NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2020

The Jets are reportedly trying to trade Dustin Byfuglien, plus the latest on the Avalanche, Blackhawks, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

JETS TRYING TO TRADE BYFUGLIEN

TSN: Frank Seravalli cites sources claiming trade talks involving Dustin Byfuglien have increased in recent days. The big defenseman has been suspended without pay by the Winnipeg Jets since the start of the season. He has yet to resume skating after undergoing ankle surgery in late-October. There’s no guarantee he’ll be traded as his return to action this season remains a long shot.

Winnipeg Jets trying to trade Dustin Byfuglien before the upcoming trade deadline (Photo via NHL Images).

Those close to Byfuglien wonders if he might be rejuvenated by reuniting with his old Chicago coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Dale Tallon with the Florida Panthers. Or perhaps the Minnesota native might consider the Wild an attractive destination. Byfuglien must be on a team’s reserved list by the Feb. 24 trade deadline to be eligible for the post-season.

Byfuglien is signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $7.6 million. He had filed a grievance against the Jets with the NHLPA, but Seravalli said that became moot once the blueliner declined to continue the on-ice portion of his rehab in January. The Jets can still terminate Byfuglien’s contract after the trade deadline if unable to move him before then.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith lists the Panthers, Wild, and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible trade destinations for Byfuglien.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is setting a high asking price for Byfuglien. He’ll want to get that cap hit off his books as soon as possible and use the savings to bolster his roster.

As Seravalli points out, if Cheveldayoff can’t find a trade partner, he can still use the cap savings from Byfuglien’s suspension before the trade deadline and terminate his contract afterward without incurring a penalty. Byfuglien was suspended for refusing to report to camp and underwent ankle surgery without consulting team doctors. That’s sufficient grounds for the Jets to terminate his contract.

The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck suggests Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Ottawa’s Vaclav Namestnikov, and Buffalo’s Conor Sheary as trade options for the Jets, but we don’t know if Cheveldayoff is targeting those players. Namestnikov and Sheary would be more affordable in terms of salary and return than Dumba and Manson. Billeck also suggested New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, but I don’t see that move happening.

LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark took note of the presence of Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin at two recent Colorado Avalanche games and the speculation linking the injury-plagued Avs to Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. Looking at what the Tampa Bay Lightning paid for Blake Coleman and the Vancouver Canucks for Tyler Toffoli, the asking price for Tatar could be costly. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said the recent rash of injuries won’t change the club’s trade-deadline plans, adding he might look for a depth goaltender.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Sakic also indicated there are certain players his club has been eyeing that would be impact players in the dressing room. He also said top prospects Bo Byram, Connor Timmins, Martin Kaut, and Alex Newhook aren’t going anywhere.

Dater believes Sakic seeks a player-for-player deal. He also suggested New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev, Chicago’s Robin Lehner, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, or Ottawa’s Craig Anderson as goalie trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin’s presence in Denver has certainly stoked speculation he and Sakic could be cooking up a deal. If Tatar is available, I’d assume Bergevin would want a good young player as part of the return.

Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Graves have been floated on the internet as trade candidates, but I don’t see Sakic weakening his defense by moving either guy. Tyson Jost also surfaced in the rumor mill, but the 21-year-old forward is seeing fourth-line duty as he struggles to play up to expectations as a former first-round (10th overall) draft pick. Sakic should have an easier time finding a decent backup goalie.

UPDATE ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report the Chicago Blackhawks have set high asking prices (first-round picks, prospects) for potential rentals like goaltender Robin Lehner and defenseman Erik Gustafsson. So far, no one’s biting. Any club interested in Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Ian Mitchell could find the asking price too overwhelming.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger suggested Gustafsson as a good fit for the Vegas Golden Knights. He believes the Blackhawks blueliner could be had for a reasonable price. That’s assuming the Hawks end up lowering their prices if their rental players haven’t moved when deadline day dawns.

NO PAGEAU FOR THE FLYERS?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall doubts the Philadelphia Flyers will be able to acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He doubts the Senators will retain any of Pageau’s salary, and their asking price (first- or second-round pick, plus a prospect) would be too expensive for a rental player.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2020

Alec Martinez is reportedly on the verge of becoming a Golden Knight, more talk of Jeff Carter returning to the Flyers, the latest on Chris Kreider, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KINGS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS WORKING ON MARTINEZ TRADE

LOS ANGELES TIMES/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie yesterday reporting the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights are close to finalizing a deal sending defenseman Alec Martinez to the Golden Knights for two second-round draft picks. The move is expected to be completed today. Martinez was held out of last night’s game against Winnipeg for precautionary reasons.

THE ATHLETIC’s Jesse Granger suspects the delay could be salary-cap related on the Golden Knights side.

**UPDATE** The trade has been completed, with Martinez heading to the Golden Knights for a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have been in the market for a top-four, right-side defenseman for some time. There was talk they were eyeing New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, but that no longer appears the case.

Martinez, 32, would bring a welcome presence on the Vegas blueline. He’s got plenty of postseason experience, winning two Stanley Cups with the Kings. He’s also signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $4-million annual average value. The Golden Knights could shift Shea Theodore to the left side and pair him with Martinez.

MORE “CARTER-TO-FLYERS” CHATTER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman thinks the Philadelphia Flyers could consider bringing back Jeff Carter, depending on the health of young center Nolan Patrick.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall points out how difficult it would be for the Flyers to pull that off. They have just over $2 million in salary-cap space, meaning there’s not enough to acquire Carter even if the Kings absorbed half of his $5.2-million AAV. They would have to do some cap juggling for the remaining two years of his contract. There’s also the question of what the Kings would want in return, and what assets the Flyers can spare.

More talk of the Philadelphia Flyers bringing back Jeff Carter (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stranger things have happened, and it would make a nice story for Carter to return to the city where his NHL career began. Given the cap difficulties, however, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could be forced to seek more affordable alternatives.

UPDATE ON KREIDER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues could be interested in New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider. The Washington Capitals could be a stealth candidate, but their recent acquisition of defenseman Brenden Dillon probably takes them out of the bidding.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Avalanche and Bruins are the front-runners for Kreider. He also lists the Blues, Capitals, and Florida Panthers among others who could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues’ acquisition of defenseman Marco Scandella could be the only move they make at the deadline. Sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko is recovering well from early-season shoulder surgery and could return before the end of the season. Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater believes the Avs could target Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar if they fail to land Kreider.

THE LATEST ON TROCHECK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck is garnering attention. The 26-year-old has two year left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million. Friedman feels most teams can afford that, though he won’t be inexpensive.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t believe the Panthers are shopping Trocheck but acknowledged teams are calling about him. The Panthers desperately need a top-four defenseman, so they have little choice but to listen to offers. He wonders if they might have an interest in Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, but gets the sense Wild GM Bill Guerin wants to retain Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Dale Tallon will want a defenseman for Trocheck. Failing that, he might have to get creative. LeBrun suggested dealing the center for picks and prospects that could be flogged to another club for a top-four blueliner.

IS LEHNER AVAILABLE?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if a lack of progress in contract talks is affecting Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner, who was unusually quiet during a recent game. The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly interested in Lehner and have an extra first-round pick to dangle as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes fading, GM Stan Bowman could listen to offers for Lehner if he remains unsigned by the deadline. We’ll see what happens.

COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds remains a player of interest for the Vancouver Canucks. Their recent acquisition of Tyler Toffoli was related to filling the gap left by the sidelined Brock Boeser. They still haven’t found a suitable replacement for Micheal Ferland, who’s out for the season due to concussion symptoms. Simmonds has an eight-team no-trade list, but the Canucks aren’t believed to be on it.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also thinks the Canucks could consider adding Simmonds, but that could be difficult to do without a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Canucks will still add toughness if they can’t land Simmonds. They could be faced with considering more affordable options. Vancouver GM Jim Benning surprised us with his acquisition of Toffoli, so he could have another trick up his sleeve before the deadline.

ATHANASIOU’S VALUE COULD RISE

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports injuries to contending teams could bolster the trade value of Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou. The Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks could be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager (and former Red Wings GM) Ken Holland might be interested in Athanasiou. However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Oilers’ injuries and winger Zack Kassian’s seven-game suspension is creating problems for how Holland will approach the deadline. While he’d love a third-line center like Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau for a right-winger for Connor McDavid’s line, he’s not prepared to part with a first-round pick and a top prospect for a rental player. Many of those injured Oilers aren’t on long-term injury reserve, giving Holland limited cap space.

The Canucks’ acquisition of Tyler Toffoli likely rules them out for Athanasiou. He could be a fall-back choice if the Avs lose out in the bidding for Kreider.

WILL KOVALCHUK STAY OR GO?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates the Montreal Canadiens could likely trade winger Ilya Kovalchuk if an agreement on a contract extension can’t be reached before the trade deadline. He suggests the Avalanche and Bruins as possible destinations.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 9, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 9, 2020

Are the Canadiens shopping Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry? Should the Islanders attempt to acquire Kyle Palmieri from the Devils? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Kings? Find out in this Sunday’s NHL rumor roundup.

CANADIENS NOT SHOPPING TATAR AND PETRY

TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie dismissed recent trade speculation regarding Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry. He claimed the Montreal Canadiens won’t move either player unless they get golden offers, which he doesn’t believe they will. Lavoie also doesn’t expect Habs general manager Marc Bergevin will be busy at the trade deadline, as he’s looking toward winning next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar and Petry are also signed beyond this season, so Bergevin isn’t under pressure to trade them now. If the Habs keep clawing their way back into the playoff chase, the less likely Bergevin will be a seller by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

SHOULD THE ISLANDERS PURSUE PALMIERI?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders what it would cost the New York Islanders to acquire winger Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils. “Oliver Wahlstrom? Well, maybe the Devils would like to toss Blake Coleman into the mix, then. The Islanders could add Josh Ho-Sang.” He also wondered if Devils interim GM Tom Fitzgerald would move Palmieri or Coleman by the Feb. 24 trade deadline before contract extension talks starting July 1.

How much would it cost the New York Islanders to acquire Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils? (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Canadiens with Tatar and Petry, the Devils aren’t facing pressure to move Palmieri or Coleman before the trade deadline. Unless those two want out, management can wait and see how things unfold in contract discussions this summer. It would also be wise to determine if Fitzgerald stays on as GM or someone else takes over before deciding the fates of Palmieri and Coleman.

LEAFS TO WAIT FOR HEALTH UPDATES ON RIELLY AND CECI

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s a lot of talk suggesting the Toronto Maple Leafs could go out and get another defenseman because injured blueliners Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci could be sidelined for a long time. However, the Leafs intend to wait for the health reports on the two rearguards. They’ll know more within the next couple of weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Rielly and Ceci are sidelined until the playoffs, the Leafs can place both on long-term injured reserve and use the savings to bolster their blueline. Because there’s no salary cap in the playoffs, the Leafs wouldn’t have to shed salary to make room for those injured d-men when they are ready to return.

LATEST KINGS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights are among the teams interested in Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. He also said the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames have been linked to Kings winger Tyler Toffoli.

UPDATES ON KREIDER AND PAGEAU

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports contract talks are set to begin this week between the New York Rangers and Chris Kreider. It doesn’t sound as though there have been any contract discussions of late between the Ottawa Senators and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 8, 2020

Are the Avalanche pursuing Jets winger Kyle Connor? Could the Leafs use a loophole to free up salary-cap space for the trade deadline? What’s the latest on Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Ilya Kovalchuk? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE THE AVALANCHE INTERESTED IN KYLE CONNOR?

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre cites a “well-connected source” claiming teams are calling the Jets about winger Kyle Connor. The Jets need a top-tier defenseman, and McIntyre notes it takes talent to land talent. He said Colorado Avalanche prospect defenseman Bo Byram is the main name linked to Connor, along with a couple other small pieces. The Avs already have a potential franchise blueliner in Cale Makar, and their window of opportunity to win the Cup is wide open.

Could the Winnipeg Jets move Kyle Connor for a top-two defenseman? (Photo via NHL Images)

McIntyre doubts the Jets will move Connor, who leads them with 25 goals on the season. he also doesn’t think they’re actively shopping the 23-year-old winger. Still, he suggests trading “a highly coveted asset for a major piece to help in the present might make some sense.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I supposed the Avalanche could have interest in Connor. Heck, who wouldn’t? However, they’ve already got a top-line left winger in Gabriel Landeskog, while Valeri Nichushkin is showing promise in the second-line role. They’ve also been linked to guys like Chris Kreider and Tyler Toffoli, who would be more affordable acquisitions than Connor. Most of the trade chatter regarding the Avs of late concerns their goaltending.

Byram is a promising young defenseman who could one day blossom into a top-pairing player, but he’s yet to play a single NHL game. He’s not the top-two rearguard the Jets desperately need right away. Unless the Avs are offering up Makar (and they aren’t), or Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has decided to start rebuilding rather than push for a playoff spot, I don’t see Connor heading to Colorado – or anywhere else – anytime soon.

COULD A LOOPHOLE PROVIDE CAP RELIEF FOR THE LEAFS?

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports on the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs using the “Patrick Kane loophole” to free up around $9 million in salary-cap space at the trade deadline. He took note of recent comments by Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas suggesting any trade-deadline activity on his part could depend upon how long defenseman Morgan Rielly remains sidelined with a broken foot.

If Rielly, Cody Ceci, and Ilya Mikheyev remain on long-term injured reserve for the rest of the regular season. the Leafs can use the savings to acquire players at the trade deadline. The trio could return for the playoffs without the Leafs shedding salary because there’s no salary cap in the postseason.

It would be similar to what the Chicago Blackhawks did in 2015 with winger Patrick Kane. With Kane placed on LTIR from mid-February to the end of the regular-season schedule, they used the cap savings to Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette, who helped the Hawks win the Stanley Cup later that spring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s nothing in the CBA that prevents teams from employing this tactic. If a player has suffered an injury serious enough to sideline them until the playoffs, a team is allowed to place him on LTIR and use the cap savings to their advantage before the trade deadline.

The Leafs aren’t the only club that can go this route. The St. Louis Blues, for example, currently have winger Vladimir Taranseko (shoulder surgery) on LTIR. He’s not expected to return until the playoffs, ensuring they’ll have over $5 million in deadline cap space to bolster their roster if they choose.

LATEST ON THORTON AND MARLEAU

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt recently cited NBC Sports hockey analyst Keith Jones weighing in on possible moves by the San Jose Sharks. He believes there’s a likelihood Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau get traded soon, suggesting Tampa Bay as a good destination for Thornton. He also felt Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon will be on the move before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, with the Leafs and Florida Panthers as potential suitors.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently suggested the Lightning, Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins as potential landing spots for Thornton. He felt the Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, and Washington Capitals could use Marleau’s services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton’s no-movement clause makes him the most difficult to move, though he’d probably draw more interest. I think GM Doug Wilson will leave it up to Thornton and Marleau to decide if they’re willing to move to a contender for the remainder of the season.

UPDATES ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers have varying degrees of interest in Montreal Canadiens winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Engels also speculates the Florida Panthers could come calling if they swap winger Mike Hoffman for a defenseman. He believes the Canadiens won’t accept less than a second-round pick or a conditional third that could turn into a second-rounder.

Engels also weighs in on recent trade speculation regarding Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. The two sides haven’t talked contract in a while, but that doesn’t mean discussions won’t resume soon. Domi’s versatility and willingness to stay in Montreal could give him leverage.

Rumors linked the Flames, Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins to Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. While Engels believes the Penguins have the assets and the biggest incentive to land the 28-year-old Tatar, it’ll take a lot to pry him away from the Canadiens.

The Carolina Hurricanes have scouted the Habs. They need blueline depth and could have Brett Kulak or Marco Scandella in their sights.

Engels also thinks the New York Islanders could have interest in Canadiens fourth-line center Nate Thompson, while Winnipeg could be a destination for Dale Weise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon where the Canadiens are in the standings as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches. If they haven’t gained ground, Kovalchuk, Thompson, Weise, Scandella, and Kulak could hit the trade block.

Despite some uncertainty over Domi’s contract situation, I don’t see him going anywhere at the deadline. The same goes for Tatar, who’s thriving in Montreal and loves playing there. He’s signed through next season, so there’s no urgency to peddle him now.

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS AND LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently speculated the New York Islanders could use their trade deadline salary-cap space (over $16 million) to take on a bad contract from a rival club to pick up an extra asset before deadline day. The Leafs, Golden Knights, Coyotes, and Blues could be cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary to make other moves.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith wonders if recent injuries to defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta push the Tampa Bay Lightning into the trade market. That could depend upon how long those two are sidelined. They could attempt to resolve the issue internally.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2020

Are more moves in store for the Kings? Could Jack Eichel want out of Buffalo if the Sabres miss the playoffs? Are the Oilers and Penguins interested in Tomas Tatar? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE KINGS?

THE ATHLETIC: Prior to the Kings shipping Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford last night to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Lisa Dillman and Josh Cooper looked at possible moves that could be in store for the rebuilding club before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Dillman suggested the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, and St. Louis Blues as potential destinations for winger Tyler Toffoli. Possible landing spots for defenseman Alec Martinez included the Leafs and Nashville Predators.

Cooper, meanwhile, noted the trade speculation swirling around Kings’ starting goaltender Jonathan Quick this season. While there’s debate around the league over Quick’s trade value, Cooper feels he’s still important to the Kings, especially their plans for the Seattle expansion draft in 2021.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Kings coach Todd McLellan lobbied for Toffoli to be re-signed, but it’s more likely the winger will be moved by the trade deadline. Friedman also mentioned the Bruins and Flames as possible suitors and feels the Philadelphia Flyers considered the idea. He thinks the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights could have interest in Martinez.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall analyzed the Flyers case for pursuing Toffoli. While the winger would provide a boost to their roster, they’d have difficulty taking on his $4.6 million salary-cap hit. It could mean giving up a decent roster player to make cap room for a player who could depart via free agency in July. Hall isn’t sure if that’s a risk they want to take.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Toffoli and Martinez to be playing elsewhere before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The Leafs’ acquisitions of Campbell and Clifford probably takes them out of the running for Martinez. The Flyers may have discussed Toffoli, but I don’t think they’re keen to move out anyone to make room for a rental player.

The Flames’ trade priorities could shift away from a top-six winger if defenseman Mark Giordano is out long-term. The Predators could move from buyers to sellers if they fail to gain ground in the standings.

I think the Bruins consider Toffoli as their fall-back if they don’t land the Rangers’ Chris Kreider. The Panthers and Golden Knights are believed in the market for a top-four defenseman. Their respective limited cap space, however, means they’ll have to do a dollar-for-dollar swap.

As for Quick, his injury history, declining play, and a hefty contract should keep him with the Kings for at least one more season, after which they could leave him unprotected in the expansion draft.

COULD EICHEL WANT OUT OF BUFFALO?

Could Jack Eichel want out of Buffalo if the Sabres fail to improve? (Photo via NHL Images)

TSN (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Insider Darren Dreger joined the Overdrive panel yesterday, where they discussed the possibility of the Buffalo Sabres missing the playoffs again and the potential effect upon Jack Eichel. They discussed whether it could push the Sabres captain to publicly demand a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Eichel is committed to turning the Sabres into a playoff club. He’s a superstar in his own right and among this season’s top-10 scorers. He’s doing everything he can to carry this club into the postseason. Sadly, ownership seems disinterested while general manager Jason Botterill isn’t having much success improving the roster.

I don’t think Eichel’s reached the stage where he’s had enough, but the constant losing is going to take its toll. He’s in the second year of an eight-year contract, but if things don’t improve over the next couple of years, I can see him questioning his future with the Sabres.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins could have interest in Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. However, the Canadiens feel injuries derailed their season and hope to be competitive in 2020-21. It could take a significant offer to pry Tatar away from Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar has one season remaining on his contract, so the Habs aren’t in any rush to move him. They’ll consider it if they get a really good pitch, but they can also wait until the summer for the right offer.

Friedman claims several teams would be shocked if the Anaheim Ducks move Josh Manson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks’ blueline depth combined with their need for young scoring forwards is behind the Manson speculation. He’s in the second year of a four-year contract with a 12-team no-trade list. While they could move Manson if someone offered up a terrific young forward, I don’t think they’re shopping him.

Nashville Predators GM David Poile is willing to consider just about anything on the trade front, with obvious exceptions. He’s not looking to upgrade his goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Obvious exceptions (to me, anyway) include Pekka Rinne, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm.

Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman could be a fall-back for the St. Louis Blues if they fail to acquire New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers seek a top-four defenseman and could use Hoffman as trade bait to address that issue. I don’t think the Blues want to part with any of their top-four d-men.

Some teams have inquired about Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. While the pending UFA’s future remains uncertain, he’s a big part of the Bruins roster this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, the Bruins are all-in this season. Krug’s not going anywhere.

Friedman said the New Jersey Devils are willing to consider hockey trades as well as moving out playoff rentals. Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson has yet to return from injury. Friedman wondered if the Dallas Stars could be in the market for a playmaking forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson’s contract status (pending RFA with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from UFA eligibility) explains why he’s popping up in recent trade chatter. However, they’re under no pressure to trade him before the deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 30, 2020

The Leafs linked to the Wild’s Matt Dumba, plus updates on the Rangers, Jets, and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS LOOKING AT DUMBA

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs have looked into Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. He believes the club’s fortunes in the coming weeks will determine if they pursue a right-handed blueliner or test the trade market on their pending unrestricted free agents. Friedman cites one league executive saying the Leafs are investigating every good defenseman on the market.

Would Matt Dumba be a good fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs reportedly aren’t interested in acquiring a rental player. As Friedman points out, Dumba has three years remaining on his contract. He’s the type of rearguard the Leafs would want, but finding room for his $6-million salary-cap hit would be difficult. I don’t believe the Wild would pick up part of his annual average value if they were to shop Dumba.

RANGERS’ POTENTIAL TRADE CANDIDATES

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reviewed several possible Rangers’ trade candidates, what they could fetch on the market, and the clubs that could pursue them.

Winger Chris Kreider could fetch a first-round pick and perhaps more. Boston, Colorado, Arizona, and Vegas could be in the mix.

The Maple Leafs make sense for pending restricted free agent goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, but Cyrgalis wonders what return would make sense for the Rangers. Colorado, San Jose, and Florida could use depth between the pipes.

Defenseman Tony DeAngelo is a pending RFA with arbitration rights. While he has defensive deficiencies, his puck-moving skills would draw attention in the trade market. Cyrgalis suggests Toronto (perhaps packaged with Georgiev?), Winnipeg or Carolina as trade partners.

Pending UFA winger Jesper Fast would be a solid bottom-six addition for Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, St. Louis or Dallas. Versatile RFA forward Ryan Strome might be a fit with Vancouver, Calgary or Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out soon enough how many of his pending free agents Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton intends to trade. Georgiev and DeAngelo might be enticing for the Leafs, but the asking price for that package could include a young, affordable forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford indicated he’s open to acquiring a top-six winger. I don’t see Fast as a fit in Pittsburgh.

BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE JETS

THE ATHLETIC: With the Winnipeg Jets reportedly in the market for a top-four defenseman, Ken Wiebe wondered if they might revisit their earlier interest in Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen. He also listed Ristolainen’s teammate Colin Miller, Los Angeles’ Alec Martinez, Ottawa’s Dylan DeMelo, and New Jersey’s Damon Severson.

Wiebe suggested Jets forward Jack Roslovic might make the most sense as a trade chip. He also pointed out Dustin Byfuglien’s situation could have salary-cap implications. If he returns to the lineup before the end of this season, they’ll have to ensure they’ve got sufficient room for his $7.6-million annual average salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck believes adding a top-four defenseman would prove too costly, forcing them to give up a top-six forward or a first-round pick and one of their top prospects. “Teams want talent for talent. They want Nikolaj Ehlers, not Luca Sbisa. Kyle Connor, not Nick Shore,” he said. Billeck feels there’s not much to work with in this season’s trade market. He suggests looking to the future by dipping into this summer’s UFA market.

I agree with Billeck. Don’t sacrifice the future for a quick fix. I’m not saying they shouldn’t look at picking up a depth player or two, but not at the cost of a good player, high draft picks or quality prospects.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens aren’t interested in acquiring rental players. He suspects they won’t do much at the trade deadline. With an eye on reaching the playoffs in 2021, they don’t want to part with players who can help them next year like Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan also believes the Canadiens shouldn’t move Tatar. The 29-year-old winger is a consistent 20-goal scorer who has a year remaining on his contract. Considering how difficult it is for the Habs to attract UFA talent, Cowan feels they should keep a player like Tatar, who loves playing in Montreal. You can probably make the same case for the underrated Petry. Unless the Canadiens get mind-blowing offers for either guy, they’re better off retaining them.