NHL Rumor Mill – January 27, 2022
Could the Canucks make a significant move like trading J.T. Miller? Will the Flyers commence a rebuild by trading Claude Giroux? What’s the latest on Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Evander Kane? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANUCKS AFTER MANAGEMENT MOVES?
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli and Scott Burnside discussed what could be next for the Vancouver Canucks after hiring Patrik Allvin as their new general manager and Emilie Castonguay as assistant GM. They believe the top priority is figuring out what to do with J.T. Miller. The 28-year-old center leads the Canucks with 40 points and is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.25 million.
Seravalli reports the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers (Miller’s former team) have expressed interest. While Miller has enjoyed his time in Vancouver, he could be open to returning to an American team.
Burnside felt an extension with Miller might be possible if he wants to be part of the Canucks’ process over the next four or five years. If not, that extra year on his current contract could fetch a first-round pick, a high-end prospect and a mix of later-round picks.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers’ preference is to re-sign second-line center Ryan Strome but Miller could be a potential replacement. The Canucks asking price is said to be astronomical but Brooks believes it could drop as the trade deadline approaches if the Canucks fall completely out of the playoff race by then.
Brooks envisions Miller playing right wing with Mika Zibanejad or Strome during this season and taking over as second-line center next season if Strome departs as a free agent. He also wondered if the Canucks will take a serious offseason run at acquiring Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere, who was a client of Canucks assistant GM Castonguay when she was a player agent.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins should pursue Miller despite the steep asking price as he would fill their need for a reliable second-line center. He doesn’t feel they should dangle top prospect Fabian Lysell but shouldn’t be afraid to dangle any of their other prospects while they’re in “win-now” mode.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Miller speculation has resurfaced because the Canucks finally have their new management team in place. The assumption is they could trade him because Rutherford will make the decisions on trades involving their core players based on his reputation as a wheeler dealer.
Miller could be shopped if the Canucks fall out of contention by the trade deadline. However, Rutherford indicated he’ll provide input but Allvin will handle the day-to-day operations and will be the key decision-maker. While they could get a solid return for Miller before the trade deadline, the Canucks can also wait until the offseason to peddle him if he doesn’t fit into their long-range plans.
If the Canucks do put Miller on the trade block by the deadline, I believe the Rangers would be better positioned to acquire him than the Bruins, Flames or Wild. They have plenty of salary-cap space and a lot of promising young talent to draw upon for trade bait.
FLYERS LEAVE GIROUX’S FUTURE IN HIS HANDS
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Giana Han reports Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher will be having discussions with Claude Giroux to determine their 34-year-old captain’s future with the club. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and holds a full no-movement clause. Fletcher intends to leave the decision up to Giroux whether he’ll waive it to accept a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giroux will reportedly be discussing his future with his agent next month, perhaps as early as next weekend’s All-Star Game.
Fletcher also indicated he’s looking to aggressively retool his roster rather than engage in a rebuild. The Flyers GM is not sure what moves he’ll make by the trade deadline but indicated “everything’s on the table.” He believes his club needs two or three players to complement the strong core he believes they have when they’re healthy. Despite the injury woes, he felt the club hasn’t played up to expectations and needs more top-end talent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some might scoff at Fletcher’s unwillingness to stage a rebuild but he can also look at other teams that have successfully retooled and enjoyed a quick turnaround in their fortunes. The Nashville Predators are the most notable recent example. They weren’t considered a playoff contender entering this season but are among the top teams in the Western Conference. Whether Fletcher can achieve similar results remains to be seen.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS AND OILERS
THE SCORE: cites The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reporting Evgeni Malkin is willing to accept a pay cut to remain with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His agents have reportedly spoken with Penguins management about a new contract. Malkin’s current cap hit is $9.5 million but he would be pleased with a multi-year deal earning less than teammate Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million AAV).
Kris Letang, meanwhile, believes he’s playing well enough to earn a raise over his $7.25 million annual average value. Yohe reports the Penguins are willing to sign him to a short-term deal with the possibility of a raise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on how short-term those deals could be, how much of a pay cut Malkin will accept and how much of a raise Letang is seeking. Crosby is signed through 2024-25. Those two could prefer three-year deals so they can finish their careers as Penguins with their captain.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reporting there’s a strong sense the Oilers will sign free-agent winger Evander Kane. He’s been skating for over a week in Vancouver and could be ready for games as early as this weekend depending on the outcome of the league’s investigation into whether he violated AHL COVID protocols. ESPN’s Kevin Weekes cites sources saying it’s down to two teams for Kane but the Oilers appear the likeliest destination.