Predators No Longer Sellers In NHL Trade Market?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators could face a decision between trading Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis, who is currently sidelined. The latter was considered among their untouchables but there could be considerable value in the highly-regarded defenseman.
Players with Ellis’ contract (six years remaining with an annual average value of $6.25 million) are difficult to move now but Friedman suggests the Preds blueliner could be an exception. He believes Ellis could be a good long-term fit with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Friedman is also curious about what the Predators might do with Calle Jarnkrok. He has one season remaining on his contract worth $2 million and was last week’s NHL player of the week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Ellis would attract plenty of interest if Predators general manager David Poile is willing to listen to offers. However, I don’t believe they can move him during the trade deadline with so many capped-out clubs seeking affordable rentals. If Ellis is to be traded that move probably happens in the offseason when interested clubs have more cap space.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Mattias Ekholm remains the big name on the trade bait list. Sources tell LeBrun the Predators are seeking three assets in return: a first-round pick, an elite prospect and a third asset that could take on different forms.
Part of the reason behind that asking price is Ekholm’s under contract for another year. They must determine if the best offer they’ll get is at this trade deadline or after this summer’s expansion draft when interested clubs no longer have to worry about protection lists.
Frank Seravalli believes Predators winger Mikael Granlund is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target in their search for a top-six forward. However, there are some complicating factors.
The Leafs are awaiting clarity on whether the current 14-day quarantine period for players from American teams joining Canadian clubs will be reduced to seven games. There could also be some hesitation by the Predators to sell as they’re gaining ground on the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile isn’t under pressure to move Ekholm at this trade deadline. Interested clubs could be more willing to pursue him in the offseason following the expansion draft.
Granlund is probably the most affordable forward linked to the Leafs in terms of return and salary. If that quarantine period isn’t reduced they’ll have to acquire him before the end of this month if he’s to be effective for them over the remainder of the season.
TRADE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Leafs have checked around on goalies (“Arizona makes sense”) but doesn’t see a long list of potential healthy options to acquire in a sensible trade. He also dismissed the rumors linking the Leafs to Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darcy Kuemper is a terrific starter but the Coyotes netminder remains week-to-week with a lower-body injury. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Kuemper’s certain to be back before the trade deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll be moved before the trade deadline. He’s under contract for another season and Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Oft-injured backup Antti Raanta was recently placed on injured reserve.
The speculation about the Leafs acquiring Quick sounds like a desperate fever dream from the more deranged of Frederik Andersen’s critics. The 35-year-old Kings goalie is past his prime, carries a $5.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two years and has a long injury history.
Acquiring Quick would make the Leafs older, eat up valuable cap space for next season that could be better invested in a younger player, and wouldn’t resolve their goaltending concerns.
Following on his report from last Saturday that the Coyotes could consider moving winger Conor Garland, Friedman said they’re not interested in multiple late-round picks. The Boston Bruins need scoring depth and he speculates they could have interest in the former junior Bruin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could wait until the offseason if he doesn’t find any suitable offers before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 36-year-old Brown is having a good bounce-back performance from last season’s disappointing effort. He’s got a year remaining on his contract ($5.875 million cap hit) but I don’t think he’s a fit with the Islanders from a contract standpoint.
Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $75.9 million invested in 15 players next season. Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin are restricted free agents seeking raises on their next contracts.
The Columbus Blue Jackets must decide if they’ll shop pending UFA defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline or hold onto him for the playoffs. The Jackets have risen back into the postseason chase in the Discover Central Division. Friedman also isn’t sure the Jackets want to trade captain (and pending UFA) Nick Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could move Savard for the right price if his club slides further out of playoff contention. I’ll be surprised if he shops Foligno, who is believed keen to re-sign with the Jackets. Trading their captain at the deadline would be a gut punch to their playoff hopes.
The Vancouver Canucks playoff math isn’t good but they want to compete as long as they can before becoming deadline sellers. They’ve taken calls on pending unrestricted free agent defenders Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic (both have no-move clauses) and Jordie Benn, who has a five-team no-trade clause. There’s been some action on Benn and at least one Eastern American club asked about Hamonic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s assumed Edler could be unwilling to leave Vancouver. The Jets have been linked to Hamonic, who might entertain the opportunity to play in his home province. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Canucks could soon start contract extension talks with Pearson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Flyers are buyers. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor makes the case that the slumping club hasn’t done much to warrant being aggressive shoppers before the trade deadline. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher might even become a seller if his club doesn’t reverse its fortunes soon.