NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2022

Which Flyers could become trade candidates this season? Is Jonathan Drouin on the outs in Montreal? What’s the latest on the Avalanche, Kings and Flames? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WHICH FLYERS COULD BECOME TRADE CANDIDATES?

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Who becomes trade bait is among the 15 things Gustav Elvin will watch regarding the Flyers this season. There’s a real chance this turns into a rebuilding year for the club which could lead to a roster shakeup.

Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).

Winger James van Riemsdyk is likely to be moved by the March 3 trade deadline. Winger Travis Konecny and defensemen Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim have also surfaced in trade speculation. Trading Sanheim seems far more unlikely but (like van Riemsdyk) he’s in the final year of his contract.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: San Carchidi also believed van Riemsdyk will be shopped by the deadline. He also believes defenseman Justin Braun will be a trade candidate by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is shaping up to be a difficult year for the Flyers unless they surprise the experts and thrive under new head coach John Tortorella. Pending UFAs like van Riemsdyk, Braun and perhaps Sanheim could hit the trade block if they’re out of playoff contention heading into next March.

Provorov and Konecny are both signed through 2024-25 so they could have roles to play in a potential rebuild. However, that could change if general manager Chuck Fletcher (or his successor) decides to tear it all down in a full-fledged roster rebuild. They could also be useful as trade chips as teams could prefer acquiring good players in their mid-twenties with term still remaining on their contracts.

IS DROUIN ON THE OUTS IN MONTREAL?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan took note of Jonathan Drouin being a healthy scratch for the Canadiens’ home-opening win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and carries a $5.5 million cap hit this season.

Drouin has struggled in Montreal and dealt with numerous injuries. Cowan believes it’s obvious he doesn’t have a future with the Canadiens beyond this season and expects GM Kent Hughes will likely look to trade him if he can.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Drouin as part of the Canadiens after this season. However, they’ll have to play him if they hope to boost his stock in this season’s trade market. His cap hit and three-team no-trade list will also be sticking points in any attempt to move him.

LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE, KINGS AND FLAMES

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Colorado Avalanche will be the most aggressive team at the March 3 trade deadline. He thinks they’ll leave no stone unturned in trying to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

LeBrun also believes the Los Angeles Kings will trade one of their right-handed defensemen but not anytime soon. They’re stacked with right-shot blueliners but management could prefer to be patient and see how the season unfolds before moving one of them.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane reports the Flames are still seeking a forward for their third line. Sonny Milano and Cody Eakin weren’t successful in their training camp tryouts so it’s unlikely the Flames will circle back to them.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2022

What’s next for the Canadiens after trading Shea Weber to the Golden Knights? Should the Flyers shop Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS FOLLOWING THE WEBER TRADE?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for my thoughts on the Montreal Canadiens shipping Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights for Evgenii Dadonov on June 16.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is still listening to trade offers for Jeff Petry. The 34-year-old defenseman has three more seasons on his contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million.

RDS.CA: Hughes was asked about Petry during his video conference announcing the Weber trade on Thursday evening. “There is no imminent transaction,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen before the draft.”

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (NHL Images).

Hughes also said he’s had several calls from rival general managers expressing interest in Josh Anderson. While admitting he’s always willing to listen to offers, he has no plans to trade the 28-year-old winger. Anderson’s signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports the Canadiens still have over $80 million invested in 19 players for 2022-23 following the Weber trade with promising restricted free agents like Alexander Romanov and Rem Pitlick to sign. There’s little they can do to clear sufficient cap room to pursue big-ticket talent in this summer’s free-agent market.

Engels expects Petry will be traded but Hughes indicated he’s not going to part with futures to make it happen. Despite the interest in Anderson, there’s no urgency for the Canadiens GM to move him.

Hughes also indicated he likely won’t have clarity on Carey Price’s status until close to training camp or possibly afterward. He intends to proceed with his offseason business as though Price will be on his active roster.

Engels also speculated forwards Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin could be moved this offseason. If they’re not, the Canadiens will gain extra cap flexibility next summer when they become unrestricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s apparent Hughes intends to move Petry. There’s been recent speculation linking the blueliner to several clubs, including the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins. Whether he ends up with those teams remains to be seen.

The Habs GM intends to be patient to find the right deal for Petry. Considering the moves he’s made thus far (Weber on Thursday, Tyler Toffoli, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak before the trade deadline), the return must either fetch the Canadiens an affordable player who can help their roster or futures such as draft picks and prospects.

Anderson is the Canadiens’ best trade chip if Hughes is willing to move him. However, he’ll have to receive an offer that’s too good to refuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anderson’s still wearing a Habs jersey when the 2022-23 season begins.

Drouin and Byron could draw some interest but their respective injury histories could make them difficult to move. Then again, Hughes found a trade partner to take Weber’s hefty salary-cap hit off his hands. We shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him finding a taker for either guy.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently suggested the Canadiens look into acquiring Martin Necas if he no longer fits into the Carolina Hurricanes’ plans. The 23-year-old forward became the subject of trade speculation after a disappointing season amid rumors of a possible rift with Hurricanes’ coach Rod Brind’Amour. He’s completing his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might not be a bad idea to look into Necas’ availability. However, the Hurricanes have some cap issues of their own to deal with.

Cap Friendly indicates they have $19.4 million in cap room and key players such as Vincent Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter and Tony DeAngelo are in need of new contracts. They probably won’t want to take back much salary unless the return is an affordable replacement for one of those three.

SHOULD THE FLYERS TRADE PROVOROV OR KONECNY?

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Prior to the Flyers’ reported signing of head coach John Tortorella, Sam Carchidi suggested it may be time for them to trade Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny. He believes they should use either guy to pursue high draft picks and rising young players to restock their prospect pipeline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carchidi did go on to say perhaps a coach like Tortorella could do a better job bringing out the best in players like Provorov and Konecny. I think that’s what the Flyers’ front office is counting on having gone out and hired “Torts”.

That doesn’t mean Provorov or Konecny wouldn’t be traded if the right offer was made in the coming weeks. However, it seems to me that Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher still believes this club can turn things around with the right guidance behind the bench.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

A look at some of the notable off-season issues facing the Canucks and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance took note of Vancouver Canucks hockey operations president Jim Rutherford’s willingness to play contract hardball with popular head coach Bruce Boudreau. Rutherford told a season-ending press conference yesterday that the team would like to bring the bench boss back on his current contract rather than on an extension. Boudreau’s current deal has an option for next season which he can opt out of by June 1.

Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau (NHL.com)

Drance suggested it was a risky move by Rutherford. He pointed out Boudreau’s coaching stock is sky-high right now following the fine work he did in reverse the Canucks’ sinking fortunes when he took over from Travis Green last December. The Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights are two possible destinations if Boudreau decides to leave.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I pointed out in this morning’s headlines update, Rutherford’s decision gives the impression he’d prefer to bring in a coach of his own choice. He inherited Boudreau, who was hired three days prior.

Rutherford said the Canucks want to bring Boudreau back and the latter has indicated he’d like to stay in Vancouver. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. It’s now up to Boudreau.

Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rick Dhaliwal tweeted that J.T. Miller’s agent Brian Bartlett said his client has made re-signing with Vancouver one of his goals. He wants to help the club go forward and would be happy to sign a contract extension this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller’s been the subject of considerable trade speculation this season. He’s a year away from UFA status and coming off a career-best 99-point season.

Miller is in line for a substantial raise over his $5.25 million annual cap hit. Whether a suitable agreement can be found with a Canucks management looking to bring in younger and affordable talent should ensure the 29-year-old center remains a fixture in the NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is hoping to replicate his 2019 offseason success this summer. Back then, Fletcher hired Alain Vigneault as head coach, acquired and signed center Kevin Hayes, swapped Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen and acquired Justin Braun to bolster the blueline. He also traded down in the first round of the 2019 draft to select Cam York and used an extra second-round pick to select promising Bobby Brink.

Following that blueliner, O’Connor believes Fletcher will attempt one big acquisition, more of a traditional hockey trade (player-for-player) and a smaller buy using B-tier assets. He’ll also need to hire a new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Connor also speculates that Fletcher will look toward a healthy Ryan Ellis and Sean Couturier and the improvement of key players between 23 and 26 already on the roster. He’ll also look to the incoming prospects (like Brink) to further improve their depth.

One big problem for Fletcher is the Flyers’ limited cap space for 2022-23. O’Connor pointed out they have about $8.9 million to address their roster issues. He anticipates that will shrink to $5 million once they re-sign restricted free agents like Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost and Zack MacEwen.

That’s prompted recent speculation suggesting defenseman Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million through 2024-25) or winger Travis Konecny ($5.5 million) could become trade bait. One of them could be swapped for a player with a comparable salary or shed in a cost-cutting deal to free up cap space to pursue free-agent talent.

Whatever Fletcher does this summer, he has to avoid repeating his miscues of the last two offseasons. His moves must at least turn the Flyers back into playoff contenders again. Otherwise, he could find himself unemployed by this time next year.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at some potential offseason trade candidates for the Flyers plus the latest on Phil Kessel and Craig Anderson.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Charlie O’Connor was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers could attempt to offload James van Riemsdyk in order to shed some salary this summer. He noted the club needs to free up cap space to make additions in the offseason, pointing out the 32-year-old winger is a $7 million player whose production has regressed.

Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).

Finding takers for van Riemsdyk won’t be easy. The Flyers could be forced to add a sweetener to make him more enticing in the trade market. It might be easier if they retain half of his salary though it means only saving $3.5 million. A contract buyout won’t clear the full $7 million from their books next season.

Cam Atkinson could be a sell-high trade option given his bounce-back performance this season. However, O’Connor senses the Flyers could prefer retaining him. Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim could also be cost-cutting options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk has one year left on his contract. So does the 26-year-old Sanheim at $4.675 million. Konecny, 25, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.5 million while the 25-year-old Provorov carries a $6.75 million AAV for three more seasons.

As O’Connor observed, those younger players would have more trade value than van Riemsdyk. Depending on this summer’s trade market, those guys probably won’t have to be packaged with someone else or have salary retained to move them.

That’s not to suggest van Riemsdyk can’t be moved this summer. He lacks no-trade protection and will carry an actual salary of $4 million next season after the Flyers pay his $1 million signing bonus. A club seeking to reach the cap floor next season could have an interest in him, provided the Flyers include a draft pick or a prospect in the deal.

SPORTSNET: In his recent “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported the Nashville Predators were among the teams interested in Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Predators will revisit their interest in Kessel this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent? The 34-year-old winger should prove to be an affordable signing at this stage in his career.

Friedman also reported the Buffalo Sabres would like to bring back 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson for 2022-23. The club is willing to wait on his timetable and see how he feels after this season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 20, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 20, 2022

Check out the latest on Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Giordano, Filip Forsberg and Max Domi plus the latest on the Flyers, Jets, Oilers, Canucks and Senators in Part One of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

THE LATEST ON KANE, FLEURY, GIORDANO, FORSBERG AND DOMI.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Patrick Kane’s agent, Pat Brisson, said the long-time Chicago Blackhawks winger will not be dealt at Monday’s trade deadline. They’re also not moving Jonathan Toews or Seth Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane and Toews each carry $10.5 million annual salary-cap hit through 2022-23 with full no-movement clauses. Good luck moving either guy at the trade deadline. Those sort of moves, if they happen at all, will take place in the offseason when teams have more cap space, provided either guy is willing to waive their movement clauses. Jones starts his new eight-year contract next season so he’s staying put as well.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

The Minnesota Wild are believed to have an interest in Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Wild general manager Bill Guerin was Fleury’s teammate with the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo reports Fleury is willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Minnesota. The Blackhawks reportedly want a first-round pick for Fleury but Guerin is adamant he’s not moving his first-rounder. Russo believes he could part with his second-round pick. Whether that’s something the Blackhawks will accept is another matter. Russo also suggests Cam Talbot’s recent improvement could convince Guerin to stick with his current tandem.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano could be a trade target of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The New York Rangers could also be in the bidding for the 38-year-old blueliner. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has let it be known he’s not trading his first-round pick or his top prospects for a rental player. Friedman also believes Leafs rearguard Travis Dermott will be moved no matter what happens. If they fail to land Giordano, Jeff Marek believes they’ll pursue the Philadelphia Flyers’ Justin Braun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken could retain half of Giordano’s $6.75 million if the Leafs want him but Seattle GM Ron Francis apparently seeks at least a first-rounder as part of the return. Unless he drops his asking price or Dubas changes his mind, the Leafs will have to look elsewhere for a defenseman.

Contract extension talks between the Nashville Predators and winger Filip Forsberg reportedly haven’t gone well. It’s believed Predators GM David Poile has tested the trade market on Forsberg but doesn’t think he’ll get traded though that could change with one phone call.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile could surprise us by shipping out Forsberg but doing so could hurt their chances of nailing down a playoff spot. Some folks will say, “So what? They’re not going deep in the playoffs anyway so move Forsberg rather than risk losing him for nothing this summer”. We’ll find out soon enough if the Predators GM feels the same way.

Jeff Marek reports Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi is someone worth watching in the trade market. He’s on an expiring contract and the Washington Capitals are said to be interested in him, perhaps the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. His $5.2 million cap hit could be an issue requiring a third-party deal or the Jackets retaining salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets could be willing to retain some of Domi’s cap hit for the right offer. It’ll be interesting to see where the well-traveled forward ends up.

FLYERS PROVOROV, SANHEIM, KONECNY DRAWING ATTENTION

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek reports there has been interest in other Flyers in the trade market such as defensemen Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov and forward Travis Konecny. There’s no belief the Flyers are in a hurry to move those players though it’s always possible someone could make a big pitch for them before Monday’s trade deadline. Marek believes decisions on those players could be summer decisions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on the reaction of Flyers fans on social media following the Giroux trade and the recent re-signing of Rasmus Ristolainen, they’re not happy with general manager Chuck Fletcher. Moving Sanheim, Provorov or Konecny this summer won’t sit well with them unless they’re getting solid returns.

UPDATES ON THE JETS, OILERS, CANUCKS, SENATORS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports trade conversations are “intensifying” regarding Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp. The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers have been linked to the 27-year-old pending free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation is growing in Winnipeg over what moves Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in mind for his club on deadline day. The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck reports Copp and Paul Stastny are the two noteworthy trade assets. The Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre wondered if Cheveldayoff might acquire a middle-six forward such as the Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk, the Blackhawks’ Dominik Kubalik or the Montreal Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen.

Jeff Marek doesn’t expect the Edmonton Oilers to make a big splash at the trade deadline. They’ve explored the goalie market but that hasn’t borne fruit. They’re happy with their forwards but could seek a left-shot defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson shares Marek’s opinion. He mentions they’ve been linked to Ottawa Senators forward Nick Paul, Flyers defenseman Justin Braun, Detroit Red Wings blueliner Marc Staal and Kraken rearguard Carson Soucy.

Marek also believes the Canucks could be sellers if they don’t gain ground in the playoff race this weekend. Forwards Brock Boeser and Conor Garland have come up in trade rumors. He doesn’t expect they’ll move center J.T. Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could peddle Boeser and/or Garland at the trade deadline but they can also wait for the offseason if there are no current offers to their liking. Boeser is a restricted free agent this summer while Garland is signed through 2025-26. The Province’s Patrick Johnston reports the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Maple Leafs and Bruins have been linked to Garland.

Friedman believes the Ottawa Senators and pending UFA forward Nick Paul aren’t far apart in contract talks but both sides appear dug in. Both sides want to get a deal done but don’t yet have an agreement on the money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators held Paul out of last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the New York Rangers are pushing hard to acquire Paul, while the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild are also believed among the suitors.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2022

Are the Avs setting the table for a big move? Could Tyler Bertuzzi or Sean Monahan be moved before the trade deadline? What’s the latest on Ben Chiarot and Andrew Copp? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

AVALANCHE COULD HAVE A BIGGER DEAL IN STORE

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers speculates Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic could be preparing for a bigger move after making two trades in as many days. On Monday, he shipped a draft pick and prospect to the Anaheim Ducks for Josh Manson. Yesterday, he sent Tyson Jost to the Minnesota Wild for the more affordable Nico Sturm.

Chambers believes Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux and San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl could be most enticing to the Avalanche if they can find sufficient salary-cap space to acquire them. Swapping Jost for Sturm gives them almost $3 million in projected trade deadline cap space. They could also garner additional flexibility by placing sidelined winger Gabriel Landeskog ($7 million annual cap hit) and defenseman Samuel Girard ($5 million) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic isn’t done dealing. I believe he’s in “go-for-it” mode this season with his club riding high in the standings, especially after they came up short in last year’s playoffs. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make a major move before Monday’s trade deadline.

BERTUZZI, MONAHAN LATEST DAILY FACEOFF TRADE TARGETS

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added Detroit Red Wings winger Tyler Bertuzzi and Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan to his growing list of NHL trade targets as the March 21 deadline approaches. Bertuzzi debuts at No. 13 and Monahan at 15.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

Seravalli said Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has told teams he’s “open for business”. Just about everyone other than rookies Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond is believed to be available.

The Flames, meanwhile, would prefer not to move Monahan now while his trade value is at its lowest. However, there are teams said to be interested to see if the 27-year-old center can reboot his career with another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi is signed through next season with a $4.75 million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. Monahan, meanwhile, carries a $6.375 million cap hit through next season and has a 10-team no-trade list.

The Wings and Flames don’t have to move either guy at the trade deadline but it doesn’t hurt to gauge the market. They could wait until the offseason when they’re likely to find more suitors with available cap space willing to make deals.

The Flames, however, could be under greater pressure to move Monahan. As Seravalli observes, they can’t afford to carry Monahan’s contract if they intend to sign Johnny Gaudreau to a long-term contract extension. Maybe they can find a suitable offer before Monday.

LATEST ON CHIAROT, COPP, AND MIDDLETON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports interest has intensified in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot since the Avalanche acquired Josh Manson. The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues are among the potential suitors. The Canadiens are interested in Calgary prospect Jakob Pelletier but LeBrun isn’t sure if the Flames will move him. The Hurricanes lack a first-round pick but maybe they can entice the Habs with a prospect or two while the Blues don’t want to pay the asking price of a first-round pick.

Darren Dreger said the Minnesota Wild also has an interest in Chiarot but they also don’t want to part with a first-rounder. Meanwhile, there’s discussions between the two clubs about prospect center Jack McBain, who has told the Wild he doesn’t intend to sign with them. The asking price is a second-round pick, which doesn’t worry the Canadiens provided they can get him signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are also rumored to be interested in the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov. It will take significant offers to acquire either guy, much more than what it could cost to land Chiarot. Maybe they can tempt the Canadiens with a couple of quality prospects if no other club meets the Habs’ asking price.

Dreger also believes the Winnipeg Jets will soon have to reach a decision whether they’ll retain or trade pending UFA forward Andrew Copp. He said the Avalanche, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are among those interested in the 27-year-old Jet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting situation for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. He risks losing Copp for nothing to free agent in July, but trading him now would signal to his roster that he’s giving up on reaching the playoffs. They’ve won four of their last five, by the way, and are just two points out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

LeBrun also reports Jacob Middleton is garnering interest in the trade market. The 26-year-old San Jose Sharks defenseman is seeing top-four minutes alongside Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns and carries an affordable $725K cap hit. The asking price is a second-round pick plus another pick or prospect. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins have been linked to the physical left-side blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun indicates, Middleton’s a great story this season, going from signing an AHL contract with the Sharks to seeing significant minutes on their blueline. However, what’s working for him in San Jose might not work for him with another club. Interested teams should tread carefully here.

UPDATE ON THE LEAFS

TSN: Chris Johnston reports his sources indicated the Maple Leafs are looking for help in goal, on defense and on their forward lines. They’ll have to trade someone off their roster to make the dollars fit if they intend to make multiple additions before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NYI Hockey Now’s Stefen Rosner cites a source claiming New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov is on the Leafs’ shortlist. Whether they’re on Varlamov’s list of preferred trade destinations, however, is another matter.