NHL Rumor Mill – March 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 26, 2021

The latest on Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri plus updates on the Canadiens, Oilers, Flyers and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HALL AND PALMIERI

SPORTSNET: Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall said he would “for sure” listen if general manager Kevyn Adams approached him about trade options. His comments came following the Sabres 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Hall indicated he’d also be open to re-signing with the Sabres. Perhaps the strain of 16 consecutive losses has changed his mind. The 29-year-old winger has a full no-movement clause and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. There’s speculation the New York Islanders could be interested in his services.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the New Jersey Devils and Kyle Palmieri aren’t close to a new contract. He’s told the two sides are struggling to find common ground due to the flattened salary cap and uncertainty over what contracts could look like moving forward. LeBrun considers it more likely Palmieri gets moved by the April 12 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palmieri is completing a five-year deal with an annual average value of $4.65 million. A five-time 20-plus goal scorer who can skate on either wing, the 30-year-old winger would be a very enticing rental player for playoff contenders seeking scoring punch.

WILL THE CANADIENS BE BUYERS AT THE DEADLINE?

TSN: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin told reporters yesterday he doesn’t expect to be busy leading up to the trade deadline due to salary-cap constraints.

TVA SPORTS: Maxim Lapierre believes Bergevin could make a move despite his comments to reporters. Lapierre believed the Habs GM is on the hot seat and maintaining the status quo isn’t an option. He feels the club needs a fourth-line center or a veteran third-line forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d argue landing a reliable top-four, left-side defenseman is the greater need for the Canadiens. Regardless, a number of pundits aren’t buying the notion that Bergevin won’t do something before the deadline.

Bergevin could strike if the opportunity presents itself. Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $3.5 million in projected trade deadline cap space. They also carry plenty of tradeable assets in draft picks (11 between rounds two and five) and promising prospects.

LATEST ON THE OILERS, FLYERS AND SENATORS

TSN: Frank Seravalli believes the Edmonton Oilers are looking for a right-shot center who can win faceoffs and help them kill penalties. He proposed Detroit’s Luke Glendening, Vancouver’s Brandon Sutter and Calgary’s Derek Ryan as three options, though the latter two carry higher salary-cap hits than Glendening. Seravalli points out the Oilers traded away their second, third, and fifth-round picks in this year’s draft “so they’d like to do all that with a fourth-round pick if they can.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers GM Ken Holland undoubtedly wants to bolster his lineup before the trade deadline. That will be difficult given their limited cap space and shortage of picks in this year’s draft.

Holland will have to get creative, including perhaps moving out a roster player or dipping into his 2022 draft picks. I also don’t see the Canucks or Flames dealing with the Oilers as long as they remain in playoff contention.

PHILADELPHIA HOCKEY NOW: Ryan Gilbert reports Flyers assistant GM Brent Flahr was among a number of scouts at the Arizona Coyotes game against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. He speculates Flahr could’ve been checking Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski or Jason Demers. The Flyers kicked tires on Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson during the offseason but he has a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers won’t be buyers if they continue to struggle in the MassMutual East Division. The New York Rangers have overtaken them for fifth place.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators have placed Christian Wolanin on waivers for the purpose of sending him to their AHL affiliate in Belleville or moving him to their taxi squad. He said they’ve been trying to trade the 26-year-old defenseman for the last little while but couldn’t find anyone willing to give up any assets.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2021

A look at several noteworthy names on TSN’s updated trade bait list plus updates on the Penguins and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ANALYSIS OF TSN’S UPDATED TRADE-BAIT LIST

TSN: Mattias Ekholm remains atop the updated trade-bait list. Pierre LeBrun recently reported the Nashville Predators seek three assets (including a first-round pick and a top prospect) for the 30-year-old defenseman.

Meanwhile, winger Mikael Granlund rises to No. 3 as Frank Seravalli reported he’s the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. Seravalli also pointed out the Predators’ recent surge in the standings have them in wait-and-see mode.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No mention of Nashville blueliner Ryan Ellis on TSN’s list. The Athletic’s Adam Vingan observed Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if Ellis might be available. Vingan weighed the pros and cons of trading either defenseman. He also pointed out the Preds are under no obligation to do so given their recent improvement in the standings and the term remaining on both rearguard’s contracts.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski rose to No. 8 on the list as Darren Dreger reported Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong could look at making changes at the deadline or in the offseason.

Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No mention of Coyotes winger Conor Garland on this list. A recent report by Elliotte Freidman speculating over Garland’s availability has BostonHockeyNow’s Joe Haggerty and NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss suggesting the winger would be a good trade target for the Bruins.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard sits No. 2 on the list with teammate Nick Foligno at No. 6. New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri remains at No. 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pierre LeBrun, in his column for The Athletic, suggested Foligno or Palmieri could be targeted by New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello if they become available. He and Elliotte Friedman both reported the Bue Jackets could be reluctant to part with Foligno. With the Jackets back in the playoff race they could also retain Savard. It remains to be seen, meanwhile, whether the Devils will trade or re-sign Palmieri.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier remains No. 5 and San Jose Sharks netminder Devan Dubnyk sits at No. 16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Washington listed Bernier and Dubnyk among possible goalie trade targets for the Washington Capitals. Others include Buffalo’s Carter Hutton, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Calgary’s David Rittich.

Given the Capitals’ limited cap space, any deal they make will be dollar-in, dollar-out. I rule out Rinne because of his no-movement clause and desire to finish his career with the Predators. I don’t see the Flames moving Rittich as long as they have a shot at a playoff spot.

Ottawa Senators winger Ryan Dzingel rose to No. 11.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch considers it doubtful Dzingel will get traded. He feels teams will be more interested in getting blueline help before the deadline, suggesting Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly and Erik Gudbranson could be targeted by playoff clubs.

Buffalo Sabres center Eric Staal remains at No. 18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal carries a 10-team no-trade list but it’s believed he could be willing to waive it to go to a contender. However, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski recently reported Sabres GM Kevyn Adams hasn’t asked Staal about it. Maybe Adams is waiting until the deadline draws closer. Then again, maybe no one’s called the Sabres about the 36-year-old center.

UPDATES ON THE PENGUINS AND FLYERS

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Brian Burke, the Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations, dismisses speculation this year’s trade deadline could be a quiet one around the league, suggesting business could soon pick up. He said general manager Ron Hextall is working the phones as they’ll try to add at the trade deadline if they can. Burke indicated he and Hextall would like to bring some size to their roster.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher took accountability for his club’s struggles this season. He cited his inability to replace retired defenseman Matt Niskanen as a significant factor. Fletcher said he’s not looking at selling right now, adding the trade market is very quiet. He indicated he’s willing to upgrade his team if a deal makes sense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are rising in the standings, emboldening their front office to try to augment their lineup at the trade deadline. The Flyers, meanwhile, could go either way, which explains Fletcher’s position. They’re still in the playoff chase but must gain ground over the next couple of weeks for their GM to consider investing futures for immediate help.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 13, 2021

The latest on Matt Dumba, Eric Staal, Max Domi and Jonathan Bernier, plus updates on the Sabres and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON DUMBA, STAAL, MANSON, MERZLIKINS AND RAANTA

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Craig Custance and Eric Duhatschek updated their NHL Trade Deadline Big Board. Several notable additions include Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Buffalo Sabres center Eric Staal, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins and Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba’s on this list because of the difficulty facing the Wild in protecting him in the expansion draft. With the team playing well, however, general manager Bill Guerin could be reluctant to make a significant move that might upset team chemistry. He could wait until the offseason, perhaps around the NHL Draft, to trade Dumba before the expansion draft.

Staal’s garnered plenty of attention in the rumor mill with recent speculation tying him to the Edmonton Oilers and his former club, the Carolina Hurricanes. I consider him most likely to move among the newbies on The Athletic’s list.

Injuries have limited Manson to six games this season. Custance and Duhatschek noted there is precedent for teams to acquire an injured defenseman at the trade deadline (Sami Vatanen). However, the year he has remaining on his contract could create headaches for teams trying to protect their defensemen in this summer’s expansion draft.

The Blue Jackets’ fading playoff hopes could lead to them moving Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo at the deadline. With a year left on his contract at an affordable $4 million, he could be enticing for teams seeking goalie depth beyond this season.

The Coyotes could consider shopping Raanta as he’s due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, that’s not a certainty with starter Darcy Kuemper sidelined and the Coyotes trying to stay in the playoff chase.

UPDATES ON THE SABRES AND COYOTES

WGR 550: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Buffalo Sabres are trying to determine the value of all their players and where they fit into the club’s long-term plans. He believes GM Kevyn Adams is receiving calls and could be calling other clubs to see what the trade value is for his players.

He believes Eric Staal “will be motivated to go somewhere and play”. He expects the Sabres could get a second-round pick for him but this is a buyer’s market. Friedman also wonders if the club sees Sam Reinhart as part of their future with or without Jack Eichel. He thinks there is interest in the Sabres’ winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Staal isn’t playing elsewhere by April 12. As for Reinhart, I don’t doubt there’s plenty of interest. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights but there are bound to be some teams seeking scoring with available cap space to give him a lucrative extension if the Sabres get a quality offer for him.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked about the recent Clayton Keller trade rumors, Morgan doesn’t believe the 22-year-old forward is high on the trade board. He has seven years left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.15 million.

Asked about what moves the Coyotes could make at this year’s trade deadline. He anticipates GM Bill Armstrong will try to ship out as many players on expiring contracts as possible in exchange for draft picks as he restocks the prospect cupboard. However, he feels Armstrong could add a player if the right opportunity presents itself.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, look for guys like Raanta, Niklas Hjalmarsson (if he waives his no-movement clause), Alex Goligoski, Derick Brassard and Jason Demers to become the Coyotes’ trade candidates.

Goligoski recently surfaced in trade speculation. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun recently said he believes the Philadelphia Flyers have him on their list of potential targets. He’s a left-handed shot but can play either side. However, his $5.475 million AAV (with currently $2.69 million remaining to be paid) could be a sticking point.

LATEST ON DOMI AND BERNIER

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline listed Max Domi in the “Available” category of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ trade tiers. He’s made very little impact since joining the Jackets in an offseason trade with Montreal. Given Domi’s struggles, however, Portzline believes they’d have to sell low and that would cement the Josh Anderson trade as one of the worst in franchise history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some players thrive under a demanding coach like John Tortorella. Some don’t. Domi is in the latter category. Given his inconsistent play throughout his career, however, his trade value is likely at an all-time low.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan believed Jonathan Bernier will draw plenty of interest around the league from contenders seeking goaltending depth. He thinks they might even get a second-round pick for the pending free agent. Moving him would weaken the Wings’ depth between the pipes but they could attempt to bring him back this summer via the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Colorado Avalanche could be among the suitors. The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers suggested bringing him back for the playoffs. However, The Athletic’s Peter Baugh pointed out the Avs’ limited salary cap space could make it difficult for GM Joe Sakic to wheel and deal at the deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 12, 2021

A look at some suggested trade targets for the Leafs and Bruins, speculation of Eric Staal returning to the Hurricanes and the latest on the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED TRADE TARGETS FOR THE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs should look at acquiring Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres for Alex Kerfoot, a pick and a prospect plus 50 percent of Hall’s $8 million cap hit retained. Depending on the pick and prospect, it could be a high price for the Leafs (or any team) to pay for a playoff rental. Hall’s full no-movement clause makes moving him by April 12 challenging but Fox believes he’d waive it to join the Leafs.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox is betting on the Leafs adding another top-six forward. However, I doubt it’ll be Hall unless Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and his capologist can pull off another creative move to free up the necessary cap space to acquire him. The Leafs are pressed against the cap with almost nothing banked for trade-deadline cap space.

They could consider more affordable options to bring in a top-six forward. Fox cited Elliotte Friedman saying they’re poking around sellers like the Nashville Predators, Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. They’ve been frequently linked for Predators forward Mikael Grandlund. If they’re looking at one of the Sabres my guess is it would be Eric Staal. Fox also tossed out Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri as other options but I’m not sure either guy is available right now despite their pending free-agent statuses.

SUGGESTED TRADE TARGETS FOR THE BRUINS.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss included Hall, Granlund and Palmieri among his list of suggested trade targets for the Bruins. He also included Nashville forwards Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson and defenseman Mattias Ekholm, Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell, Vancouver Canucks winger Tanner Pearson, Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard and Arizona Coyotes rearguard Alex Goligoski.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Hall, Forsberg, Arvidsson or Palmieri as realistic trade options for the Bruins. Hall’s contract is a problem while the Preds’ asking price for Forsberg and Arvidsson will be far too expensive. The Bruins also lack sufficient tradeable assets to win a bidding war for Palmieri. I’d include Rakell in that group but Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and Ducks GM Bob Murray have a recent trade history so I won’t fully dismiss that possibility.

The Bruins could use some experienced blueline depth. However, the need for scoring depth is the priority so I’m ruling out Ekholm, Savard or Goligoski. That leaves Granlund or Pearson as their more realistic trade options.

A STAAL REUNION IN CAROLINA?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Carolina Hurricanes have internally discussed the possibility of bringing back Eric Staal, though it’s not a “top-of-the-agent” item. However, there could be a couple of Canadian teams that could have interest in the Sabres center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eric Staal spent nearly 12 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Hurricanes. He enjoyed his best years in Carolina, winning a Stanley Cup in 2006 and wearing the captaincy for seven seasons. A reunion with brother and current Hurricanes captain Jordan and with head coach and former teammate Rod Brind’Amour would make a great story. However, it remains to be seen if it’s a realistic option.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated he’d prefer adding an impact player over a depth player if he makes a move before the trade deadline. He said his roster has enough depth players. However, his salary-cap situation means any deal would be dollar-in, dollar-out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson believes the Oilers need a top-six left-winger. One option would be Montreal’s Tomas Tatar but Matheson doubts he’ll be available with the Canadiens fighting for a playoff berth. He feels the Canucks’ Tanner Pearson could be a better option but his cap hit ($3.75 million) could be a problem.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, the Leafs still shopping for a forward, plus updates on Dougie Hamilton, Tony DeAngelo and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman acknowledged the trade speculation swirling about Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel but doubts the 24-year-old center is moved by the April 12 trade deadline. He points out a number of teams cannot afford to take on his $10 million annual average value right now.

Could the New York Rangers or Los Angeles Kings try to acquire Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres? (NHL Images)

Friedman thinks the Rangers could do it anytime they wanted but called some of the proposals out there “kinda crazy.” If the Sabres decide to trade Eichel it’ll be in the summer when teams have more salary-cap space to work with.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Craig Custance cited an NHL executive who believes Eichel will eventually wind up a Ranger. Another, however, felt the Los Angeles Kings would be a better match because they have the type of promising high-centers (Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte) the Rangers lack to offer up as trade bait.

Kings general manager Rob Blake has stuck to the mantra of the patient rebuild and it looks like it’s starting to pay off. He could be tempted to accelerate the process by acquiring Eichel. However, I wonder how keen he’d be to add another $10 million player to his roster with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty already on the books.

Speaking of the Rangers, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes it would be almost impossible for them to get into the bidding for Eichel and his $10 million AAV without first moving center Mika Zibanejad, who has a no-movement clause. Given Zibanejad’s struggles this season, finding a trade partner willing to gamble on him won’t be easy even if he agreed to waive his NMC.

LEAFS STILL SEEK A FORWARD

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Toronto Maple Leafs still want to bolster their forward lines before the April 12 trade deadline. Some speculation linked the Leafs to Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund. Dreger thinks there could be a fit if the Predators agree to retain some of Granlund’s salary. The Leafs have the prospects and draft picks to make something happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just over $130K of trade-deadline cap space. Granlund has over $2.1 million remaining of his $3.75 million salary for this season. No chance of a deal there unless the Preds absorb a considerable chunk of his salary or take back a contract of equal or greater value.

HURRICANES UNLIKELY TO MOVE HAMILTON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports contract talks between the Carolina Hurricanes and pending UFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton have gone quiet since last month. The Hamilton camp could prefer a deal comparable to what Alex Pietrangelo received from the Vegas Golden Knights while the Hurricanes prefer something similar to what Torey Krug got with the St. Louis Blues. LeBrun doesn’t believe they’ll trade Hamilton, preferring to deal with this before the UFA market opens on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun points out, the Hurricanes are all-in this year. Hamilton’s contract discussions will be set aside until the season is over.

UPDATE ON DEANGELO

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports former New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo has told the club he’s willing to accept being loaned to an American Hockey League team. He’s not welcome with their AHL affiliate in Hartford but the Rangers are willing to facilitate sending him to another club. Servalli believes it’ll take another NHL team stepping up to make that happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several NHL teams were rumored to have an interest in DeAngelo earlier this season. However, that has dried up as his personal baggage made him too toxic. It’ll be interesting to see if one of those interest parties might give him an opportunity to skate below the media radar with their AHL farm team.

OTHER RUMORS OF NOTE

Seravalli reports Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski could be added to the TSN NHL Trade Bait board. He’s a pending UFA playing top-pairing minutes but there hasn’t been any contract extension talks between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goligoski has an eight-team no-trade list and a $5.45 million AAV. The latter could prove the more significant sticking point in any trade discussions.

Friedman reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the market for centers…The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers are eyeing defensemen but both must monitor their expansion draft protection lists…Teams seeking goalie depth might ask the Sabres about Jonas Johansson…The LA Kings hope to re-sign pending UFA forward Alex Iafallo.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

Check out the latest on the Leafs, Coyotes, and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs can get a decent return if they trade Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alex Kerfoot or if it’ll be a salary dump because of the flat cap.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen (Photo via NHL Images).

Mirtle feels they could get a player or prospect for Kapanen, but injuries and so-so-seasons for Johnsson and Kerfoot will affect their value. Still, he feels a depth-depleted club like New Jersey or Ottawa could be interested in one of those players.

He also believes the Leafs could go cheap on defense for next season out of necessity because of their lower cap space, perhaps seeking an affordable UFA veteran like Vancouver’s Chris Tanev. He doesn’t see them moving out a core player for blueline help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in 16 players next season, with Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev to be re-signed or replaced. General manager Kyle Dubas did some impressive cap management last summer to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner, but some of his deals received mixed results this season.

Dubas could pull off some more cap wizardry, perhaps acquiring one or two players on permanent long-term injury reserve status to provide more wiggle room. Nevertheless, there’s an expectation Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Such a trade doesn’t mean they won’t get an NHL-ready player back, but it would be one with much less than the $3-million or more cap hit of each of those three, with possibly less talent.

Dubas could surprise us with an interesting trade that brings in a top-four, right-shot defenseman. However, I think Mirtle’s assessment that they’ll stick with more affordable options for 2020-21 is the correct one.

A LOOK AT SOME POSSIBLE COYOTES TRADE OPTIONS

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan recently examined the short- and long-term effects of a flat cap upon the Arizona Coyotes.

Per Cap Friendly, the Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21, with star winger Taylor Hall among their notable free agents.

Morgan examined several possible cost-cutting trade candidates for ’20-’21, including center Derek Stepan, winger Michael Grabner, goaltender Antti Raanta, and defensemen Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed several others but these five appear the more likely trade options. They lack no-trade protection or have limited no-trade clauses, their contracts expire at the end of next season, and they could draw interest in the trade market.

Stepan’s $6.5 million annual average value is steep, but he’ll only get $2 million in actual salary for next season because the Coyotes recently paid out $3 million in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs looking for some affordable short-term experience and leadership.

Goligoski carries a $5.475-million AAV but receives $4 million in actual salary and has an eight-team no-trade list. Raanta has an injury history but could be a decent short-term option for clubs seeking goalie depth. Demers and Grabner would be affordable depth additions.

ATHANASIOU STRUGGLING TO FIT ON OILERS LINES

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Andreas Athanasiou isn’t working out as hoped for the Edmonton Oilers. Since his acquisition at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, he failed to click alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Athanasiou is a restricted free agent at season’s end and must be qualified at $3 million. Spector doubts GM Ken Holland will pay the winger that much, speculating he’ll likely re-sign him for less on a one-year deal.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou’s stock tumbled this season. His speed was supposed to be an asset alongside McDavid or Draisaitl but his skills are good enough to hang with those superstars. If he spurns less money to stay in Edmonton, Holland could try to trade his rights at the draft. Failing that, he could just cut Athanasiou loose via the UFA market at season’s end.