Ovechkin Tops NHL’s 2021 UFA Class
Alec Martinez is reportedly on the verge of becoming a Golden Knight, more talk of Jeff Carter returning to the Flyers, the latest on Chris Kreider, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KINGS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS WORKING ON MARTINEZ TRADE
LOS ANGELES TIMES/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie yesterday reporting the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights are close to finalizing a deal sending defenseman Alec Martinez to the Golden Knights for two second-round draft picks. The move is expected to be completed today. Martinez was held out of last night’s game against Winnipeg for precautionary reasons.
THE ATHLETIC’s Jesse Granger suspects the delay could be salary-cap related on the Golden Knights side.
**UPDATE** The trade has been completed, with Martinez heading to the Golden Knights for a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have been in the market for a top-four, right-side defenseman for some time. There was talk they were eyeing New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, but that no longer appears the case.
Martinez, 32, would bring a welcome presence on the Vegas blueline. He’s got plenty of postseason experience, winning two Stanley Cups with the Kings. He’s also signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $4-million annual average value. The Golden Knights could shift Shea Theodore to the left side and pair him with Martinez.
MORE “CARTER-TO-FLYERS” CHATTER
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman thinks the Philadelphia Flyers could consider bringing back Jeff Carter, depending on the health of young center Nolan Patrick.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall points out how difficult it would be for the Flyers to pull that off. They have just over $2 million in salary-cap space, meaning there’s not enough to acquire Carter even if the Kings absorbed half of his $5.2-million AAV. They would have to do some cap juggling for the remaining two years of his contract. There’s also the question of what the Kings would want in return, and what assets the Flyers can spare.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stranger things have happened, and it would make a nice story for Carter to return to the city where his NHL career began. Given the cap difficulties, however, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could be forced to seek more affordable alternatives.
UPDATE ON KREIDER
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues could be interested in New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider. The Washington Capitals could be a stealth candidate, but their recent acquisition of defenseman Brenden Dillon probably takes them out of the bidding.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Avalanche and Bruins are the front-runners for Kreider. He also lists the Blues, Capitals, and Florida Panthers among others who could come calling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues’ acquisition of defenseman Marco Scandella could be the only move they make at the deadline. Sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko is recovering well from early-season shoulder surgery and could return before the end of the season. Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater believes the Avs could target Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar if they fail to land Kreider.
THE LATEST ON TROCHECK
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck is garnering attention. The 26-year-old has two year left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million. Friedman feels most teams can afford that, though he won’t be inexpensive.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t believe the Panthers are shopping Trocheck but acknowledged teams are calling about him. The Panthers desperately need a top-four defenseman, so they have little choice but to listen to offers. He wonders if they might have an interest in Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, but gets the sense Wild GM Bill Guerin wants to retain Brodin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Dale Tallon will want a defenseman for Trocheck. Failing that, he might have to get creative. LeBrun suggested dealing the center for picks and prospects that could be flogged to another club for a top-four blueliner.
IS LEHNER AVAILABLE?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if a lack of progress in contract talks is affecting Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner, who was unusually quiet during a recent game. The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly interested in Lehner and have an extra first-round pick to dangle as trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes fading, GM Stan Bowman could listen to offers for Lehner if he remains unsigned by the deadline. We’ll see what happens.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds remains a player of interest for the Vancouver Canucks. Their recent acquisition of Tyler Toffoli was related to filling the gap left by the sidelined Brock Boeser. They still haven’t found a suitable replacement for Micheal Ferland, who’s out for the season due to concussion symptoms. Simmonds has an eight-team no-trade list, but the Canucks aren’t believed to be on it.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also thinks the Canucks could consider adding Simmonds, but that could be difficult to do without a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Canucks will still add toughness if they can’t land Simmonds. They could be faced with considering more affordable options. Vancouver GM Jim Benning surprised us with his acquisition of Toffoli, so he could have another trick up his sleeve before the deadline.
ATHANASIOU’S VALUE COULD RISE
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports injuries to contending teams could bolster the trade value of Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou. The Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks could be in play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager (and former Red Wings GM) Ken Holland might be interested in Athanasiou. However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Oilers’ injuries and winger Zack Kassian’s seven-game suspension is creating problems for how Holland will approach the deadline. While he’d love a third-line center like Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau for a right-winger for Connor McDavid’s line, he’s not prepared to part with a first-round pick and a top prospect for a rental player. Many of those injured Oilers aren’t on long-term injury reserve, giving Holland limited cap space.
The Canucks’ acquisition of Tyler Toffoli likely rules them out for Athanasiou. He could be a fall-back choice if the Avs lose out in the bidding for Kreider.
WILL KOVALCHUK STAY OR GO?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates the Montreal Canadiens could likely trade winger Ilya Kovalchuk if an agreement on a contract extension can’t be reached before the trade deadline. He suggests the Avalanche and Bruins as possible destinations.
Are the Canadiens shopping Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry? Should the Islanders attempt to acquire Kyle Palmieri from the Devils? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Kings? Find out in this Sunday’s NHL rumor roundup.
CANADIENS NOT SHOPPING TATAR AND PETRY
TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie dismissed recent trade speculation regarding Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry. He claimed the Montreal Canadiens won’t move either player unless they get golden offers, which he doesn’t believe they will. Lavoie also doesn’t expect Habs general manager Marc Bergevin will be busy at the trade deadline, as he’s looking toward winning next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar and Petry are also signed beyond this season, so Bergevin isn’t under pressure to trade them now. If the Habs keep clawing their way back into the playoff chase, the less likely Bergevin will be a seller by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
SHOULD THE ISLANDERS PURSUE PALMIERI?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders what it would cost the New York Islanders to acquire winger Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils. “Oliver Wahlstrom? Well, maybe the Devils would like to toss Blake Coleman into the mix, then. The Islanders could add Josh Ho-Sang.” He also wondered if Devils interim GM Tom Fitzgerald would move Palmieri or Coleman by the Feb. 24 trade deadline before contract extension talks starting July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Canadiens with Tatar and Petry, the Devils aren’t facing pressure to move Palmieri or Coleman before the trade deadline. Unless those two want out, management can wait and see how things unfold in contract discussions this summer. It would also be wise to determine if Fitzgerald stays on as GM or someone else takes over before deciding the fates of Palmieri and Coleman.
LEAFS TO WAIT FOR HEALTH UPDATES ON RIELLY AND CECI
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s a lot of talk suggesting the Toronto Maple Leafs could go out and get another defenseman because injured blueliners Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci could be sidelined for a long time. However, the Leafs intend to wait for the health reports on the two rearguards. They’ll know more within the next couple of weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Rielly and Ceci are sidelined until the playoffs, the Leafs can place both on long-term injured reserve and use the savings to bolster their blueline. Because there’s no salary cap in the playoffs, the Leafs wouldn’t have to shed salary to make room for those injured d-men when they are ready to return.
LATEST KINGS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights are among the teams interested in Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. He also said the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames have been linked to Kings winger Tyler Toffoli.
UPDATES ON KREIDER AND PAGEAU
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports contract talks are set to begin this week between the New York Rangers and Chris Kreider. It doesn’t sound as though there have been any contract discussions of late between the Ottawa Senators and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
The latest on the Rangers, the Leafs might not be done dealing, plus updates on the Flames, Kings, Canucks, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doubts Henrik Lundqvist will be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but he can’t imagine the long-time Rangers goaltender will return with the Blueshirts next season. Buying out the final season of Lundqvist’s contract in June will allow the netminder and the club to “move independently into the future.” It would free up $3 million from their salary-cap payroll next season.
Jacob Trouba‘s no-move clause kicks in on July 1. Brooks thinks Rangers management would be foolish not to listen to offers for the 25-year-old defenseman before then. He feels promising Adam Fox will soon become their No.1 right-side defenseman. Fox is on an entry-level contract through 2021-22 and would be more affordable than Trouba’s $8 million annual average value. Brooks feels the Rangers need more from Trouba, who’s struggled to adjust in his first season in New York.
TSN: Pierre Lebrun reports contract talks have finally begun between the New York Rangers and the agent for winger Chris Kreider. He feels it’ll be difficult for the Rangers to re-sign Kreider, but there will be an effort made.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Lundqvist during the off-season. He’s coming to the end of his illustrious career, but might not be keen being relegated to a backup role with a rebuilding club next season. A trade is possible, but only if he waives his no-movement clause and if the Rangers absorb part of his $8.5 million AAV.
Seems a bit premature to give up on Trouba after only a year. I’ll be surprised if they consider moving him this summer. If there are clubs interested in him, the Rangers could be forced to pick up part of that expensive cap hit or take back another expensive contract in return.
LEAFS IN THE MARKET FOR A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN
TSN: Darren Dreger believes injuries to Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci puts the Toronto Maple Leafs in the market for a top-four defenseman. With the Los Angeles Kings retaining half of the recently-acquired winger Kyle Clifford’s salary, Dreger believes the Leafs are in a good position with Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot if the right deal can be found.
NHL.COM: Dave McCarthy reports Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Rielly’s status will determine what they’ll do leading up to the trade deadline. Rielly is expected to be re-evaluated at the end of this week. “We would want someone to move the needle for us in the long run, not in the short run unless it was the perfect deal,” said Dubas.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan suggests Anaheim’s Josh Manson or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba could fit the bill if the Leafs go shopping for a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space means Dubas must get creative to add a top-four defenseman under contract beyond this season. If he does acquire one, he must ensure he can free up sufficient room for when Rielly comes off long-term injured reserve.
If Manson’s available (and I don’t think he is), the Ducks won’t just give him away. The same goes for Dumba. Manson also carries a $4.1 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 12-team no-trade list. Dumba’s AAV is $6 million through 2022-23.
LATEST ON THE FLAMES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the recent injury to Mark Giordano could affect the Calgary Flames’ trade plans. There was talk blueliner T.J. Brodie could be available and they could pursue a top-six, right-shot winger. With Giordano sidelined, a source tells LeBrun they might instead pursue a depth defenseman. He’s not saying Brodie won’t be traded, but Giordano’s absence makes that more difficult.
Darren Dreger reports some wonder if Flames forward Sam Bennett is ready for a change. The Flames don’t want to move Bennett and they’re not actively shopping the versatile forward. Nevertheless, his name has been in the rumor mill for some time. Dreger believes Bennett would like to prove he’s a top-six forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After trading Michael Frolik to Buffalo last month, it was assumed the Flames would pursue a top-six forward. Giordano’s hamstring injury complicates things. Their recent slump will only ratchet up the pressure on GM Brad Treliving.
UPDATE ON MARTINEZ
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez remains available. The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have shown various degrees of interest, but the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t among them. The asking price is believed to be a second-round pick and either another pick or a prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that the Leafs weren’t interested in Martinez. He’d fit their wish to bring in a defenseman with term on his contract. It could be because they’re awaiting word on Morgan Reilly’s condition.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports uncertainty over the health of sidelined winger Micheal Ferland could push them into the trade market. He said New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds has come up in their internal discussions. They had an interest in Simmonds last summer before he signed with the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds is on a one-year contract worth $5 million and lacks no-trade protection. However, he reportedly prefers staying with the Devils. The Canucks only have just over $1 million in deadline cap space.
MORE SABRES SPECULATION
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Buffalo Sabres will continue their search for a forward. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s name has been in the rumor mill for a while. Dreger also suggested blueliner Brandon Montour, though he’s not saying he’s being shopped. The only way he sees either rearguard getting traded is for a top-six forward.
#Habs Kovalchuk said he’d like to wait a couple of weeks before asking his agent to open talks about a potential contract extension in Montreal. Kovalchuk said he wants to concentrate on picking up ground on the teams they’re chasing before addressing his personal situation.
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) February 6, 2020