2020 NHL Draft) might be eligible or allowed to play for Team Canada by their respective NHL clubs.
Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid rally the Oilers over the Capitals, Vladimir Tarasenko and Matt Duchene sidelined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl’s overtime goal completed a 3-1 comeback as the Edmonton Oilers upset the Washington Capitals 4-3. Draisaitl and linemate Connor McDavid each collected three points in this contest. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin sniped two goals.
Brayden Schenn’s two-goal effort helped the St. Louis Blues defeat the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 5-2. It was a costly win for the Blues as winger Vladimir Tarasenko left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. An update on his condition could be made today.
The Nashville Predators blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0 as Pekka Rinne turned in a 26-save shutout performance. Predators center Matt Duchene left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. An update on his condition has yet to be made. Colton Sissons scored a goal and collected an assist.
Matthew Tkachuk scored twice in regulation and the winner in a shootout as the Calgary Flames nipped the Florida Panthers 6-5. Aleksander Barkov collected four assists for the Panthers, extending their points streak to seven games.
The New York Islanders picked up their fifth straight victory by down the Arizona Coyotes 4-2, snapping the latter’s four-game win streak. Islanders winger Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Islanders activated Casey Cizikas off injured reserved but winger Leo Komarov’s (illness) status remains uncertain.
Evander Kane scored two power-play goals, Tomas Hertl collected three assists, and Aaron Dell kicked out 35 shots as the San Jose Sharks doubled up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2.
Cam Atkinson scored in overtime as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3, handing the latter their third straight loss. Jackets blueliners Ryan Murray and David Savard each had two-point performance.
The New York Rangers ended a five-game losing skid with a 6-2 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres. Ryan Strome scored twice while Rangers defensemen Brady Skjei and Tony DeAngelo each had two points.
Claude Giroux tallied his first goal of the season as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. James van Riemsdyk scored and collected an assist. Flyers forward Michael Raffl left the game in the third period with an injured leg after blocking a shot.
Two first-period goals by Denis Gurianov gave the Dallas Stars a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was Stars winger Corey Perry’s first game against his former club since his contract buyout this summer. Dallas goalie Ben Bishop made 27 saves, handing the Ducks their third straight loss. Ducks defenseman Josh Manson injured his left leg while winger Ondrej Kase left the game with an upper-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov returned to the KHL, signing a professional tryout contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Markov had hoped to sign with an NHL club this summer after spending the last two seasons with KHL club Ak-Bars Kazan.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Luke Glendening is expected to be sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks assigned forward Adam Gaudette to their AHL affiliate in Utica.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes broadcaster Mike Maniscalco underwent successful surgery this week to remove a large non-cancerous mass from his abdomen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Mansicalco has a speedy recovery.
THE SCORE: Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has announced his retirement. He spent 15 seasons in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, and New York Islanders. Seidenberg’s longest tenure was with the Bruins (over six seasons), helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. In 859 NHL games, he collected 251 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Seidenberg in his future endeavors.