NHL Rumor Mill – July 3, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – July 3, 2017

Montreal Canadiens want Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov to return, but on the club’s terms.

Latest on Matt Duchene, Alexander Radulov and more in your NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is willing to welcome back unrestricted free agents Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov, but on the Habs’ terms. During yesterday’s press conference announcing the re-signing of Carey Price, Bergevin said he’s made his final offers to Radulov and Markov and won’t negotiate any further.

If both players sign elsewhere, Bergevin said there’s no suitable replacement for them in this summer’s free-agent market. He also said Radulov’s asking price was expensive. “If I told you what Radulov’s agent was asking in January, you’d fall off your chair,” he said in French. He also said it would be first come, first served for the duo. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars are reportedly among the clubs with interest in Radulov. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Radulov, who turns 31 on July 5, is believed seeking a six- or seven-year, $42-million deal, while the Habs apparently countered with a four-year contract. Markov, 38, wants a two-year, $12-million contract. Of the two, I expect Markov to be most likely to return. Still, it’s possible both could land with new clubs very soon, though it’ll likely be for much less than what they’re currently seeking.

Their departures could put Bergevin into the trade market for possible replacements. He’s got nearly $60 million invested in 20 players for 2017-18. He could either re-sign restricted free agent forward Alex Galchenyuk or trade him for a scoring forward or top-four blueliners. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline yesterday reported the Blue Jackets were trying to swing a trade to acquire center Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche. Discussions between Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Avalanche GM Joe Sakic held lengthy trade discussions on Saturday. Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray was assumed to be part of a possible deal for Duchene.

Portzline speculates another Jackets roster player (“perhaps Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand or Cam Atkinson”) would have to be included. The Jackets could also have interest in Ilya Kovalchuk in a sign-and-trade scenario with the New Jersey Devils.

Kekalainen told Portzline yesterday that he was comfortable heading into next season with his current roster, meaning he’s not gutting it just to acquire Duchene or break the bank to land an expensive free agent. Portzline said it’s no secret the Jackets GM wants to add a top-six center and he’s aggressively shopping for one, but he won’t get reckless. The Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins also reportedly had trade discussions with the Avs regarding Duchene.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche GM Sakic apparently won’t budge from his high asking price for Duchene, reportedly with a good, young established top-four defenseman as the centerpiece of the return. It also appears, however, those clubs with interest in the Avs center remain insistent on Sakic lowering his price. This standoff could be resolved as early as today or it could stretch on for weeks.

As for Kovalchuk, NHL Network’s Brian Lawton said he’s heard the left wing seeks a three-year deal worth $6.5 million annually to return to the NHL. If so, I doubt he’ll find any takers for that price. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently reported the Rangers, prior to signing Kevin Shattenkirk on Saturday, inquired into Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba and Carolina’s Justin Faulk. The cost for Barrie was Brady Skjei, which is a non-starter for the Blueshirts. Trouba and Faulk were ruled off-limits by their respective teams. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s understandable that the Avs would want a good young defenseman if they were to move Barrie in a trade. For all the talk of Trouba and Faulk perhaps becoming trade candidates this summer, it appears their teams have no intention of moving them. 

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reported Saturday the Minnesota Wild had talks with unrestricted free agent center Matt Cullen. The discussions, however, failed to yield a deal.