NHL Rumor Mill – January 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 24, 2022

Which Canadiens could draw interest at the trade deadline? What moves should the Flames make to improve their roster? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

  SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli is looking better after returning from an eight-week absence due to a hand injury suffered on Dec. 4. With 21 points in 29 games this season with the lowly Canadiens, Engels expects clubs like the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes could come calling for the proven playoff performer with an affordable $4.25 million cap hit for two more seasons. However, the Canadiens aren’t facing any urgency to move him and new general manager Kent Hughes could prefer to keep him on the roster.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports there appear to be teams in the NHL trade market interested in Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry if he’ll waive his modified no-trade clause. Despite the 34-year-old’s struggles this season and his $6.5 million cap hit, an NHL executive told Murphy that several teams he’s spoken with have an interest in Petry if he regains his 40-point form before the trade deadline. Murphy wondered if the Detroit Red Wings might be among them, citing their cap space and previous interest in the Ann Arbor, Michigan native.

TVA SPORTS: cites Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli saying winger Artturi Lehkonen is the Canadiens’ most in-demand player in the trade market. He said teams see the 26-year-old restricted free agent as this year’s version of Blake Coleman, who helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win two Stanley Cups. Seravalli said he knows of at least three teams “begging” the Canadiens to part with Lehkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli would draw considerable interest in the trade market but the very things that would make him an attractive trade chip are also what makes him valuable to the Canadiens going forward. He recently indicated he wants to stay in Montreal and be part of the solution going forward.

Petry’s age (34) and contract make moving him a difficult challenge, especially given his struggles this season. Retaining part of his annual cap hit would help but Hughes could prefer moving out the blueliner’s entire contract.

Hughes isn’t under pressure to move Lehkonen. However, the winger has arbitration rights and is a year away from eligibility for unrestricted free agent status. He could end up on the trade block if he only wants a one-year deal.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked what moves Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving should make to address their roster needs. He believes they should be looking for a No. 1 defenseman and a top-six forward.

Rosen wondered if Treliving will attempt to bring back former captain Mark Giordano from the Seattle Kraken or try to acquire John Klingberg from the Dallas Stars. Given the uncertainty over Johnny Gaudreau’s contract status, Rosen recommends acquiring a forward with term remaining on his contract. Montreal’s Tyler Toffoli, the New York Islanders Josh Bailey, Seattle Kraken’s Jordan Eberle, New Jersey Devils’ Tomas Tatar and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Gustav Nyquist fall into that category.

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian was also asked about realistic trade targets for the Flames to bolster their scoring. She considers San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl as a player who could provide immediate help but she doesn’t think it’s all that realistic to target him.

Other options include the Canadiens’ Tyler Toffoli and Christian Dvorak, the Vegas Golden Knights Reilly Smith, and the Detroit Red Wings’ Vladislav Namestnikov. She noted Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat might be available and wondered about J.T. Miller’s future with the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Treliving will be a buyer if his club remains in the playoff chase by the deadline. More than a few pundits believe he’ll make a pitch to bring back Giordano, who would be a more affordable blueline option than Klingberg.

As for forwards, I don’t see the Sharks parting with Hertl while they’re still in the postseason hunt. The Flames will be hard-pressed to outbid other clubs plus he has a three-team trade list.

Toffoli and Dvorak are likely staying put in Montreal. DeBrincat’s not going anywhere unless it’s for a massive return. The Canucks will likely hang onto Miller for the remainder of this season if they stay in the playoff chase.

Smith could be a more realistic option for the Flames. However, he will also draw a lot of interest if the Golden Knights move him to free up cap space for Jack Eichel. Namestnikov would be another decent option as he’s tallied 11 goals and 20 points in 42 games this season. He’s a good two-way player who could be an affordable rental option.

Bailey and Eberle carry an annual average value of $5 million and $5.5 million respectively through 2023-24. Nyquist’s is $5.5 million and Tatar’s is $4.5 million through 2022-23. They’re in the early-30s and are declining assets. Probably not the best options for the Flames up front.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 22, 2022

A look at the potential trade value of some notable free-agent defensemen plus the latest on the Blackhawks and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT COULD BE THE ASKING PRICE FOR TOP PENDING UFA DEFENSEMEN?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun pondered which of this season’s notable unrestricted free agent defensemen might fetch a first-round draft pick at the trade deadline. There are a number of pending UFAs blueliners but not all of them could move on deadline day. For example, the Anaheim Ducks could retain Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson as “own rentals” if they’re still in playoff contention.

John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars could fetch the biggest return. LeBrun speculated it could be a package of a first-round draft pick, a prospect and perhaps another pick. He pointed out the Columbus Blue Jackets got a first and a third for David Savard before last year’s trade deadline.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

LeBrun also reported the Buffalo Sabres hope to land a first-rounder for Colin Miller while the Montreal Canadiens wish to net the same return for Ben Chiarot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I would also add Mark Giordano to this list. The 38-year-old has tallied a respectable 14 points in 34 games on the low-scoring Seattle Kraken. It wouldn’t surprise me if a contender in “go-for-it” mode parted with a first-rounder for an experienced blueliner like Giordano.

Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy believes Chiarot would be an excellent fit with the Bruins. Whether GM Don Sweeney is willing to ship his first-rounder to his club’s long-time rival for a postseason rental is another matter. I’ve seen some readers suggest offering up Jake DeBrusk straight up for Chiarot, but if it were that simple that deal would’ve gone down by now.

BIG CHANGES COMING FOR BLACKHAWKS?

NHL NETWORK: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was asked which Chicago Blackhawks could stay or go by the March 21 trade deadline. He’d heard a report claiming everyone was available except Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Seth Jones.

Friedman believes the Blackhawks unprotected list is very small. He thinks at some point earlier this season they may have been asked about moving Kane but doesn’t feel they’re willing to do that. He also doesn’t see them parting with Alex DeBrincat unless it’s for a significant return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Marc-Andre Fleury is the Blackhawks’ best trade chip. They’ve been shopping Dylan Strome for some time but haven’t found any takers. Dominik Kubalik could be available given the decline in his production since his 30-goal rookie campaign in 2019-20. I’d expect they’ll want to hang on to younger players like Kirby Dach and Brandon Hagel.

Kane and Toews each have a year remaining on their contracts. Any discussion about their futures will likely take place during the offseason.

COULD MARTIN JONES BE A TRADE OPTION FOR THE OILERS?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Bruce McCurdy cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman raising the name of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Jones as a trade option for the Oilers during a recent appearance on the Jeff Marek Show.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCurdy noted Friedman didn’t mention Jones during a subsequent spot with Oilers Now. He was probably just musing out loud about trade possibilities.

Jones has a 6-6-2 record this season with a 3.31 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. That doesn’t make him much of an improvement over Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner in Edmonton. Jones’ inconsistency was why the San Jose Sharks bought him out last summer and why he inks a one-year, $2 million deal with the Flyers.

Like the Oilers, the Flyers need to reverse their fortunes soon if they hope to climb back into the playoff race. They could shop some of their pending UFAs like Jones before the trade deadline if they’re out of the race by then but that could come too late to help the Oilers.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2022

Check out the latest on the Rangers and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently examined some potential external options for the New York Rangers to bolster their top six and their third defense pairing.

Possible top-six trade targets could include San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski, Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux, Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell, Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk and Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The availability of Hertl, Pavelski and Rakell could depend upon where their respective clubs are in the NHL standings approaching the March 21 trade deadline. Giroux has a full no-movement clause and it’s uncertain what he intends to do as the Flyers continue to struggle.

DeBrusk requested a trade in late November but there haven’t been any takers yet. Smith could be shopped by the Golden Knights as a cost-cutting measure to make room for Jack Eichel’s debut next month.

To boost the third line, Staple suggested Montreal Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen, though he noted the latter has had preliminary contract talks with the Habs. Other options included Ottawa Senators center Chris Tierney, Arizona Coyotes forward Travis Boyd, and Seattle Kraken forward Calle Jarnkrok or former Ranger Colin Blackwell.

Turning to defensemen, Staple believes the asking price for Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun and Montreal’s Ben Chiarot could be too expensive. Seattle’s Mark Giordano won’t be as expensive but still won’t be a cheap rental. Nevertheless, he could fill a need for the Rangers. Other options include Seattle’s Carson Soucy, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Calvin de Haan, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun, the Buffalo Sabres’ Colin Miller or Detroit Red Wings’ (and former Rangers) Marc Staal or Nick Holden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Staple isn’t saying the Rangers are pursuing the aforementioned players or have them on any potential wish list. Nevertheless, they have the cap space and depth in prospects and promising young players to make competitive bids for one or two of them.

Smith is most often mentioned as a possible rental target given he previously played for Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant when the latter was the Golden Knights’ bench boss. It wouldn’t be surprising if he joins the Blueshirts sometime next month.

SPORTSNET/TSN: Eric Engels reports the Montreal Canadiens search for a new general manager could be resolved in the coming days. He’s heard Daniel Briere and Mathieu Darche are among the three finalists for the job.

Meanwhile, Pierre LeBrun reports the Canadiens are believed to have circled back to player agent Kent Hughes this week after he wasn’t part of their initial interviews. He includes Hughes among the top 3-4 candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lovers of chaos will be disappointed Patrick Roy doesn’t appear to be among the final candidates, though he was among those initially interviewed for the position. The bottom line is the best candidate will be the one who can work best with hockey ops executive VP Jeff Gorton. I’m leaning toward Darche given his experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning but Hughes could also be a good fit given his experience as an agent.

TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault took note of John Klingberg no longer being in the good graces of Dallas Stars management in his contract year. He suggested the Canadiens offer up Jeff Petry for Klingberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg is four years younger than the 34-year-old Petry, who has three more years left on his contract worth an annual cap hit of $6.25 million. Solely on that basis, Stars GM Jim Nill will never make that trade.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2022

Check out the latest on Evander Kane, John Klingberg, Jakob Chychrun, Tomas Hertl, Max Domi and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS AMONG THREE TEAMS INTERESTED IN EVANDER KANE

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning are believed to be the top-three clubs interested in signing Evander Kane. Oilers captain Connor McDavid is said to be on board with adding the former San Jose Sharks winger.

Kane and his agent continue to conduct due diligence here holding Zoom calls with general managers and coaches. Meanwhile, Chris Johnston said it could take several weeks for Kane’s grievance hearing with the Sharks to take place. The league and the NHLPA are comfortable with the winger signing with another club and resuming his NHL career while this process is ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes could also get into the bidding. Meanwhile, there are reports suggesting Kane could sign with the Oilers before the end of this week.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

Earlier this week, there was speculation suggesting the Oilers had an interest in Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher. We can put that to rest if the Oilers sign Kane.

KLINGBERG, GIORDANO AMONG NOTABLE DEFENSEMEN IN TRADE MARKET

TSN: Darren Dreger reports several pending unrestricted free agent defensemen could draw interest in the trade market. Right-side blueliners include the Dallas Stars John Klingberg, Buffalo Sabres’ Colin Miller and (potentially) the Anaheim Ducks’ Josh Manson, while the Montreal Canadiens Ben Chiarot and (potentially) the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller and Chiarot are the most likely to be shopped given their clubs’ low position in the standings. I initially had doubts about the Kraken shopping Giordano but recent reports suggest it could happen before the March 21 trade deadline. I don’t see Klingberg or Manson getting moved as long as their clubs remain in playoff contention by deadline day.

RUMORS TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported there was some speculation that the Sharks could use the money freed up from terminating Kane’s contract to re-sign pending UFA center Tomas Hertl. However, that currently seems to be a premature assumption.

Friedman believes the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche are going to appear in almost every trade rumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s because both clubs are considered Stanley Cup contenders in “go-for-it” mode. I would also include the Florida Panthers, who are linked to Evander Kane and are said to be shopping around for blue-line depth.

Friedman includes the Hurricanes with the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues with interest in Jakob Chychrun. He believes the contract of the 23-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman ($4.6 million through 2024-25) is right in the Hurricanes’ wheelhouse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Ducks and Kings in better shape cap-wise to take on Chychrun’s contract at the trade deadline than the Hurricanes and Blues. They also have more tradeable assets in terms of promising prospects.

Friedman said some teams believe the Coyotes could prefer shipping the blueliner to an Eastern club. However, I don’t think that’s set in stone, especially if a Western club is willing to meet their asking price.

Speaking of Chychrun, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators may have kicked tires but he doubts they’ll acquire him. Garrioch believes he “likely doesn’t fit the bill for what the Senators are trying to accomplish here.”

With the Bruins finally signing Tuukka Rask, Friedman wondered if Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi would be a good fit in Boston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could prefer finding a new home for Jake DeBrusk first. Hey, maybe a DeBrusk-for-Domi swap? If not, maybe DeBrusk for Lawson Crouse? Friedman’s colleague Jeff Marek recently noted the Bruins had been linked to the Arizona Coyotes forward.

Oilers GM Ken Holland all but confirmed he’s not interested in trading his 2022 first-round pick. He’d floated that notion earlier this season if this club was in a strong contender position but that’s not the case now.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2022

A number of teams appear interested in Evander Kane plus the latest on the Flames and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TEAMS INTERESTED IN SIGNING EVANDER KANE

TSN: With Evander Kane now an unrestricted free agent following his contract termination with the San Jose Sharks, Pierre LeBrun believes the 30-year-old winger will want to sign a one-year deal for the remainder of the season. It would be for a bargain price as he attempts to prove his worth.

Former San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

LeBrun also indicated Kane’s agent, Dan Milstein, indicated a number of teams have expressed interest in his client. One of those clubs is the Edmonton Oilers but he doesn’t know if that’ll translate into a contract offer. He said it remains to be seen how many of those clubs come back with legitimate offers. LeBrun believes the Kane camp will take their time to evaluate what makes sense.

Meanwhile, LeBrun’s colleague Gord Miller tweeted he’s heard Kane could have a contract with a new team by the end of this week.

CALGARY HERALD: Michael Traikos reports a source close to Kane said the winger wants to play for a championship contender on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million to $2 million. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights are among the other teams reportedly interested in Kane’s services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I noted Kane’s contract termination and the NHLPA filing a grievance on his behalf in today’s morning coffee headlines.

Despite Kane’s personal baggage and his reputation as a dressing room cancer, he is a proven performer as a power forward. Hence the interest by so many clubs provided they can get him cheap. There were rumors prior to his contract termination of several teams interested in him if the Sharks could find a way to swing a three-team deal to spread around his $7 million annual cap hit.

Some of these clubs, like the Hurricanes and Lightning, have well-respected head coaches who get the best out of their players. Some, like the Golden Knights and Panthers, have a solid leadership core within their rosters who can rein in a teammate’s selfish tendencies.

As Traikos pointed out, some of these clubs (Toronto, Carolina) have taken chances before on players with reputations for underachievement (Alex Galchenyuk, Joshua Ho-Sang) or courting controversy (Tony DeAngelo). For the right price, they could take a calculated gamble on Kane.

The Oilers’ interest, however, has a whiff of desperation given their free-fall in the standings. Goaltending is their primary concern but they could use another scoring winger. Nevertheless, they seem like they’re flailing about for anything at this point that can save their season.

Others, like the Golden Knights, Leafs, Lightning and Panthers, have limited cap space. They could end up having to make a cost-cutting deal to create sufficient cap space to sign Kane.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES AND CANUCKS

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane paused on the idea of the Flames adding Evander Kane and examined the pros and cons of several possible trade options to bolster their offense and improve their blue-line depth.

San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl topped his list, followed by Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux and Seattle Kraken defenseman (and former Flames captain) Mark Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl won’t be available if the Sharks are in playoff contention by the trade deadline. The Flames will have to win a bidding war for his services if he hits the trade block as he’ll generate considerable interest. His three-team no-trade list will significantly narrow the field of potential trade destinations.

Giroux has a full no-movement clause and there’s no indication thus far he’ll be available. That could change by the deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll waive his clause to come to Calgary as a rental forward.

Giordano, meanwhile, could welcome an opportunity to return to the Flames, who reluctantly made him available in last summer’s expansion draft. His agent didn’t dismiss that possibility in a recent interview with Sportsnet’s Eric Francis.

The others on Macfarlane’s list are Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust, Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Rust or Fiala going anywhere. Rust is a UFA this summer but I believe the Penguins will hang onto him for the playoffs. Fiala was briefly linked to Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller in November but there hasn’t been any other speculation suggesting the Wild are shopping him. Doesn’t mean they won’t but it seems unlikely right now.

DeBrusk made a trade request over a month ago but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in his services. Chiarot is expected to be available but the asking price could be a first-round pick. Kessel still has an eight-team trade list and could be reluctant about returning to a Canadian team.

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cites the Toronto Star’s Chris Johnston reporting the Vancouver Canucks are open to the idea of trading backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak. He has two performance bonuses in his contract totaling $1.5 million that will count against the Canucks cap payroll for 2022-23 if he reaches them. His current cap hit is $1.5 million.

THE ATHLETIC’S Rick Dhaliwal yesterday tweeted the Vancouver Canucks have shown no interest in trying to sign Evander Kane.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2022

Should the Flames or Islanders consider signing Evander Kane? Should the Oilers try to acquire Canadiens winger Josh Anderson? Which defensemen could the Panthers target? Will the Penguins go shopping at the trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE FLAMES OR ISLANDERS SIGN EVANDER KANE?

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane wonders whether the Calgary Flames should consider signing San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane after he cleared unconditional waivers yesterday. He acknowledged the 30-year-old winger’s well-documented personal baggage and reputation as a bothersome teammate but observed he’s a proven point producer who could be an affordable free-agent signing.

Will there be teams interested in signing Evander Kane as a free agent? (NHL Images)

Macfarlane suggested the Flames should at least consider that option given their need to add another scoring forward. He felt general manager Brad Treliving should poll his players to determine if they’d be open to adding Kane to their roster. He also felt head coach Darryl Sutter might be able to handle the talented-but-troublesome winger.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner also examined whether the New York Islanders should bring in Kane to provide a boost to their sagging offense. He believes they should avoid him at all cost given Kane has proven to be untrustworthy and disdainful of rules, something that wouldn’t be tolerated under general manager Lou Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks can terminate Kane’s contract without penalty for breach of contract owing to the winger allegedly violating AHL COVID protocols and failing to report back to their AHL affiliate on time. However, the NHLPA is expected to file a grievance perhaps as early as today. It could take several weeks for an arbiter to determine the outcome.

Despite Kane’s reputation as a bad teammate and his off-ice issues, there are reportedly teams that could be willing to sign him to an affordable short-term contract if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. However, I doubt you’ll see his agent receive any formal offers until his grievance has been settled.

SHOULD THE OILERS TARGET JOSH ANDERSON?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered if the Oilers should attempt to pry away Josh Anderson from the floundering Montreal Canadiens. He pointed out they lack a “power forward, mean-streak type in their top six.”

Anderson is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury but the 27-year-old winger is expected back early next month. He’s in the second year of a seven-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million and carries an eight-team no-trade list. Matheson wondered if the Habs would be interested in an offer of a 2022 first-round pick, prospect Xavier Bourgault and “something else.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know what plans Canadiens hockey ops VP Jeff Gorton and whoever he hires as a general manager has in store for their club before the trade deadline. They are expected to shop pending unrestricted free agents like Ben Chiarot but they could entertain offers for players under contract beyond this season such as Anderson.

It probably wouldn’t hurt for the Oilers to contact the Canadiens about Anderson. However, he can’t address their pressing need to reduce their goals-against. Right now, the Oilers need a reliable starting goaltender. They shouldn’t be wasting their tradeable assets on a power forward. 

LATEST ON THE PANTHERS AND PENGUINS

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports the Panthers are in “go-for-it” mode this season and will be buyers at the March 21 NHL trade deadline. The main focus will be on bolstering the blueline.

Richards lists Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun, Dallas’ John Klingberg, Montreal’s Ben Chiarot, Seattle’s Mark Giordano and Detroit’s Nick Leddy as potential trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Richards isn’t confident that the Panthers have sufficient trade capital to win a bidding war for Chyrchrun. He also suggested their limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to acquire Giordano or Leddy.

Klingberg could be affordable in cap hit and return but there’s no certainty the Stars will move him if they’re in playoff contention by the trade deadline. That leaves Chiarot, who has been linked to the Panthers by other NHL insiders.

The Canadiens’ asking price for Chiarot could be a first-round pick, but Panthers GM Bill Zito could be willing to pay that much for a rental shutdown defenseman with playoff experience. His $3.5 million cap hit could also be squeezed into their cap space if they move out another player or convince the Canadiens to absorb half of his cap hit.

NHL.COM: Dave McCarthy reports Pittsburgh Penguins team president Brian Burke is impressed by his club’s recent success this season. He also admitted that it will be difficult for his club to make any significant additions before the trade deadline.

Burke said his club will still be looking in the trade market but their limited salary-cap space will make it tough to swing a major deal. He’s also reluctant to continue borrowing against the team’s future to address present needs. He felt they must stop the trend where they give up a lot for a 20 percent chance of winning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins really don’t have much choice. They’re playing well now but they have an aging core of talent such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang who will soon have to be replaced. Gutting their future for a quick fix will only make the inevitable rebuild much longer and more painful.