NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2018

James van Riemsdyk could be an expensive re-signing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Updates on James van Riemsdyk, Evander Kane, Rick Nash, Brock Nelson and more in your NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON VAN RIEMSDYK

TSN: NHL insider Darren Dreger appeared on Leafs Lunch yesterday discussing what it might cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign left wing James van Riemsdyk, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Noting colleague Bob McKenzie suggested it could take a five-year deal in the range of $6 million annually as the starting point in negotiations, Dreger believes JVR would take $6 million annually to stay with the Leafs on a six-year deal. He doesn’t think there’s been any serious contract talks between the two sides thus far.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because of van Riemsdyk’s UFA status, there’s some fan speculation suggesting the Leafs should shop him at the trade deadline for a top-four defenseman. While anything’s possible, I don’t believe they’ll go that route because they don’t want to sacrifice the offense van Riemsdyk gives them. They’ll stick with him for the remainder of the season and try to hammer out an agreement on a new contract before July 1. 

UPDATES ON KANE, JAGR AND SEABROOK

TSN: During Tuesday’s insider segment, Pierre LeBrun reported the Buffalo Sabres’ asking price (if they have their way) for pending UFA left wing Evander Kane “will be a first-round pick, plus a prospect, plus potentially a conditional pick in case he signs with that new team.” While there’s no firm timeline as to when the Sabres could move Kane, LeBrun suspects it’ll be near the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Sabres will wait until the days leading up to the deadline to move Kane in hopes of maximizing his trade value. Teams could be leery of parting with a first-round pick but a club looking at making a run for the Cup this season could go for it. Perhaps the Tampa Bay Lightning could consider making a pitch? 

Darren Dreger reports most believe right wing Jaromir Jagr’s time with the Calgary Flames is drawing to a close, but he’s still being treated for an injury and he wants to be healthy before determining his playing future. The Flames could try to trade him but Dreger said it doesn’t appear as though there’s much of a market for Jagr’s services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I hate to say it but I think Jagr’s NHL playing days are over. I’ll be very surprised if he gets traded. 

Regarding the Chicago Blackhawks making Brent Seabrook a healthy scratch from Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, LeBrun said this wasn’t about setting up a trade or that Seabrook’s days as a key member of the Blackhawks are coming to an end. He feels it was done to send a message to Seabrook and his teammates regarding their performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if the Blackhawks wanted to trade Seabrook, his hefty contract ($6.875 million annual average value through 2023-24 plus a no-movement clause) makes him almost impossible to move. 

SHOULD RANGERS LISTEN TO OFFERS FOR NASH?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports there’s a belief the Rangers could attempt to add a piece or two to offset the loss of Chris Kreider to potentially season-ending rib surgery. However, he calls upon management not to be deluded by their 22-15-15 record, citing the team’s lack of focus and intensity, defensive-zone deficiencies and the fact they’re being kept afloat by the goaltending tandem of Henrik Lundqvist and Ondrej Pavelec.

Brooks believes they should be listening to offers on pending free agent winger Rick Nash. While the decline in Nash’s production hurts his trade value, Brooks suggests “it only takes two teams believing that No. 61 can be a missing link to a title in order to generate a bidding war.” While landing a first-round pick would be ideal, he suggests entertaining offers “including a second-rounder, plus.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash’s offensive decline screams “buyer beware”. Sure, the Rangers could listen to offers but I doubt they’ll get many serious ones. 

LATEST ON NELSON AND GUDBRANSON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson is “starting to creep out there” in the rumor mill. With defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan sidelined, the Isles need blueline help. Friedman believes there will be interest in Nelson. He also wonders if the Isles might take a look at Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nelson, 26, reached 20 goals and 40 points in each of the last three seasons but he’s currently on pace for only 17 goals and 27 points. Still, I think he could be enticing for clubs with blueline depth seeking a second-line forward with good size who can play center or wing. As for Lehner, I don’t think the Sabres want to part with him. 

Friedman said there’s no shortage of people who believe Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson “will be better on a better, more structured team.” The Canucks, however, are trying to drive up his price.

UPDATES ON THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: During a recent live chat, Mike Heika was asked which big-name player on the Dallas Stars was most likely to be traded. While he doubts any of them will be moved this season, he suggests center Jason Spezza as a candidate.

While Spezza’s minutes have been reduced this season, Heika notes he has some control over a possible trade. He thinks the veteran center wants to stay in Dallas and help the Stars win. Unless the Stars fall apart down the stretch, Heika doesn’t believe they’ll become sellers at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza surfaced briefly in the rumor mill earlier this season. However, his age (34), declining production and contract ($7.5 million annual cap hit through 2018-19 with a modified no-trade clause) should ensure he finishes this season in Dallas. If the Stars become active in the trade market leading up to the deadline, it’ll be as buyers.