NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2017

Updates on Matt Duchene, Andreas Athanasiou and James van Riemsdyk in your NHL rumor mill. 

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger telling Vancouver’s TSN 1040 his Montreal sources claim the Canadiens aren’t among the suitors for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. He did suggest we take that info with a grain of salt, pointing out Habs general manager Marc Bergevin last year denied he would trade defenseman P.K. Subban, only to turn around and ship him to Nashville for Shea Weber.

But if the Canadiens current goal-scoring drought continues, Dreger said he doesn’t know how they couldn’t express some interest in Duchene. He also wonders if the Habs might target Vegas Golden Knights winger James Neal, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. 

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked if he thought the San Jose Sharks might pursue Duchene if their young forwards fail to step up as hoped. He doesn’t see it happening as such a move would mean sacrificing a major piece or two from their roster.  

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports former Avalanche star Peter Forsberg has reached out to Duchene following his remarks over the weekend suggesting the club should sit Duchene until he’s traded. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Habs would be interested in Duchene if not for the Avs’ high asking price, which includes a young, established top-four defenseman as part of the return. That’s a commodity the Canadiens don’t have to spare right now. As for Neal, a lot depends on his performance and that of the Knights over the course of this season. He also still carries an eight-team no-trade list. 

TSN: With the Detroit Red Wings locked in a contract standoff with restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou, Bob McKenzie reports several NHL teams have reached out to the Wings to see if they’re interested in trading the winger. The Wings aren’t shopping him. However, if they were to move him it would take a player of comparable age, offensive upside and skills level to tempt them. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless a rival club makes an offer too good to refuse, Athanasiou isn’t going anywhere. 

LeBrun also reports there haven’t been any serious contract discussions yet between the Toronto Maple Leafs and winger James van Riemsdyk, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. There’s talk “JvR would be willing to do an eight-year deal if it meant it was more cap friendly for the Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have just under $49 million invested in 15 players for 2018-19. While they have plenty of room to re-sign van Riemsdyk, they must ensure sufficient cap room to re-sign Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner to the expensive new contracts they’re certain to get over the next two years.

JvR also turns 29 next May and an eight-year deal seems far too long at this stage in his career. Yes, he’ll likely remain productive in the first four years of that contract but his output will likely decline over the final four seasons, tying up valuable cap space necessary to retain younger talent. Unless he gets hurt or the Leafs can somehow pawn off half his salary to another club, I don’t see him getting an eight-year deal from Toronto.