NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2018

An update on Max Pacioretty plus the latest on the Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.

NO COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PACIORETTY AND CANADIENS MANAGEMENT?

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Marc de Foy reports sources claim Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin ignored captain Max Pacioretty for months last season. Last month, a deal that would’ve sent Pacioretty to the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL Draft fell through. An unrestricted free agent next July, Pacioretty has been linked to the Florida Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. de Foy notes Bergevin apparently doesn’t want to negotiate a contract extension with Pacioretty. He said relations appear tense between the two sides and it seems like a matter of time until Pacioretty is traded.

A recent report claims the relationship between Max Pacioretty and Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has deteriorated (Photo via NHL Images).

de Foy also claims former Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov contacted his ex-teammates last November telling them he was unhappy playing in the KHL and wanted to return to the Canadiens, but Bergevin turned a deaf ear. Noting the Habs GM also shipped out P.K. Subban to Nashville two years ago, de Foy wonders about Bergevin’s attitude toward the club’s popular players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree Pacioretty seems destined to be dealt between now and next February’s NHL trade deadline. Bergevin’s failed attempt to ship the left winger to the Kings indicates the Habs GM no longer sees his captain as being part of his club’s long-term future.

Teams are undoubtedly interested in Pacioretty, who carries an affordable $4.5-million cap hit for 2018-19 and lacks no-trade protection. However, those clubs probably want to ink the winger to a contract extension. His apparent unwillingness to do that (which is considered the reason why the deal with the Kings fell through) could adversely affect his trade value. 

de Foy also said those sources claim Bergevin makes life difficult for players who struggle on the ice. However, we should probably take this with a grain of salt.

Carey Price had his difficulties and is very popular with Canadiens fans yet he and Bergevin had no problem agreeing last summer to a lucrative long-term contract. The Canadiens GM also doesn’t seem to have any issues with scrappy fan favorite Brendan Gallagher.

Subban’s trade was said to be based in part upon some friction between the flamboyant blueliner and some of his teammates. Markov’s departure and that of winger Alexander Radulov appears based upon on Bergevin’s misguided attempt at playing hardball in contract talks, forcing the two players to accept other offers.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: JD Burke suggests New Jersey’s Damon Severson, Carolina’s Justin Faulk and Dallas’ Julius Honka as three players from the “secondary trade market” for the Vancouver Canucks to explore.

Burke admits it’s hard to imagine why the Devils would part with Severson but noted TSN’s Blake Price last month linked the Canucks to the New Jersey blueliner. The Hurricanes are loaded with right-side defensemen and Faulk’s frequently come up in the rumor mill. Burke feels somebody has to give Honka a break, as he struggled to establish himself as a full-time NHLer under former Stars coaches Lindy Ruff and Ken Hitchcock. 

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt teams called about Severson. The fact he hasn’t been moved yet suggests Devils GM Ray Shero has no interest in trading him or no one is willing to meet his asking price.

The Hurricanes could seek a scoring forward for Faulk. Rumors linking him to the Chicago Blackhawks claimed the asking price was left wing Brandon Saad or center Nick Schmaltz. Based on that, the Canucks could be asked to part with Bo Horvat or Brock Boeser.

Honka could be more affordable and was mentioned as part of a suggested return for Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. But with the Stars hiring Jim Montgomery as their new bench boss, maybe Honka gets another chance to stick with the Stars. 

THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford recently noted the Vancouver Canucks expressed their desire to be active in this summer’s trade market but so far no deal has materialized. He wondered if they have a defenseman they can package for a beneficial return. He notes

Alex Edler reportedly won’t waive his no-trade clause. Chris Tanev’s injury-ravaged 2017-18 campaign hurt his trade value and interested parties want the Canucks to absorb part of his $4.45-million cap hit. Botchford considers Erik Gudbranson almost untradeable as many teams “see him as a third-pairing defenseman making $4 million.”

Ben Hutton’s poor season and $2.8-million cap hit makes him “as close to untradeable as anyone.”  Botchford also notes teams aren’t lining up for Michael Del Zotto and his $3-million cap hit. He also doesn’t see Derrick Pouliot or Troy Stecher getting moved. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Canucks lack the defensive depth to use as bait to land a quality return to help them elsewhere on the roster. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2018

Are the Oilers showcasing defenseman Oscar Klefbom? Will the Canucks overhaul their defense this summer? Read on for the latest in your NHL rumor mill.

Are the Edmonton Oilers showcasing defenseman Oscar Klefbom? (Photo via NHL Images)

OILERS SHOWCASING KLEFBOM?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Hockey Central there’s some belief the Edmonton Oilers could be showcasing defenseman Oscar Klefbom for a possible trade. He noted Klefbom’s playing hurt, perhaps nursing a shoulder injury. The fact the Oilers haven’t shut him down for the season prompted talk he could be a player other clubs could be looking at. “And if you want to trade something that can get you value in Edmonton, Klefbom might be the guy,” said Friedman.

Friedman’s colleague Mark Spector pointed out the decline in Klefbom’s play this season “has crippled this team the most.” Citing the blueliner’s injury history, Spector believes the Oilers should move him if the right offer came along.

Staples notes Friedman’s comments are “speculative”, but points out the pundit has a solid track record. Until veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera can prove he’s fully bounced back from recent knee surgery, he feels trading Klefbom would be a risky, ill-advised move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There might be teams with some interest in perhaps pursuing a Klefbom trade this summer. Still, with the Oilers playing out the string on another lost season, it doesn’t make sense to keep playing him if he is in fact nursing a shoulder injury. It’s certainly not going to improve his offseason trade value. I concur with Staples’ assessment that attempting to move Klefbom this summer might not be the wisest decision. 

WILL THE CANUCKS IMPROVE THEIR BLUELINE?

VANCOUVER SUN: Jason Botchford recently weighed in on the status of the Canucks defense corps, suggesting a lack of blueline depth is holding the club back. He feels it’s contributed to their goaltending woes and believes changes could be in order this summer.

One trade candidate could be Ben Hutton, who’s been a frequent healthy scratch squeezed out by veteran Michael Del Zotto. Shopping Chris Tanev, however, could net the Canucks a return that includes a first-round pick. Botchford also wondered if the Canucks will try to move recently re-signed Erik Gudbranson leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade rumors dogged Hutton and Tanev leading up to the recent trade deadline. The talk was Hutton might be available but the Canucks were reluctant to part with Tanev. Perhaps Hutton didn’t have suitable trade value at the deadline, but maybe he’ll attract more interest in the offseason. Tanev could be moved for the right offer but I suspect Canucks management wants to retain him for next season.  

Gudbranson also featured prominently for a time in the rumor mill until he was re-signed. As he’s now under contract they could try to move him this summer, but I believe they signed him with the intent of keeping him. After all, if having Gudbranson under contract was a selling point, he probably would’ve been dealt at the deadline. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2018

Game recaps, analysis of latest trades, Canucks re-sign Gudbranson plus injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie factored in all of his club’s goals in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Barrie scored a goal and set up four others while Nathan MacKinnon’s game winner was also his 100th career NHL goal.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie had a five-point performance in a 5-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).

Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek scored the game-tying goal and the winner in overtime to lift his club to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Flyers forward Travis Konecny missed the overtime period after suffering an apparent foot injury late in the third period. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced forward Wayne Simmonds (upper-body injury) will be sidelined two-three weeks while backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth (lower body) is out four-to-five weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries are starting to pile up for the Flyers and could take a toll. The loss of Neuvirth and Brian Elliott forced them on Monday night to acquire netminder Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings. 

Third-period goals by Noel Acciari, Matt Grzelcyk and David Krejci carried the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Earlier in the day, the Bruins acquired defenseman Nick Holden from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenceman Rob O’Gara and Boston’s third-round pick in the June draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable rental move by the Bruins to bolster their blueline depth on the left side without giving up too much in return. I daresay this also means the Bruins are out of the market for Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, though perhaps they’ll revisit that interest if McDonagh remains available this summer. Holden’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. If he plays well with the Bruins, perhaps they’ll consider re-signing him. 

The San Jose Sharks picked up their third straight win with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Earlier in the day, the Sharks acquired forward Eric Fehr from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks were expected to acquire some depth at center before the trade deadline. This move suggests GM Doug Wilson isn’t keen to pursue the big-ticket trade bait. Fehr spent most of this season in the minors and will be slotted into the role of the Sharks’ fourth-line center. 

Dion Phaneuf scored his third goal in four games with the Los Angeles Kings as they held off the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Kings captain Anze Kopitar collected his 800th career NHL point.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen turned in a 40-save shutout performance to give his club a 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers. James van Riemsdyk tallied the only goal.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Devils winger Taylor Hall scored his 25th goal and extended his points streak to 12 games.

Brayden Point scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 35 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2.

Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros made 34 saves while defensemen Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi each collected two assists in a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks yesterday announced the re-signing of defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a three-year, $12-million contract extension. As per Cap Friendly, he’ll earn $4.5 million in total salary in 2018-19 and again in 2019-20, followed by $3 million in 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks management value Gudbranson’s experience, physical play and leadership. His critics, however, believe he’s too slow and injury-prone to be an effective long-term asset. Time will tell if this deal is worthwhile. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. 

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe will under undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. 

SPORTSNET: Former NHL star Jarome Iginla recently took part in a practice session with the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. This doesn’t mean the Bruins are interested in signing him. Any club thinking of signing him must do so before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla also reportedly underwent hip surgery four months ago. That could in part explain why he wasn’t signed last summer. 

NBC SPORTS: Seattle will kick off a season-ticket drive on March 1 as part of the process in their attempt to land an NHL franchise. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2018

Updated TSN trade bait list plus the latest on the Jets, Canucks, Blue Jackets, Flames and more in your NHL rumor mill.

Could the Ottawa Senators retain Mike Hoffman? (Photo via NHL Images)

UPDATED TSN TRADE BAIT LIST

TSN: Frank Seravalli updated and expanded his trade bait list to 45 players. He speculates the Ottawa Senators could be reluctant to part with winger Mike Hoffman, in part because of the chemistry he’s established with center Matt Duchene.

“Newcomers include Detroit’s Luke Glendening, Xavier Ouellet and Dan DeKeyser, Pittsburgh’s Matt Hunwick, Buffalo’s Benoit Pouliot and Chicago’s Tommy Wingels”. Seravalli reports it’s believed the Toronto Maple Leafs offered up a fifth-round pick to the Red Wings for Glendening, who countered by asking for a second rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators were reportedly in discussions last week with the St. Louis Blues regarding Hoffman or Derick Brassard. While moving either guy could help the Sens shed salary, general manager Pierre Dorion could prefer retaining both in favor of other cost-cutting options.

Speaking of Brassard, Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger said the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins had interest in him. As per Cap Friendly, the Jets ($69.5-million cap payroll for 2017-18) have the salary-cap room to bring in Brassard’s $5 million AAV through 2018-19, provided he’s willing to accept a trade to Winnipeg. The Penguins, however, would have to clear significant cap room for Brassard so I don’t see him going to Pittsburgh. 

A second-round pick for a potential fourth-liner such as Glendening is a high asking price so it’s unsurprising the Leafs rejected that. As for DeKeyser, The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports there’s been “some interest” in the 27-year-old blueliner but the Wings haven’t received any offers that would convince them to part with him. 

JETS AND CANUCKS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is believed to have spoken to the New York Rangers about the players they’re shopping (including winger Rick Nash), as well as the Ottawa Senators about winger Mike Hoffman (“unlikely, but possible”) and Edmonton Oilers about forwards Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu. While Dreger believes Cheveldayoff is doing his due diligence and could have the appetite to do something impactful, it depends upon what assets he’ll have to give up.

Dreger also reports contract talks between the Vancouver Canucks and pending free-agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson sound like they’re heading in the right direction. If the Canucks can sign him to a three- or four-year deal worth slightly above his current $3.5-million salary, Dreger feels that’s a good deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Jets riding high in the Western Conference standings, Cheveldayoff isn’t under pressure to make a major move. I’m not saying he won’t but, like many of his peers who are buyers, he won’t overpay for rental players. That’s why I’m not surprised to see that he could have interest in Hoffman, who’s signed beyond this season. If the Jets GM wants to make a big splash, it could be for a player who could have a long-term effect upon his roster. 

As for Gudbranson, it sounds as though he’ll be staying with the Canucks beyond this season, probably for around what Dreger suggested. 

BLUE JACKETS AND FLAMES

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen should be a bold buyer and seller by the trade deadline. Pending free agent defenseman Jack Johnson requested a trade earlier this season and there are reports the Jackets could get a low first-round pick for him. “Boston, Toronto and Washington are said to be interested.” There’s also some interest in penalty-killing forward Matt Calvert, who’s also eligible for UFA status this summer.

Portzline also believes the Jackets GM should acquire some scoring punch, though he recommends against pursuing rental players unless they’re willing to re-sign. He wonders if forwards Boone Jenner or Alexander Wenneberg might be available as trade bait. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets are one point shy of a wild-card berth. They’re in danger of falling further out of playoff contention. Kekalainen was interested in Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris before they were traded and it’s believed he’s still searching for a scoring center. It’ll be interesting to see if he can swing a significant move that bolsters his club’s postseason hopes. 

THE ATHLETIC: Kent Wilson examined possible trade targets for the Calgary Flames. He considers their chances of landing New York Rangers winger Rick Nash “remote”, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman as “low-to-moderate”, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty “low”, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist and the Rangers’ Michael Grabner  “moderate” and Vancouver’s Thomas Vanek “low.”  Possible trade bait could include forward Sam Bennett and prospects such as goaltender Jon Gillies and defensemen Rasmus Andersson, Juuso Valimaki, Adam Fox and Oliver Kylington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames must add another scorer, preferably at right wing. They have prospect depth that could prove tempting to clubs shopping rental players. Grabner could be a decent pickup if the Flames want an affordable rental option. Attempting to acquire Hoffman or Pacioretty will probably be too costly. If starting goalie Mike Smith remains sidelined longer than expected the Flames could also be in the market for a goalie.

 











NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2018

Latest on the Flyers plus several general managers are reluctant to spend big on rental players. Details in your NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE FLYERS SHOP FOR A GOALTENDER?

COURIER-POST: With Philadelphia Flyers starting goaltender Brian Elliott sidelined several week and backup Michal Neuvirth suffering an injury in yesterday’s 7-4 win over the New York Rangers, Dave Isaac wonders if general manager Ron Hextall will be forced into the trade market for help between the pipes. Even if Neuvirth isn’t seriously hurt, Isaac notes he’s been inconsistent throughout this season.

The Philadelphia Flyers reportedly rejected an offer of goaltender Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings (Photo via NHL Images)

 Isaac noted Hextall had recently rejected an offer by the Detroit Red Wings of Petr Mrazek for a third-round pick and wasn’t interested in Wings veteran Jimmy Howard. It also seems unlikely the Arizona Coyotes will part with Annti Raanta. He lists Buffalo’s Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson, Toronto’s Calvin Pickard, San Jose’s Aaron Dell and Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier as possible trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan wondered if Hextall might change his mind about Mrazek if Neuvirth is also out for a lengthy period. He also suggests the Calgary Flames could be a trade option for Mrazek if their starter, Mike Smith, remains out longer than expected with a lower-body injury.

Of those on Isaac’s list, I don’t see Lehner, Dell or Bernier being available. Johnson or Pickard, on the other hand, could be had for the right price but that depends upon Hextall’s willingness to pay it. 

BRUINS, DUCKS, BLUES RELUCTANT TO OVERPAY FOR RENTAL PLAYERS

BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is reluctant to part with his high draft picks, top prospects or good young players, such as defenseman Brandon Carlo, for a rental player. Regarding Carlo, Shinzawa suggests if another team believes there’s more to the 21-year-old blueliner than he’s shown thus far, it could be the Bruins’ best chance to do something big at the deadline. 

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Eric Stephens reports Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray is no fan of acquiring rental players, preferring to acquire those he can re-sign. Murray is also unwilling to pay what he considers high prices (according to Stephens, a first-round pick, a top prospect and a young NHL roster player “for starters”) for the best players currently available in the trade market. 

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t in any mood to part with young talent for a playoff rental. While he still considers his club as a top-10 team, he feels their championship window could be a year or two away from opening. Armstrong could, however, have interest in players with term on his contract, though he’s keeping his cards close to the vest.

Over the weekend, there were reports the Blues were in discussion with the Ottawa Senators regarding forwards Mike Hoffman or Derick Brassard, with St. Louis forwards Robby Fabbri, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka coming up in speculation. Hoffman and Brassard are signed beyond this season. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues also don’t have a lot of salary-cap space for the remainder of 2017-18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney, Murray and Armstrong could make a move to acquire a good player before the trade deadline. However, it’s clear they won’t cave to pressure and overpay for a rental. If those asking prices aren’t lowered, it sounds like they’re willing to pass or consider much more affordable options. 

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma reports Canucks GM Jim Benning attempted to clarify the comments he made Saturday during an intermission-panel appearance on Hockey Night in Canada. Benning had said he’d like to add a big player. “Maybe a forward with some physicality, who has the skill to make plays.” On Sunday, however, he told Kuzma his club wants to make hockey trades. “We have some UFAs to see if there’s interest in them and the point I was trying to make is there a hockey trade to be made for somebody with size and strength, who can play in our top nine?”

Regarding struggling defenseman Ben Hutton, Kuzma noted there’s little league interest in the recently-scratched 24-year-old blueliner plus the Canucks are unwilling to give up on him. There’s also little to report on management’s contract negotiations with pending UFA rearguard Erik Gudbranson. Benning indicated conversations are continuing and he remains hopeful of getting a deal done.

The Canucks GM rejected recent trade speculation concerning d-man Chris Tanev. “I’m not looking to trade Chris,” stressed Benning. “General managers call and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen, but he’s an important guy who will help our young guys develop.”

 











NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2018

Latest on John Tavares and Erik Gudbranson plus updates on the Coyotes, Sharks and Jets and more in your NHL rumor mill.

TAVARES AFFECTING TRADE DEADLINE DEAL?

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports the holding pattern on the contract status of New York Islanders center John Tavares is affecting the upcoming NHL trade deadline. Tavares is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. With no sign of a contract extension yet, Custance speculates there are NHL teams keeping salary-cap room open this summer in case Tavares tests the market. That could make those clubs reluctant to make moves at the deadline where they take on players signed through next season.

He cites the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues as examples. Both clubs need scoring but their respective management  could be reluctant to endanger their cap space by taking on a player with term (such as Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman) at the trade deadline. That could make other pending UFAs, such as Buffalo’s Evander Kane, more valuable at this year’s deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how much effect Tavares’ contract status has on the market leading up to the trade deadline. Given the fact he’s unquestionably the best player potentially available in this summer’s UFA market, it’s understandable why those clubs want to ensure they’ve got sufficient room to pursue him if he hits the market.

I also think those clubs could still pursue playoff-rental players at the trade deadline but they could find decent deals difficult to come by. They could try to wait out the sellers in hopes the asking prices go down. For example, it’s been reported the Sabres seek four pieces (A young NHL player, a first-round pick, a prospect and another pick) for Kane. I believe the clubs interested in him, which could include those carrying lots of cap room next season, will wait in hope the asking price goes down as the deadline draws near. 

Will the Vancouver Canucks re-sign or trade defenseman Erik Gudbranson (Photo via NHL Images).

CANUCKS RE-SIGNING GUDBRANSON NOT A CERTAINTY

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports defenseman Erik Gudbranson is keen on re-signing with the Vancouver Canucks and GM Jim Benning has expressed interest in keeping the pending UFA but there’s no certainty that’s going to happen. He’s completing a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Contract talks have yet to begin and with the trade deadline approaching a lot of compromise and work will be required on both sides.

Given Gudbranson’s role as a physical third-pairing blueliner, MacIntyre doubts the Canucks will commit more than three years and $12 million to keep him. He believes the most likely scenario is Gudbranson will be traded by the deadline, noting the rearguard’s been linked to several teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford believes the Canucks willingness to retain Gudbranson because of his toughness is short-sighted and unreasonable. He notes some people believe Benning is posturing in hopes of building up more interest in Gudbranson in the trade market but the Canucks GM denies this. If they want more toughness, Botchford feels the Canucks can find more affordable options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good points by MacIntyre and Botchford. The Canucks also value Gudbranson’s leadership, which is a valuable asset for a club transitioning toward a younger roster. Still, it’s not worth overpaying for the privilege. If he seeks a long-term deal worth over $4 million annually, I think he’ll be playing elsewhere by Feb. 26. 

UPDATE ON THE COYOTES

ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka isn’t expecting any major moves at the trade deadline. He feels there’s no longer a need to infuse his club with more youth compared to previous years. While he wouldn’t rule out tweaking his roster, he doesn’t think there’s a need for significant change.

Morgan also reported earlier this week the play of goaltender Antti Raanta over the remainder of this season will determine his future with the club. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status in July and the Coyotes are still determining if he’s the guy they see as their starting goalie going forward.

While Raanta’s name has surfaced in trade chatter, Chaya dismissed it. “That’s just people making a guess based off his contractual status and he’s at a good cap number but I haven’t had a single realistic discussion on him,” Chayka said. “We’re in need of a good goalie and he’s a good goalie. That’s where I’m at.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In case you’re wondering, the Coyotes still see defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson as an untouchable so he won’t be moving at the deadline. If they’re sticking with Raanta, there’s not very much the Coyotes can offer up as a seller in the trade market. Maybe they shop pending UFAs Brad Richardson and Luke Schenn.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there were some rumblings last weekend speculating Joe Thornton’s knee injury could make San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson more active in the trade market. Friedman, however, doesn’t think Wilson’s guaranteed to do much. The Sharks have over $20 million in cap space next season and Friedman think Wilson won’t tamper with that unless it’s for a cornerstone player. He also doesn’t think the Sharks want to part with their 2018 first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson last week said he was going to look to within for the time being to address Thornton’s absence. If younger players such as Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi and Timo Meier step up, the Sharks GM won’t have to make a major move by the deadline. So far, however, the Sharks have dropped four straight. Something to keep an eye on with the deadline on the horizon. 

Friedman ponders if there’s a left-shot defenseman available who could make the Winnipeg Jets even better. He also wonders if the Toronto Maple Leafs might be showcasing recent call-up forward Kasperi Kapanen.

With the St. Louis Blues loaded on defense, they might not have room for AHL all-star Jordan Schmaltz. Friedman wonders if he might become an interesting asset near the Feb. 26 trade deadline.