NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2018

Top goalie trade options plus the latest on the Canucks and Canadiens in your NHL rumor mill.

Could Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward become a trade target? (Photo via NHL Images)

THN’s LIST OF TOP GOALIE TRADE TARGETS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton lists Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier, Carolina’s Cam Ward, Buffalo’s Robin Lehner and Detroit’s Petr Mrazek as his top-five goaltending targets at the NHL trade deadline. All are pending free agents (Lehner and Mrazek will be restricted free agents), potentially making them trade fodder.

Clinton feels a team such as the New York Islanders might benefit from taking a shot at Raanta. Bernier would be a good pickup for clubs that miss out on Raanta. The Pittsburgh Penguins might benefit from an experienced hand such as Ward backing up starter Matt Murray. Lehner could be a good option for clubs seeking a long-term goaltending option. Mrazek’s recent improvement could bolster his trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the Coyotes’ struggles, I think they want to retain Raanta. Bernier’s doing a splendid job filling in for sidelined Avs starter Semyon Varlamov so he’s not going anywhere this season. I still have my doubts that the Sabres will move Lehner. 

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford knows Ward well from his days as the Hurricanes’ GM, but with the Canes fighting for a playoff berth I don’t see Ward hitting the trade block. Despite Mrazek’s improved performance, his previous inconsistent still makes him a risky acquisition. 

THE SEDINS FUTURE COULD AFFECT THE CANUCKS TRADE DEADLINE PLANS

SPORTSNET/THE VANCOUVER SUN: Iain MacIntyre and Ben Kuzma speculate the Vancouver Canucks’ plans for the Feb. 26 trade deadline could be affected by their plans for Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The twins are unrestricted free agents this summer but they’ve indicated their willingness to return with the Canucks for another season.

If they’re certain to return, it could make it easier to shop pending UFA winger winger Thomas Vanek for the best return possible. If, however, they’re going to retire, perhaps Canucks management will attempt to re-sign Vanek. Their possible retirement could also determine what they seek in return for defenseman Erik Gudbranson. One certainty is the Sedins won’t be moved at the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Sedins are willing to accept reasonable one-year contracts (say, $5 million each), it could be worthwhile having them back for a final season. Both are on pace for respectable 50-plus point performances this season and their experience and leadership could prove beneficial as the club continues to transition toward a younger roster. 

LATEST ON PACIORETTY AND PLEKANEC

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said he’s finding all the trade talk swirling about him frustrating. He insists he doesn’t want to be traded, adding that his family loves Montreal. 

LA PRESSE:  Alexis Belanger-Champagne reports long-time Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec is trying to ignore rumors he could be dealt by the trade deadline. While acknowledging his name is circulating in the rumor mill, he said he doesn’t know who wants him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty and Plekanec both lack no-trade protection and have no say over their trade status. Of the two, Plekanec seems the most likely trade candidate as he’s a UFA this summer, though his $6-million cap hit could be a stumbling block. If Pacioretty gets moved, that’s more likely to occur in the offseason when the Canadiens could get better offers from clubs flush with extra salary-cap dollars.