Updates on Jeff Skinner and Jake Muzzin plus the latest on the Flyers’ goaltending needs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SUGGESTED TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR JEFF SKINNER
THE ATHLETIC: Ryan Stimson examined some possible trade options for Jeff Skinner if he and the Buffalo Sabres failed to agree to terms on a new contract before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. He acknowledged there’s some confusion around the league over whether the 26-year-old winger’s no-movement clause remains valid after he voided it to accept a trade to Buffalo last summer.
Could the Buffalo Sabres trade Jeff Skinner if he isn’t re-signed before the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)
If the Sabres opt to move him, Stimson believes it should be for “younger players who have shown positive results in a wide variety of situations. No one is going to give up an established forward or back for a Skinner rental, so you’re looking in that 20-to-23 age range and then a pick to continue stockpiling.”
Stimson suggests peddling Skinner to the Nashville Predators for winger Kevin Fiala, to the Columbus Blue Jackets for right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand, to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a return including one of their young blueline talents such as Travis Dermott, Timothy Liljegren, and Rasmus Sandin, or to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Leon Draisaitl or defenseman Oscar Klefbom.
Once the Sabres trade away Skinner, Stimson suggests using the salary-cap money that would’ve been invested in the winger into pursuing a big-impact player via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Stimson is merely spitballing here. He’s not saying the Sabres will trade Skinner before the trade deadline, or that his suggested trade targets are definitely the players the Sabres will pursue if they go that route. There’s a very good chance the two sides hammer out an agreement before Feb. 25, or before July 1 when Skinner becomes eligible for unrestricted free agent status.
Still, one has to wonder if the Sabres are willing to risk losing Skinner for nothing if they can’t re-sign him before the deadline, especially as his trade value is now at its peak. Most of Stimson’s trade proposals aren’t “one-for-one” deals. For example, if they were to swap Skinner to Toronto for Dermott, the Sabres will obviously want other pieces, such as a top draft pick and a quality prospect, as part of the return. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on Skinner’s contract status as we get closer to Feb. 25.
PROS AND CONS OF TRADING JAKE MUZZIN
THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman and Josh Cooper examined the case for and against the Los Angeles Kings trading defenseman Jake Muzzin. They note the 29-year-old is arguably the Kings’ best blueliner this season, he carries an affordable $4-million salary-cap hit through 2019-20 and would be the missing piece for contending teams seeking defensive help. Muzzin might attract a solid return, perhaps even a first-round pick or a high-end prospect.
On the other hand, if the Kings see themselves not that far away from getting back into playoff contention, they’ll need Muzzin to be part of the solution. He shouldn’t be too expensive to re-sign, remains in his playing prime and has emerged as a team leader.
If the Kings decide to move him, the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and perhaps the Minnesota Wild could be worthwhile trade partners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Muzzin hits the trade block before the Feb. 25 deadline he will attract plenty of suitors. In addition to the Oilers, Leafs, and Wild, the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, and Montreal Canadiens could also come calling. He also lacks a no-trade clause, giving the Kings’ plenty of options for possible destinations.
FLYERS MUST TAKE ACTION TO FIX THEIR GOALTENDING
THE HOCKEY NEWS: With the Philadelphia Flyers season slipping away, Jared Clinton believes it’s time for new general manager Chuck Fletcher to take immediate action to address their goaltending beyond claiming Mike McKenna off waivers from Vancouver. Waiting for sidelined Brian Elliott, who hasn’t played in nearly two months, to return in mid-January won’t come in time to save the season.
Short of swinging a blockbuster deal to bring back Sergei Bobrovsky from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Clinton feels Fletcher could address the situation without having to touch the stockpile of draft picks and prospects left by his predecessor. He suggests pending UFAs such as Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov might be had for the right price. He points out the Avalanche could use secondary scoring and proposed offering up Wayne Simmonds in the deal. The rebuilding Wings could have some interest in a pick or prospect for Howard.
Other options could include San Jose’s Aaron Dell, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, Dallas’s Anton Khudobin and Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of Clinton’s proposed options, only Howard might be available, and the rumored asking price is said to be a first-round draft pick. Bobrovsky isn’t going anywhere. I think the Avs will stick with Varlamov, who is often injured and inconsistent.
The Sharks aren’t moving Dell, who’s a solid backup for Martin Jones. Same goes for the Stars with Khudobin as Ben Bishop’s understudy. Anderson is currently sidelined by a concussion and there’s no timetable for his return. With Antti Raanta likely gone for the season, I don’t see the Coyotes peddling Kuemper.