NHL Rumor Mill – February 27, 2020
More trade deadline fallout involving Joe Thornton, Tyson Barrie, Robin Lehner, Zach Parise and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman wondered what the future held for San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton. If he’s not sold on the Sharks as a Cup contender next season, Friedman predicts the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a factor. He believes the Leafs considered adding Thornton before the trade deadline, but can’t confirm it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Thornton, the last thing the Leafs need is a past-his-prime center. It’s obvious to all that the Leafs desperately need to shore up their defensive depth. If management can’t see that, Leafs fans should give up any hope of this club becoming a Cup contender anytime soon.
Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman said they weren’t trading Tyson Barrie unless they got a return that immediately replaced the blueliner plus a sweetener for the future. They would’ve taken Troy Stecher, but the Vancouver Canucks didn’t have the draft picks and weren’t parting with futures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were linked to Barrie leading up to the trade deadline. I wonder if they might try to sign him this summer as an unrestricted free agent. That could depend upon how much he’s seeking and whether it’ll fit within their cap space for 2020-21. Stecher, Jacob Markstrom, Jake Virtanen, and Adam Gaudette are due for raises next season.
Friedman believes the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t want to go past two years on a contract extension with Robin Lehner. The goaltender was shipped to the Vegas Golden Knights on deadline day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t understand the Blackhawks’ reluctance. I’m well-aware of Lehner’s past issues, many of those tied to depression, but he’s turned his life and career around. He won the Masterton Trophy and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season with the New York Islanders. He put up good numbers backstopping a porous Chicago defense and got along well with his Blackhawks teammates. If the Golden Knights don’t re-sign him, Lehner should land a fair contract elsewhere in the NHL.
Friedman also weighed in on the failed effort by the Minnesota Wild to trade Zach Parise to the New York Islanders for Andrew Ladd at the trade deadline. Getting the salary-cap dollars to fit was the sticking point. It was rumored young Isles winger Kieffer Bellows was going to be part of the deal, among other sweeteners. The Wild also had concerns about salary-cap recapture penalties if Parise retired early. Friedman isn’t sure where the deal goes from here.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Bill Guerin hinted the two clubs could revisit those negotiations in the off-season. We’ll see if they can hammer something out.
The New York Rangers trading defenseman Brady Skjei to Carolina allows them to take care of internal business, like Anthony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, dumping Skjei’s $5.25-million annual average value through 2023-24 frees up salary-cap space to re-sign DeAngelo and Strome. The pair are restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer.
Friedman also reported the Edmonton Oilers had an interest in Patrick Marleau before the Sharks traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, and Minnesota Wild were interested in Vincent Trocheck before the Florida Panthers shipped him to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Flames also checked into Wayne Simmonds for the second time in two years. He believes the Islanders had an interest in Mikko Koivu, who opted to stay with the Wild. A lot of teams called the Philadelphia Flyers about winger Scott Laughton, but they weren’t interested in parting with him.