NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020
A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray remains on top of Frank Seravalli’s trade-bait board, followed by Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine.
Seravalli reports the Penguins are looking at an internal salary cap of $75 million. GM Jim Rutherford is looking to free up cap space to “dip a toe” into the free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins have $75.3 million invested in 20 players following yesterday’s trade of Patric Hornqvist to Florida for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour. If they trade Murray it could be for draft picks or prospects. They also have eight blueliners under NHL contracts. One of them could be moved in a cost-cutting deal.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is No. 10 on Seravalli’s list, but everything I’ve read and heard out of Pittsburgh suggests he’s staying put. He’s got an 18-team trade list but also carries a no-movement clause, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft. That could be a sticking point if the Penguins shop him.
Regarding Dumba, Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger believes the Wild could set a high asking price. GM Bill Guerin would love to land a first- or second-line center but could be willing to accept a “softer deal” of a high first-round pick and a good young NHL roster player. He points out they can hold onto Dumba until their price is met.
Seravalli suggested the Blue Jackets could also attempt to move out Alex Wennberg or Markus Nutivaara to clear space to re-sign Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The latter, of course, is the priority. The Jackets could shop Anderson if contract talks stall.
Ekman-Larsson is among several Coyotes (Phil Kessel at No 6 and Darcy Kuemper at No. 12) on Seravalli’s list who could become cost-cutting candidates, along with Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Ekman-Larsson, however, has a full no-movement clause and controls his fate. Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reported Hjalmarsson currently doesn’t intend to waive his NMC.
Laine’s appearance on the trade-bait list prompted criticism suggesting TSN put him there as clickbait. Seravalli’s colleagues Dreger and Pierre LeBrun dispute this, with Dreger claiming Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is listening on Laine. However, he indicated there hasn’t been a lot of action, perhaps in part over economics going forward or the cost of re-signing him before he becomes arbitration-eligible next summer.
LeBrun believes the Columbus Blue Jackets has some interest in Laine while the Carolina Hurricanes had a brief conversation with the Jets that didn’t go far. The Montreal Canadiens could use a scorer like Laine but LeBrun said they currently don’t intend to get into the Laine sweepstakes.
New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, the Ottawa Senators two first-round picks, and Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are also among the top-10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli has Palmieri on that list because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. So far, there’s no indication of what the Devils intend to do with him.
Senators GM Pierre Dorion could listen to offers on those picks. If he moves a first-rounder it’ll likely be the one he got from the Islanders (28th overall) in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade. Fleury’s a goner if the Golden Knights re-sign Robin Lehner.
Wild winger Ryan Donato, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, St. Louis Blues rearguard Alex Pietrangelo and New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome also make the cut between spots 11 and 16.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Donato ($1.9 million for one season) would be a cost-cutting candidate. So would Boychuk for the cap-strapped Isles, who has an eight-team trade list as well as an annual average value of $6 million.
LeBrun believes a club could be interested in acquiring Pietrangelo’s rights because re-signing him for eight years would give them a favorable annual average value. DeAngelo and Strome are both RFAs with arbitration rights. One of them could be traded if the Rangers can’t find a way to shed Henrik Lundqvist’s $8.5 million cap hit for next season.
Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, and Canadiens center Max Domi fill spots 17 through 20.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes acquired Skjei at the trade deadline and recently shipped out Joel Edmundson. They could use a scorer or an experienced starting goalie, but I suspect they’d find other options than moving Skjei.
The Lightning must free up cap room to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. With Johnson carrying a full no-trade clause, Killorn and his 16-team no-trade list seem the most likely to go.
Domi is an RFA with arbitration rights who spent time on the fourth line during the playoffs. He could be moved for a scoring winger if the Habs are comfortable with young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour and Edmonton Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson are in spots 21 through 25.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could move Johnsson in a package deal for a defenseman or in a cost-cutting move to clear cap room to sign a blueliner in free agency. The rise of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi has some pundits wondering about Danault’s future, but I don’t believe the Habs intend to move him. He’s a UFA next summer but it’s best to keep him around in case Suzuki or Kotkaniemi struggle next season.
Montour is an RFA with arbitration rights and he could be moved for a forward. There was talk of the Oilers shopping Larsson for a top-six right winger but that’s died down of late.
Philadephia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak and Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton round out the list. Patric Hornqvist and Mike Matheson are also there but this listing was published before they were traded for each other yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s struggles this season made him a frequent subject of trade chatter. Bozak could be shopped if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo. Hamilton is a UFA next summer but the Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with him.
In other trade-rumor nuggets, Seravalli believes it’s a poorly-kept secret the Vegas Golden Knights could pursue Pietrangelo via free agency but he wonders how they can afford him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They can’t unless they forget about re-signing Robin Lehner or find a way to shed a lot of salary. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. Even moving Fleury’s $7-million AAV won’t leave enough for Pietrangelo and Lehner, who could cost a combined $15 million to sign.
Seravalli also reports many are wondering if Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is quietly checking the trade value of goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has a year remaining on his contract at $7 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney must find a suitable replacement for Rask if he’s going down that road, especially if he still feels the Bruins championship window remains open. Rask has a 15-team trade list.