NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2017

Former Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta continues to weigh his options.

Latest on Brian Gionta plus updates on the Golden Knights and Stars in your NHL rumor mill.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: With NHL training camps opening next week, former Sabres captain Brian Gionta is weighing his options. The 38-year-old right wing is an unrestricted free agent.

Gionta’s agent, Steve Bartlett, said a number of teams have expressed interest in his client. The winger had hoped to re-sign with the Sabres but their offseason acquisition of Jason Pominville seems to have filled his right-wing spot. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gionta’s agent didn’t indicate which clubs had interest in his client. At least he’s had some offers but it remains to be seen if he’ll accept any of them. His preference could be clubs in the Eastern Conference, where he’s spent his entire career. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen recently noted five questions facing the expansion Golden Knights entering training camp, with their logjam on defense topping his list. They have 13 defensemen on the roster, with 11 on one-way NHL contracts. Schoen expects general manager George McPhee will attempt to move one or two blueliners before the start of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those d-men could be demoted to the minors. If McPhee shops one or two of them, Clayton Stoner, Luca Sbisa or Jon Merrill could become trade candidates. Don’t expect the younger guys with upside, such as Shea Theodore, Colin Miller or Nate Schmidt, to be dealt. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: During a recent live chat with Stars fans, Mike Heika was asked what he thought the trade value might be for blueliners Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth. Heika said he wasn’t sure, though he believes both could benefit from a fresh start and could be in the top six on several clubs. However, he notes the Stars like both players and believe they could fit well into the club’s new system under new head coach Ken Hitchcock. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Stars will evaluate their performances this season to determine if they fit into the club’s long-term plans. If both continue to struggle to crack the roster on a full-time basis, one or both could hit the trade block later in the season.


NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2016

Teams with serious interest in Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk should be prepared to pay big to acquire him.

Latest on James van Riemsdyk, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jannik Hansen and Patrik Nemeth in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL trade market is currently frozen because so many teams have so little salary-cap room, so many clubs remain in playoff contention and the expansion draft is looming next June. He doubts any major moves are on the horizon this season. 

If a significant player is moved, it could be Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk. With free agency a year away for the 27-year-old, the Leafs could be willing to move him for the right price. As Friedman puts it, teams with serious interest in the winger must be prepared to “ante up.” If the Leafs decide to add more young talent or a top-four defenseman, van Riemsdyk could fetch a quality return. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should the Leafs shop van Riemsdyk, I see that move happening in the offseason, and I think they’ll use him to land a skilled top-four defenseman. 

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could try to add to his roster (perhaps a defenseman) for another run at the Stanley Cup this season. Friedman notes Rutherford rarely waits for the trade deadline to make such moves.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the most obvious trade chip, but the Pens GM must decide if they’re  better with him on the roster to the end of the season. Friedman considers the Dallas Stars a perfect fit for Fleury. He also suggests offering Fleury to the Winnipeg Jets for blueliner Jacob Trouba. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing in a defenseman means the cap-strapped Penguins must shed salary. Trading Fleury and his $5.75 million annual cap hit will do the trick. I consider Dallas the only suitable destination right now, with the Pens taking back Antti Niemi ($4.5 million).

That moves frees up over $1.2 million in cap space for the Pens, providing some room to squeeze an affordable blueliner in at the trade deadline. Of course, this move depends upon Fleury and Niemi accepting the deal by waiving their no-trade clauses. Otherwise, the Stars will have to move Niemi or Kari Lehtonen in a separate deal with another club to take on Fleury. As for Winnipeg and Trouba, I don’t see that one happening. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Jason Botchford considers Canucks speedy winger Jannik Hansen the club’s most marketable trade commodity and feels the time is right to move him. However, Botchford is skeptical Canucks management can be convinced of that. He points out management seems in limbo, unwilling to make deals for a playoff push but also loath to make a rebuilding move by shipping out a veteran for draft picks and prospects. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hansen also has a full no-trade clause. Canucks GM Jim Benning recently said he wouldn’t approach any of his players carrying such clauses about waiving them unless the player asks first. In other words, unless Hansen requests a trade, Benning’s not moving him. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika believes the Dallas Stars should trade defenseman Patrik Nemeth. He feels they have sufficient defensive depth in their system. Moving Nemeth would not only improve his mindset, but also that of fellow blueliners Jamie Oleksiak and Stephen Johns. It would also allow the Stars to carry two extra forwards. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heika speculates that possible trades by the Stars could be determined by where they are early in the New Year. Whether Nemeth becomes trade bait remains to be seen. 

Updates on the Bruins and Stars – August 31, 2016

Updates on the Bruins and Stars – August 31, 2016

Could center Ryan Spooner become a trade chip for the Boston Bruins?

Could center Ryan Spooner become a trade chip for the Boston Bruins?

 The Boston Bruins appear to be stockpiling forwards, plus speculation on possible Dallas Stars trade bait. 

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy notes the Bruins signing yesterday of center Dominic Moore is a curious one, observing they already have depth at that position with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner and Noel Acciari. He points out the Bruins could move Backes or Spooner to the wing or they could lack confidence in Acciari. “Or they could be stockpiling assets to make another run at a defenseman on the trade market. Given Spooner’s talent level and cheap price tag of $950,000, he could be an attractive trade chip.”

Conroy wonders if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will try to package some assets for a top-four defenseman. Sweeney said he’ll continue talking with clubs, but also suggests some younger blueliners in the Bruins system could challenge for jobs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is Sweeney will go into training camp with his current roster and evaluate its performance in preseason play before deciding what moves he has to make for the upcoming season. Spooner, packaged with a first-or second-round pick or a good prospect, could land that elusive top-four blueliner. Feel free to weigh in on this in the comments section, Bruins fans. I’d like to see what you think Sweeney should do. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Asked by a reader which prospects he sees the Dallas Stars moving in a trade this season, Mike Heika named Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth, as promising Julius Honka will need a chance at a roster spot soon.  “The guess is another team will want a forward if the Stars are seeking a goalie. That could be Val Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie or Jason Dickinson. It will depend on what the other team is seeking,” writes Heika. He doesn’t believe the Stars want to part with Honka.

Heika also doesn’t see them pursuing St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He feels it’s time the Stars put their trust in their young defensemen. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have considerable depth in promising young player to use as trade bait this season, especially if they decide to upgrade in goal. Though Nichushkin’s name has surfaced this summer in the trade rumor mill, they don’t seem ready to part ways with him.