NHL Rumor Mill – March 10, 2021
COULD THE OILERS PURSUE ERIC STAAL?
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is evaluating his entire hockey operations department. It’s too early to say what this means for head coach Ralph Krueger though some suggest it’s unlikely he’ll be let go in-season. He also said Adams continues to try and make trades.
Pierre LeBrun reports the Sabres’ pending unrestricted free agents are the most likely to move before the April 12 trade deadline. He’s been told Eric Staal would be open to a trade to a contender. The 35-year-old center has a 10-team no-trade list. LeBrun suggests keeping an eye on the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve been looking to upgrade their third line and Staal’s name was among those mentioned internally by the Oilers’ brass.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun pointed out the Oilers are right up against the salary cap so any move would have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. Staal carries a $3.25 million annual average value though his daily remaining cap hit is currently over $1.6 million. Cap Friendly shows the Oilers with over $2.5 million of their long-term injury space remaining.
If Staal is willing to finish the season in Edmonton the Oilers could try to convince the Sabres to take Kyle Turris ($1.65 million AAV through 2021-22) off their hands. However, they’d have to include a sweetener to make that deal palatable.
LATEST ON DEBRUSK
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reports Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy explained his decision to make Jake DeBrusk a health scratch in yesterday’s game against the New York Islanders was based on the winger’s disappointing performance this season.
“At the end of the day, we’re not quite getting out of Jake what we want,” said Cassidy. He acknowledged some of it was due to circumstances beyond the winger’s control, such as injury and bouncing around the roster a bit. Nevertheless, he stressed DeBrusk has been given sufficient playing time but they’re not getting the effort required.
Goss notes the NHL trade deadline is a month away, giving DeBrusk enough time to turn around his season before then. He feels trading the winger when his value is at an all-time low wouldn’t make sense and would only further weaken the Bruins’ already lackluster scoring depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless DeBrusk is part of a larger trade package he’s not going to fetch anything on his own that would provide immediate improvement to the Bruins roster.
TRADE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes it wouldn’t be surprising if the Toronto Maple Leafs made a move within the next 14 days. That would allow sufficient time to minimize quarantine for any player acquired from the United States. Recent rumors have linked to the Leafs to Mattias Ekholm, Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal and Marc Staal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the speculation has the Leafs seeking a top-six forward, with Granlund considered the likely target. I wouldn’t rule out Eric Staal as an option. Forget Forsberg, the Leafs would have to dump considerable salary to take on his $6 million annual average value through 2021-22.
Speaking of Forsberg, Predators GM David Poile said in a recent interview he doesn’t see the winger as a player they’ll move at the trade deadline. Friedman also said the Predators had conversations with the Flames (who seek right-handed shooters) but nothing came of them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Preds could, however, consider moving Forsberg in the offseason if they engage in a full rebuild. The winger could be reluctant to be a part of that or Poile could be unwilling to make a long-term investment in a veteran player during a rebuild.
There’s interest in Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte, who played well in last year’s playoffs. Friedman also believes the Canucks were asked about defenseman Nate Schmidt but doesn’t believe that’s got leg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, maybe on the affordable Motte and not on Schmidt. Moving the latter would weaken an already porous Canucks blue line. They’re only three points out of a playoff spot in the Scotia North Division so they won’t be sellers as long as they’re still in the chase. Besides, Schmidt is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.95 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. Tough to move midseason in a flattened cap situation.
Friedman notes the recent speculation linking the Winnipeg Jets to Ekholm but the price could be too high plus there’s quarantine to deal with. He instead wondered if they might target Travis Hamonic if the Canucks decide they’re out of the playoff race.
The inconsistent Philadelphia Flyers’ plans for the trade deadline will depend upon their play in their next seven games against Washington, the Rangers and Islanders.
Carolina, Colorado and Washington could be in the market for goaltenders. Friedman thinks the Avalanche were looking at Buffalo’s Jonas Johansson as a depth netminder.