NHL Rumor Mill (Trade Deadline Edition) – February 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill (Trade Deadline Edition) – February 24, 2020

The NHL 2020 Trade Deadline is today at 3 pm ET. Here’s the latest on Chris Kreider, Joe Thornton, Tyson Barrie, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and more in the rumor mill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be evaluating today’s notable deals in the Soapbox following the deadline. While we’re waiting for today’s activities, check out TSN’s updated Trade Bait list.

UPDATE ON KREIDER

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports it appears the New York Rangers will move Chris Kreider before today’s deadline as contract talks reached an impasse. The Rangers offered a six-year extension worth just under $7 million annually, but the Kreider camp seeks a seven-year term.

The Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights could have an interest in Kreider. The New York Islanders may have also checked in, but Brooks feels they have no chance of landing Kreider.

The New York Rangers are expected to move winger Chris Kreider before today’s 3 pm ET trade deadline (Photo via NHL Images).

The Blueshirts could also entertain offers for Marc Staal and Brady Skjei. Brett Cyrgalis believes Jesper Fast could garner the Rangers a second- or third-round pick.

TSN (via Forever Blueshirts): Darren Dreger last night reported the Rangers have an offer of a first-round pick on the table. The expectation is they could get a first-round pick and a prospect or a first and an NHL player.

**UPDATE** The Rangers announce they’ve re-signed Kreider to a seven-year extension worth an annual average value of $6.5 million. 

INTEREST REMAINS IN THORNTON

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports there’s still no confirmation San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton will waive his no-movement clause. Four clubs (Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning) are thought to be on his shortlist of trade destinations. It’s believed Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has been granted permission to at least explore what he could get from those clubs.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes Erik Gustafsson will almost certainly be traded today after the Blackhawks left the defenseman in Chicago as they departed on their current road trip. Other Blackhawks trade candidates could include goaltender Robin Lehner or winger Brandon Saad. Trade partners could include the Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Florida Panthers.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report the Hurricanes aren’t willing to part with one of their two first-round picks in this year’s draft for Lehner. Two team sources claim three or four clubs could be interested in Gustafsson. The Golden Knights were thought to be among them, but that no longer seems to be the case. If Lehner isn’t moved today, contract talks with Hawks management could resume.

SENATORS STILL TRYING TO RE-SIGN PAGEAU

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators are still believed trying to re-sign Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a contract extension before today’s trade deadline. While they’ve listened to trade offers, other clubs realize the Sens wish to keep him. Meanwhile, forward Vladislav Namestnikov and Tyler Ennis were recent healthy scratches as there’s interest in both players from other teams.

What happens with the Rangers’ Chris Kreider could determine the fates of Pageau, Namestnikov, and Ennis. The Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames are all seeking forward depth.

BARRIE STILL LINKED TO THE CANUCKS

TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reported yesterday talks were ongoing between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs regarding Leafs blueliner Tyson Barrie.

WILL THE WINGS MOVE ATHANASIOU?

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the Detroit Red Wings held Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green out of yesterday’s game against the Calgary Flames. With Green subsequently traded to the Edmonton Oilers, Athanasiou could be next.

The Oilers are rumored as a potential destination for Athanasiou. The Wings are trying to stock up on draft picks, prospects, and young players.

DUCKS SHOPPING GRANT?

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Elliott Teaford reports the Anaheim Ducks held Derek Grant out of the lineup in last night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks as a precautionary measure. It’s a clear sign Ducks GM Bob Murray has at least one offer for the 29-year-old center.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 23, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 23, 2020

The NHL Trade Deadline is 3 PM ET on Monday, Feb. 24. Check out the latest on Joe Thornton, Tyson Barrie, Chris Kreider, Robin Lehner, and many more in the Sunday rumor roundup.

UPDATE ON JOE THORNTON

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports Joe Thornton admits it would be tempting to accept a trade to a Stanley Cup contender. The long-time Sharks center has a full no-movement clause. Thornton said he doesn’t feel that this is his final NHL season. He also acknowledged the possibility of getting traded to another club and returning to the Sharks in the summer.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW (stick tap to Shawn Lamba for the link): Adrian Dater reports the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, and Pittsburgh Penguins are apparently on Thornton’s shortlist of destinations.

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton admits it’s tempting to accept a trade to a Cup contender (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if Jumbo Joe will accept an opportunity to join a Stanley Cup contender. Just because the Avs, Bruins, Bolts, Stars, and Pens are supposedly on his shortlist doesn’t mean any of them will make a pitch.

It could also come down to what’s being offered for Thornton. He’s one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history and remains well-respected around the league, but the 40-year-old is also well past his prime.

BARRIE LINKED TO THE FLAMES, CANUCKS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights are among the clubs looking to potentially acquire Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie. If Barrie is traded, Elliotte Friedman said they won’t do it unless somebody can tide them over until Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci return sometime in March. They’d also want some futures, either for themselves or to use elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After that embarrassing loss to the Hurricanes last night, I’m not sure if the Leafs can get a suitable return to make a Barrie trade worthwhile. They’ll either want an established defenseman or future assets that can be flipped to another club to bring in that type of blueliner. It’s not as though Barrie’s performance this season warrants that type of return. We’ll see.

HURRICANES MONITORING LEHNER OR CRAWFORD

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Carolina Hurricanes were already in the market for goaltenders before James Reimer and Petr Mrazek getting sidelined in last night’s game against Toronto. They were eyeing Chicago Blackhawks netminders Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford. Depending on the extent of the injuries to Riemer and Mrazek, they could increase their efforts to land a goalie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Mrazek and Reimer are seriously hurt, the Hurricanes could be forced to overpay for a replacement goalie. You can bet the Blackhawks will try to take advantage of the situation if the Canes come calling.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry has garnered plenty of recent attention leading up to Monday’s trade deadline. However, Friedman expects Petry will remain with the Habs because they’ve set a big asking price.

TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean reports the Colorado Avalanche could have interest in Ilya Kovalchuk. The winger’s agent said contract talks with the Canadiens would continue Sunday. If his client isn’t traded, perhaps an agreement on a one-year contract extension could be quickly reached.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin could surprise us by tomorrow. Maybe he finds a suitable offer for Petry. Maybe he opts to keep Kovalchuk if there’s insufficient interest in the veteran winger. Maybe he’ll trade Max Domi for another young forward. Maybe he only moves depth players like pending UFA Nate Thompson. Or maybe he’ll do nothing at all.

ISLANDERS ARE BUYERS, BLACKHAWKS AND DEVILS SELLERS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the New York Islanders had an interest in Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu, but he announced yesterday he’s staying put. The Isles are also believed interested in Rangers winger Chris Kreider. While the Rangers have moved back into the playoff chase, Friedman doesn’t think that means they’ll hang onto Kreider. If they can’t re-sign him, they’ll likely move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One way or another, we’ll have an end to the Kreider trade chatter by 3 pm ET tomorrow.

There’s lots of interest in New Jersey Devils wingers Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Palmieri, though it’ll take a significant offer to acquire the latter. Pending UFA defenseman Sami Vatanen remains sidelined with a bruised leg, but Friedman feels a team that needs offense from the blueline could come calling.

Chris Johnston believes the Chicago Blackhawks will be among the big sellers. They could attempt to move Robin Lehner or Corey Crawford. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson was left back in Chicago as the Hawks left on a road trip today. Gustafsson has been linked to the Vegas Golden Knights, but Johnston believes he’ll be heading somewhere else. He also believes winger Brandon Saad could be had for the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That “right price” for Saad? Maybe a good young forward with an affordable cap hit. Perhaps a first-round pick, or a second and a top prospect. Some of you might scoff at those proposals, but given what we’ve seen in recent deals, my suggestions aren’t far-fetched.

NO BIG DEADLINE MOVES FOR THE JACKETS?

THE ATHLETIC: A year after the Columbus Blue Jackets were major buyers at the trade deadline, Aaron Portzline expects they’ll be quiet this time around. The club is ravaged by injuries, leaving little depth to draw upon for trade bait. Winger Josh Anderson has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill, but there’s uncertainty over when he’ll return from shoulder surgery. GM Jarmo Kekalainen won’t trade his first-round pick this year. They also lack second- and third-round picks this year.

COULD THE AVALANCHE MOST TYSON JOST?

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston believes the Colorado Avalanche are looking to acquire a goaltender or some help up front. He feels young Avs center Tyson Jost could be moved on Monday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2020

Jordan Eberle and Jared Spurgeon each tally hat tricks, the Jets acquire Cody Eakin from the Golden Knights, the Avalanche re-sign Pavel Francouz, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: On the night the New York Islanders honored John Tonelli, Jordan Eberle netted a hat trick to lead them to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Islanders (74 points) hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Isles placed Cal Clutterbuck on injured reserve, while the Red Wings claimed defenseman Cody Goloubef off waivers from the Ottawa Senators.

Jared Spurgeon’s natural hat trick gave the Minnesota Wild a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon netted a natural hat trick to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected three points for the Oilers. The Wild (65 points) sit three points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Goaltender Pavel Francouz celebrated his two-year, $4-million contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche by kicking out 26 shots to blank the Anaheim Ducks 1-0. J.T. Compher scored the only goal as the Avs (77 points) move one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for second in the Central Division.

The St. Louis Blues (80 points) opened a three-point lead atop the Western Conference by beating the Stars 5-1, leaving the latter four points behind them. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko had a goal and two assists.

Mika Zibanejad scored and set up two others to lead the New York Rangers over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho tallied his 35th goal of the season. With 68 points, the Rangers sit five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Hurricanes (72 points) are one point behind the Jackets.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat scored twice in a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 42 saves for the win. The Predators (68 points) sit two behind the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Blackhawks made defenseman Erik Gustafsson a late scratch, prompting speculation he could be moved before the upcoming Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Speaking of the Flames, they blew a 3-1 lead to drop a 4-3 decision to the Boston Bruins. Patrice Bergeron scored twice and David Pastrnak had two assists as the Bruins (90 points) won their fifth straight and widened their lead atop the overall standings by five points over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mikael Backlund scored two goals for the Flames.

HEADLINES

WINNIPEG SUN/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Winnipeg Jets acquired center Cody Eakin from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eakin is expected to center the Jets’ fourth line, providing an additional measure of experienced depth to their bottom-six forward lines. By shedding Eakin’s $3.85 million salary-cap hit, the Golden Knights freed up cap room for perhaps another deal before the upcoming trade deadline.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday placed defenseman Zach Bogosian on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. If unclaimed by noon today, Bogosian will become an unrestricted free agent.

TSN: Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan opened up about his alcohol addiction and his ongoing treatment. He’s returning to the lineup after being out of action for three months participating in the NHL player assistance program.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Ryan on his path forward.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand will be sidelined eight-to-ten weeks with a sprained and factured ankle.

The NHL Department of Player Safety fined Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen $5,000.00 for slashing and Senators forward Scott Sabourin over $1.881.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

TVA SPORTS: With Victor Mete and Xavier Ouellet sidelined by injuries, the Montreal Canadiens recalled defenseman Karl Alzner.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2020

The Jets are reportedly trying to trade Dustin Byfuglien, plus the latest on the Avalanche, Blackhawks, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

JETS TRYING TO TRADE BYFUGLIEN

TSN: Frank Seravalli cites sources claiming trade talks involving Dustin Byfuglien have increased in recent days. The big defenseman has been suspended without pay by the Winnipeg Jets since the start of the season. He has yet to resume skating after undergoing ankle surgery in late-October. There’s no guarantee he’ll be traded as his return to action this season remains a long shot.

Winnipeg Jets trying to trade Dustin Byfuglien before the upcoming trade deadline (Photo via NHL Images).

Those close to Byfuglien wonders if he might be rejuvenated by reuniting with his old Chicago coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Dale Tallon with the Florida Panthers. Or perhaps the Minnesota native might consider the Wild an attractive destination. Byfuglien must be on a team’s reserved list by the Feb. 24 trade deadline to be eligible for the post-season.

Byfuglien is signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $7.6 million. He had filed a grievance against the Jets with the NHLPA, but Seravalli said that became moot once the blueliner declined to continue the on-ice portion of his rehab in January. The Jets can still terminate Byfuglien’s contract after the trade deadline if unable to move him before then.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith lists the Panthers, Wild, and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible trade destinations for Byfuglien.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is setting a high asking price for Byfuglien. He’ll want to get that cap hit off his books as soon as possible and use the savings to bolster his roster.

As Seravalli points out, if Cheveldayoff can’t find a trade partner, he can still use the cap savings from Byfuglien’s suspension before the trade deadline and terminate his contract afterward without incurring a penalty. Byfuglien was suspended for refusing to report to camp and underwent ankle surgery without consulting team doctors. That’s sufficient grounds for the Jets to terminate his contract.

The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck suggests Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Ottawa’s Vaclav Namestnikov, and Buffalo’s Conor Sheary as trade options for the Jets, but we don’t know if Cheveldayoff is targeting those players. Namestnikov and Sheary would be more affordable in terms of salary and return than Dumba and Manson. Billeck also suggested New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, but I don’t see that move happening.

LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark took note of the presence of Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin at two recent Colorado Avalanche games and the speculation linking the injury-plagued Avs to Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. Looking at what the Tampa Bay Lightning paid for Blake Coleman and the Vancouver Canucks for Tyler Toffoli, the asking price for Tatar could be costly. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said the recent rash of injuries won’t change the club’s trade-deadline plans, adding he might look for a depth goaltender.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Sakic also indicated there are certain players his club has been eyeing that would be impact players in the dressing room. He also said top prospects Bo Byram, Connor Timmins, Martin Kaut, and Alex Newhook aren’t going anywhere.

Dater believes Sakic seeks a player-for-player deal. He also suggested New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev, Chicago’s Robin Lehner, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, or Ottawa’s Craig Anderson as goalie trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin’s presence in Denver has certainly stoked speculation he and Sakic could be cooking up a deal. If Tatar is available, I’d assume Bergevin would want a good young player as part of the return.

Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Graves have been floated on the internet as trade candidates, but I don’t see Sakic weakening his defense by moving either guy. Tyson Jost also surfaced in the rumor mill, but the 21-year-old forward is seeing fourth-line duty as he struggles to play up to expectations as a former first-round (10th overall) draft pick. Sakic should have an easier time finding a decent backup goalie.

UPDATE ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report the Chicago Blackhawks have set high asking prices (first-round picks, prospects) for potential rentals like goaltender Robin Lehner and defenseman Erik Gustafsson. So far, no one’s biting. Any club interested in Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Ian Mitchell could find the asking price too overwhelming.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger suggested Gustafsson as a good fit for the Vegas Golden Knights. He believes the Blackhawks blueliner could be had for a reasonable price. That’s assuming the Hawks end up lowering their prices if their rental players haven’t moved when deadline day dawns.

NO PAGEAU FOR THE FLYERS?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall doubts the Philadelphia Flyers will be able to acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He doubts the Senators will retain any of Pageau’s salary, and their asking price (first- or second-round pick, plus a prospect) would be too expensive for a rental player.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2020

Should the Canadiens re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk? Will the Leafs shop for a defenseman? Could Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich become available? What’s the latest on the Red Wings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE CANADIENS RE-SIGN KOVALCHUK?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jack Todd believes the Canadiens should re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk, who’s tallied eight points in as many games since joining the club on a one-year, $700K contract earlier this month. Todd feels the 36-year-old winger could continue playing at a high level for the next two seasons. While acknowledging there’s risk in re-signing Kovalchuk, Todd feels it’s pointless to trade him for a draft pick when the Habs are already well-stocked in promising young players.

TVA SPORTS: Pat Brisson, Kovalchuk’s agent, said it’s too early to talk about a new contract for his client. He said Kovalchuk is very happy playing in Montreal.

Will the Canadiens re-sign or trade Ilya Kovalchuk? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the excitement some Montreal observers are feeling about Kovalchuk’s performance thus far. If he continues playing well, regardless of where the Habs are in the standings, perhaps general manager Marc Bergevin will consider re-signing him. However, he could also receive a tempting offer from a rival club before the trade deadline.

As we saw with Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov, Bergevin has shown reluctance to re-sign 30-something stars. If he decides to keep Kovalchuk, he doesn’t have to lock him up to an expensive long-term deal. Given the winger’s age, he could make it a one-year, bonus-laden contract. Of course, that depends on how much interest there is in Kovalchuk heading into this summer’s free-agent market. 

SHOULD THE LEAFS SHOP FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has to have a defenseman of some caliber in his sights, even if Rasmus Sandin proves himself as an NHL regular. Acquiring a blueliner would also have to make sense for the cap-strapped Leafs.

Rental players include New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, San Jose’s Brenden Dillon, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson. However, Dubas has shown he’s willing to add a player who’s not on an expiring contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  If Dubas pursues a blueliner, it’ll likely be a dollar-in, dollar-out deal. There’s a growing sense it’ll cost the Leafs a good, young forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot to bring in a decent top-four defenseman.

The Leafs have been linked to Dillon. The Athletic’s Michael Russo wondered if they’d have any interest in Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin, who’s signed through 2020-21 with an AAV of over $4.1 million.

BUCHNEVICH AVAILABLE?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observed Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich hasn’t generated much offense of late. He’s managed just one goal and three assists in his last 13 games, and two goals and four assists over the last 23 contests.

Brooks speculates Buchnevich “is certainly to be a topic of conversation in the executive suite as Feb. 24 approaches,” regardless of where the Rangers sit in the standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks pointed out Buchnevich has battled flu-like symptoms for the past week, but that doesn’t account for the decline in his production since late November. The 24-year-old winger tallied 21 goals and 38 points in 64 games last season and 43 points as a sophomore in 2017-18.

Buchnevich is signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $3.25-million annual average salary. He would attract interest if the Blueshirts shop him at the trade deadline.

LATEST ON THE RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent mailbag segment, Helene St. James was asked what Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will do at the Feb. 24 trade deadline. She notes Yzerman’s intention to add more picks to the eight he already holds in the 2020 NHL Draft but could be hard-pressed doing so. Struggling pending UFAs such as Mike Green, Trevor Daley, and Jimmy Howard will have limited value in the trade market

Andreas Athanasiou scored 30 goals last season, but the decline in his production this season has tarnished his trade value. St. James feels it’s pointless to move the 25-year-old Athanasiou unless the return boosts the rebuild. The Pittsburgh Penguins might consider him after losing Jake Guentzel to shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is probably Yzerman’s best trade chip. I don’t see him shopping a young core player like Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, or Filip Hronek, and Robby Fabbri has fit in well after being acquired from St. Louis earlier in the season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 19, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 19, 2020

The latest on the Canadiens and Sharks plus updates on Jeff Carter and Erik Gustafsson in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

COULD THE CANADIENS SHOP KOVALCHUK, DOMI OR TATAR?

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports the Montreal Canadiens are very pleased with the performance of Ilya Kovalchuk. Earlier this month, they signed the veteran winger to a one-year, prorated $700K contract. He’s got eight points in as many games, including four goals. As the Canadiens get healthier coming out of the upcoming All-Star break and with the Feb. 24 trade deadline getting close, Johnston believes Kovalchuk could become a trade asset that lands the Habs a draft pick.

Will the Montreal Canadiens shop Ilya Kovalchuk for a draft pick at the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

Earlier in the week, Johnston’s colleague Eric Engels observed Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin faces some difficult decisions in the coming weeks. If leading scorer Tomas Tatar’s value in the trade market is high, Engels suggests Bergevin should explore the winger’s value in the trade market. He also feels the same about defenseman Jeff Petry, but acknowledged it would take a significant offer to tempt Bergevin as youngers blueliners Cale Fleury and Josh Brooks are at least a couple of years away from becoming top-four blueliners.

If the Canadiens can’t find a suitable return for Kovalchuk, Engels proposes attempting to re-sign the veteran winger.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie believes the Canadiens will be sellers leading up to the trade deadline. He feels they should move Kovalchuk if he can fetch a second-round selection. He also thinks a team willing to do a “problem swap” could come calling about Max Domi. Lajoie lists Nick Cousins, Dale Weise, Jordan Weal, and Brett Kulak as other trade candidates.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Jonathan Bernier also ponders what the Habs could get for Kovalchuk in the trade market. He reminds us that the New Jersey Devils traded Brian Boyle last season to the Nashville Predators for a second-round pick. In 2017, the Detroit Red Wings sent winger Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers for a third-round and Dylan McIlrath, while the Colorado Avalanche got a conditional fourth from the LA Kings for Jarome Iginla.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk’s thriving thus far in Montreal. If the Canadiens somehow surge back into the playoff chase in a month, they could hang onto him for the remainder of the season. If not, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to suggest they could get a second- or a third-round in return if he maintains his point-per-game pace.

Domi’s name has surfaced a couple of times in recent speculation. While there’s been some grumbling in the Montreal media over his temper, consistency, and supposedly selfish play, the 24-year-old reached a career-high 72 points last season and is on pace for a respectable 55 points. I’m not convinced that he’s in any danger of getting traded.

Tatar, meanwhile, has another year remaining on his contract. Bergevin doesn’t have to shop the 29-year-old winger this season, but it might not hurt to gauge his value in the trade market.

COULD CARTER HIT THE TRADE BLOCK?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wonders if LA Kings center and former Flyer Jeff Carter might be available at the trade deadline. The 35-year-old Carter is under contract through 2021-22 with an annual average salary of over $5.2 million. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time 30-goal scorer who’s on pace for 23 goals this season.

Hall’s colleague John Clark said the Flyers discussed the possibility of trading for Carter. While he has fond memories of his years in Philadelphia, Carter said he doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles. “I love playing in L.A. and being a part of this team,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter surfaced in the rumor mill midway through last season. A report claimed he could retire if traded, but he denied it. Carter lacks no-trade protection, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the rebuilding Kings looked into moving him.

Nevertheless, his age and annual average value are significant stumbling blocks. An interested club might insist on the Kings picking up a healthy portion of his salary-cap hit. Given the Flyers’ limited cap space, they can’t afford his full AAV.

BLACKHAWKS LISTENING ON GUSTAFSSON?

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently reported the Chicago Blackhawks have spoken with other clubs about Erik Gustafsson. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He and Hawks GM Stan Bowman declined to comment regarding a possible contract extension.

A league source believes they’re checking the market value and could circle back before the trade deadline. They were asking mostly about prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Powers that how the Blackhawks fare in the coming weeks will also determine what happens with Gustafsson. If they climb back into the playoff picture, they could hang onto the blueliner for a run at the postseason.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s word San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is embarrassed the first-round pick he gave up as part of the deal for Erik Karlsson could turn into a lottery selection. As a result, he’ll try to get a first-rounder back before the trade deadline. He’ll have to sweeten the pot because none of his pending UFAs (including Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson) will fetch a first-rounder.

Garrioch speculates teams could call about Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Brent Burns. He also claims New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is sniffing around for a defenseman and should give Wilson a call.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s reportedly let it be known he’s not interested in moving a core player. Of course, that could change if someone were to make a significant offer, but I doubt that type of deal takes place before the deadline.