Sabres Reportedly Open For Trade Business
The Sabres are reportedly open for business plus the difficulty in trading Carey Price or moving Brent Seabrook’s contract in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER) Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres are wide open for business and are listening to all options. They join the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings among the teams out there in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal and Hall appeared on both TSN’s recent trade-bait list and The Athletic’s trade deadline big board. Defenseman Brad Montour also appeared on both boards while Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt were other Sabres appearing on The Athletic’s list.
Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Eichel had not requested a trade. However, it wouldn’t be shocking if Adams was at least listening to calls about his captain. Given Eichel’s status among the league’s elite players, he would fetch a significant return. However, that type of move usually takes place during the offseason when teams have the cap space and available assets to move.
Reinhart could also fall into the category of an offseason move but we can’t dismiss the possibility he could be shopped at the April 12 trade deadline. The 25-year-old winger is on a one-year, $5.2 million contract and has arbitration rights this summer.
Staal, Hall and Montour are slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer. Hall has indicated he’s willing to discuss a new contract with the Sabres. Given his poor performance this season, however, Adams could peddle him at the trade deadline if he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause.
Staal must submit a 10-team no-trade list but I daresay he’d be open to going to a contender. Montour lacks no-trade protection.
COULD THE HABS TRADE PRICE THIS YEAR?
SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked if there was any possibility of the Montreal Canadiens trading goaltender Carey Price to the Seattle Kraken. Price is from British Columbia and lives in Kelowna during the offseason with his family. His wife is from Washington State and Price played his junior hockey there with the Tri-City Americans.
Engels points out the difficulty in moving Price’s contract. His no-movement clause means the Canadiens must protect him in the Seattle expansion draft. If Price agreed to waive that clause a trade would be difficult to pull off due to salary-cap implications, the current economic climate, and the way Price’s contract is structured.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, short answer: no.
Price’s struggles this season have prompted some Canadiens followers to suggest the Habs try to expose him in the Seattle expansion draft or trade him to the Kraken this summer. Engels does a nice job breaking down why that’s not going to happen. Sure, anything’s possible and perhaps a complex deal could be made to trade Price, but there are simply too many factors working against it.
COULD THE BLACKHAWKS ATTEMPT TO TRADE SEABROOK’S CONTRACT?
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Power looked at the Chicago Blackhawks options with Brent Seabrook’s contract. The 35-year-old defenseman announced the end of his playing career last week due to injuries but he hasn’t officially retired. He has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.875 million.
Because he cannot play anymore due to injuries, the Blackhawks cannot buy him out. They will place Seabrook on long-term injury reserve. They could attempt to trade the contract to a budget team that needs to reach the salary-cap minimum but Powers suspects the $15.5 million in actual salary remaining on that deal make it difficult to move. The flattened salary cap would be another stumbling block.
Powers suggested shopping Seabrook’s contract to a team already in salary-cap hell that could use his LTIR status to garner some extra cap room. It could also cost the Blackhawks a first-round pick to tempt a team into taking that contract off their hands.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Seabrook’s contract would be easier if this were a normal time when the salary cap was guaranteed to rise by $3 million or $4 million each year. But it’s not, and there might not be many teams willing to do so now.
A look at TSN’s latest trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: With the NHL’s Apr. 12 trade deadline six weeks away, Frank Seravalli lists Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm, Columbus Blue Jackets blueliner David Savard, New York Rangers rearguard Tony DeAngelo, Buffalo Sabres defender Brandon Montour and Sabres winger Taylor Hall among the top-five players on his trade-bait board.
Ekholm has a year remaining on his contract and could fetch more than Savard, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, Seravalli believes the latter’s playoff experience and right-hand shot will draw interest from postseason contenders. It remains to be seen, however, if Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Philly’s Jordan Hall observed recent trade speculation linked Ekholm to the Philadelphia Flyers. However, he believes the club’s performance over the next month will determine if they need external help on their blue line.
Seravalli notes Kekalainen tends to let pending UFAs play out their contracts but that might change if the Jackets fall further out of playoff contention. DeAngelo remains available but his banishment from the Rangers over his personal issues makes rival general managers reluctant to take a chance on him right now.
It’s only a matter of time until the Sabres become sellers. Montour and Hall are both pending UFAs but the latter has a full no-movement clause. His camp was reportedly interested in talking contract extension with the Sabres but that might have changed given the club’s ongoing poor play. His $8 million cap hit could be difficult for most contenders to absorb.
Predators winger Mikael Granlund, Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan, Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen, Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett and Canucks winger Tanner Pearson round out the top ten.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund, Ryan and Pearson are pending UFAs on teams with fading playoff hopes. Granlund was linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs while Ryan acknowledged the possibility he could be traded but hopes to return to the Wings this summer as a free agent.
Virtanen and Bennett are fixtures in this year’s rumor mill. The Canucks reportedly attempted to ship him to the Anaheim Ducks over the weekend for Danton Heinen but his $3.75 million in actual salary for next season was a rumored sticking point. The Athletic’s Thomas Drance believes this shows the Canucks still hope to get something decent back in return.
The Bennett trade chatter picked up a month ago when his agent went public with a trade request. Flames GM Brad Treliving recently stated his club will decide the versatile forward’s fate and not his agent. Treliving may be reluctant to move Bennett this season because he ramps up his game in the playoffs. However, he could change his mind at the trade deadline if the struggling Flames fail to improve.
Red Wings forward Luke Glendening, St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, Sabres center Eric Staal, Wings blueliner Marc Staal and Senators winger Ryan Dzingel fill the final five spots on the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Ryan, Glendening and Marc Staal are both pending UFAs who could be shopped at the deadline for draft picks. The latter still has a no-movement clause but could waive it for a contender. Detroit Sports Nation cited a report in The Athletic quoting an NHL executive’s belief that Wings GM Steve Yzerman could shop a young forward like Tyler Bertuzzi or Anthony Mantha if the right deal came along. Bertuzzi could draw more interest but Yzerman could prefer moving the talented-but-inconsistent Mantha, who also has a bit of an injury history. He’ll likely seek a good young player in return.
Dunn was the hot topic of trade chatter a month ago but that has died out as the Blues deal with an injury-ravaged roster. Eric Staal still has a 10-team no-trade list but his experience could make him an invaluable addition to a playoff club. Dzingel was recently acquired by the Senators from the Carolina Hurricanes but could also be moved by the trade deadline for a draft pick.
The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plus updates on the Predators, Sabres, Coyotes, Kings, Red Wings and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cited Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley appearing on Andy Strickland and Cam Janssen’s podcast where he said he doesn’t want goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to be traded. “He never came close to be part of a deal,” said Foley. “I would’ve had a big problem with it if that had been presented to me.” Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to reacquire Fleury through another team and they thought they were close to a deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman indicated if Foley doesn’t want Fleury traded then that’s the end of it. The 36-year-old goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Friedman believes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay with the Edmonton Oilers and management wants to keep him. The biggest challenge is the economic landscape is recovering more slowly than expected.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the salary cap is likely to remain at $81.5 million for next season, affecting how much the Oilers can comfortably afford to invest in a long-term extension for Nugent-Hopkins.
Following up on his Saturday report regarding the Nashville Predators’ trade speculation, Friedman said their deep respect for aging goaltender Pekka Rinne means they want him to retire in their uniform. They have no desire to move defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. They’re willing to listen to trade offers but it will be difficult to pry away Filip Forsberg and Dante Fabbro.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators most likely to be traded are pending unrestricted free agents like Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula or those on affordable contracts (Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok) that expire at the end of 2021-22. They’ll entertain offers for expensive underachievers such as Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen but I doubt there will be much interest in either guy.
The Buffalo Sabres are making Brandon Montour available. The 26-year-old defenseman is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer.
The Arizona Coyotes are looking for a center. They could also be interested in a rental player like Montour or a winger like the Vancouver Canucks’ Tanner Pearson if he becomes available.
Don’t expect the Los Angeles Kings to become buyers if they remain in playoff contention by the trade deadline. General manager Rob Blake intends to stick with his rebuilding plan.
UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS AND FLAMES
TSN: Frank Seravalli believes three Detroit Red Wings – Bobby Ryan, Luke Glendening and Marc Staal – could draw attention from rival clubs as the Apr. 12 trade deadline approaches. Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, said the Calgary Flames’ recent slump sparked speculation whether GM Brad Treliving was up to something. However, it seems all’s quiet on the Flames front.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Ryan, Staal and Glendening could be playing elsewhere by Apr. 12. As for the Flames, Treliving is remaining patient with his roster but his hand could be forced if they don’t show significant improvement. Complicating things, of course, are the COVID protocols and travel restrictions for any players acquired from American teams.
Analysis of a list of early potential trade-rental candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the potential trade-rental candidates among this year’s NHL cellar-dwelling teams. He considers the pickings slim for those pending unrestricted free agents who could become available at the Apr. 12 trade deadline.
The notable names on the Buffalo Sabres include Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Brandon Montour. Bobby Ryan and Marc Staal are among the Detroit Red Wings’ pending UFAs. Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Pekka Rinne are the noteworthy Nashville Predators while the Ottawa Senators’ list includes Derek Stepan and Ryan Dzingel.
Hall is the standout in this group and Fox is skeptical he’ll sign an extension with the struggling Sabres. He feels Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams must move Hall if he hasn’t re-signed by Apr. 11.
Eric Staal must submit a 10-team no-trade list. Centers are always in demand and he carries a reasonable $3.25 million salary-cap hit. Brother Marc, meanwhile, could help clubs in need of a dependable, stay-at-home defenseman.
Fox feels Stepan and Haula could help a contender seeking a third-line center. Montour, a right-handed shot, is only 26 and should still have better days ahead.
Granlund could be more successful playing sheltered minutes on a good team’s third line than trying to produce on a bad team’s top line. If the Toronto Maple Leafs were willing to take a chance on Alex Galchenyuk then someone should be willing to take a chance on Dzingel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Fox’s assessment of the limited trade options available for contenders seeking quality playoff rental options. Nevertheless, I’d like to add a few points.
Fox published this list of pending UFAs prior to Friedman’s report last Saturday listing Rinne among the Predators’ three untouchables along with Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. It sounds like Nashville GM David Poile wants the 38-year-old to finish his NHL career with the only team he’s ever played for. His age, $5 million cap hit and declining performance would significantly hurt his trade value even if he was available.
Ryan could be an affordable gamble for a club seeking an experienced depth forward. He’s on a $1 million contract and has nine points in 19 games with the rebuilding Red Wings. He turns 34 next month and his best years are behind him. However, a playoff contender could gamble on him rising to the occasion the way Corey Perry did for the Dallas Stars in last year’s postseason.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last week linked Granlund with the Leafs, noting they tried to sign him last fall but couldn’t make the dollars fit. Perhaps they’ll try to acquire him if they still want to add a top-six forward before the deadline.
COULD ZIBANEJAD’S STRUGGLES TURN RANGERS TOWARD EICHEL?
Zibanejad is having a horrible follow-up thus far to last year’s 41-goal effort. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2021-22. The decline in his production will affect potential contract extension talks.
Brooks suggests Eichel could be ripe for the picking with the Sabres once again struggling in the standings. The 24-year-old center has five years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $10 million.
If the Rangers go that route they’ll have to include 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as part of the return. “The Sabres aren’t moving their captain to New York for a handful of expendable parts,” writes Brooks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad’s early-season woes are concerning for the Rangers. He’s shown little sign thus far of breaking out of his slump. Whatever’s behind it, be it a medical issue, putting too much pressure on himself, or struggling to cope with heightened expectations, Zibanejad’s play this season is hurting the Rangers’ playoff hopes and will impact his contract extension talks this summer.
The Rangers are well-positioned to make a competitive bid for Eichel if they choose to go that route. They’ll have sufficient cap space to take on his $10 million AAV plus they’re loaded with promising young talent to tempt the Sabres. Lafreniere or 2019 second-overall pick Kaapo Kakko will have to be part of the package.
SHOULD THE CANADIENS TARGET ERIC STAAL?
TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie recently suggested the Montreal Canadiens should consider targeting Eric Staal before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. He speculated the 36-year-old Sabres center might be tempted to leave the struggling club. Staal also appears at ease playing in Montreal, tallying 45 points in 50 career games against the Canadiens in their home rink.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal could accept a trade to a playoff contender if the Sabres decide to become sellers leading up to the deadline. Whether it would be the Canadiens remains to be seen given his a 10-team no-trade list.
The Habs are struggling right now but general manager Marc Bergevin might not be ready to shake things up just yet. Any player he acquires from an American-based team must self-isolate for two weeks after crossing the US-Canada border before joining the Canadiens.
LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Adrian Dater was asked about the Avalanche’s backup goaltending. With Pavel Francouz week-to-week with a lower-body injury, they’re making do with Hunter Miska and Adam Werner backing up starter Philipp Grubauer. Dater wonders if San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk might be available if GM Joe Sakic decides to shop for help between the pipes if Francouz remains on LTIR.
Dater also believes the Avalanche could use a little more muscle, pointing out that they were pushed around during last year’s series against the Dallas Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic will likely remain patient but that could be tested if Grubauer should be sidelined. For now, it seems he’ll stick with his current goalies and wait for Francouz to return.