Category Archives: Trade Rumors
For hockey people, sometimes it’s very helpful when tough choices are taken away.
Perhaps that’s the case for the Maple Leafs when it comes to Rick Nash, a player they once coveted. Nobody seems quite certain where the Columbus Blue Jackets sniper will end up if he is indeed traded this week, but the Leafs are convinced that if they ever were on Nash’s short-list of teams for which he would waive his no-movement clause, they aren’t now.
So, apparently, they don’t have to be one of the teams trying to figure out just how much they should give up for a 28-year-old forward who had 59 points last year and comes with a massive contract and cap hit. They aren’t one of the teams chatting with the Jackets as we speak, although that could always change.
On the other hand, another really tricky choice could end up on Brian Burke’s platter in three days.
The Leafs, we’d all agree, need to somehow acquire a big, point-gathering centre, and neither the trade market nor free agency seems to have offered one up. That leaves the draft, and what will the Leafs do if it comes to their pick at No. 5 and Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts is sitting there, still available?
Of all of the uncertainties that are bound to spill out of the National Hockey League draft in Pittsburgh this weekend, there are a couple of storylines that might have a little more solidity.
One, if Rick Nash finally is traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets, it’s unlikely that it will be to the Maple Leafs.
The Leafs are thought to be in the thick of the Roberto Luongo race, and if so, good for them. Goaltending is where it starts, and starting next season with James Reimer and Ben Scrivens would be selling themselves short. A duel involving the two for the starter’s role might make for a juicy story during training camp, but the Leafs need experience in net. Luongo would provide that, and, if he could prove that last season with Vancouver was a blip, it would allow either Reimer or Scrivens to develop at a pace that doesn’t feel rushed.
For all of the names that have been connected to the Leafs in various rumours, whether it has been Nash or Luongo or Jordan Staal or just about any other skilled player who is on the market, it will be difficult for Burke to acquire more than one.
Burke simply does not have the assets at his disposal to complete a couple of significant trades.
“I call it the secondary trade market, but it’s fairly significant. So my objective will probably be to wait unless something falls in my lap.”
That willingness to wait until the “secondary trade market” gives with what Chiarelli told CSNNE.com in an interview last week: the B’s general manager is looking for a “Mark Recchi-type” winger that can bring a veteran presence and some interior toughness to his current forward group.
“If we’re going to add somebody I would rather add a piece like a Mark Recchi. Those guys are hard to come by,” said Chiarelli. “They wouldn’t be exactly like Rex, but those kinds of guys are out there via trade or free agency.
“We have guys that are growing into that [kind of leader], but he’s a Hall of Fame player. We talked about the quality of chances and getting into those scoring areas [that was lacking during the playoffs] and he’s a guy that epitomized that. He gets to those areas and other guys will follow that. Our guys will do it and they’ll have learned from that [Washington] series that it’s required. But that’s something you miss when Rex isn’t around.”
The big names potentially available via trade or free agency and interesting the B’s would be in the Shane Doan, Ray Whitney, Ryan Smyth, Jarome Iginla and Steve Sullivan range.
But there are other names like Mike Knuble and Dustin Penner that could always be big-bodied possibilities. Free agent price tag and potential chemistry with the rest of the Bruins will be considerable factors for whatever forward ends up joining the Bruins group.
Luke Schenn, Toronto
The Maple Leafs love the depth they have on the blue line, and though others might not think it’s that great, Schenn is a guy who would have the best chance of being on the move if Brian Burke can pull off a trade. Schenn has been involved in speculation for months, and wouldn’t be the least surprised if he is traded. Including Schenn in a trade would be a lot easier for Burke to swallow than, say, using Jake Gardiner as a piece of a deal. Toronto is ready to promote Korbinian Holzer to the NHL next season, and there will not be room for everyone on the Leafs blue line. Schenn’s contract is fairly cap-friendly, another factor that could make him attractive.
Patrick Kane, Chicago
As much as the Blackhawks would love to see Kane get his life in order away from the rink (few NHLers are as aware of the power of pictures posted on-line as much as Kane), it’s not a stretch to wonder if the 23-year-old will figure it out. Though he is coming off the least-productive of his five NHL seasons — he had 66 points in 82 games — Kane remains one of the brightest young stars in the league, and every other team could convince itself rather easily that it can be the one to send him on the proper off-ice path. The Hawks should be assured of getting a strong young player in return if they decide to deal Kane.
The New York Post writes that for the second time in four months, sources have confirmed the Rangers are engaged in a high-speed pursuit of Rick Nash.
Just as was the case during the chase leading up to the Feb. 27 trade deadline, general manager Glen Sather remains unconcerned about the cap implications of the Columbus winger’s contract that runs through 2017-18 at an annual $7.8 million charge that is exceeded in the NHL by only Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Eric Staal.
Rather, the GM is more apprehensive about the Rangers’ lack of offense during the playoffs, in which the team was limited by Ottawa, Washington and New Jersey netminders to two goals or fewer in 15 of 20 games and could score as many as four only once, that in the opening game of the first round.
The question now, as it was in late February — when Columbus GM Scott Howson got greedy and demanded a combination of players including Chris Kreider; Derek Stepan or Carl Hagelin; Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto; plus Brandon Dubinsky and a first-rounder — is what the Jackets will be willing to accept and how much Sather will be willing to yield in return for the 28-year-old winger, whose numbers on the ice have never quite matched the hype attached to him.
The question within that question is how much Nash, whose average season yields 35 goals and 31 assists, has been weighed down trying to carry an inferior franchise through the entirety of a nine-year NHL career in which his team has made the playoffs once, only to be swept?
Up to a half-dozen teams — including Philadelphia, San Jose, Carolina, perhaps Toronto and perhaps Boston — are in the race, but the Rangers could end the derby in a heartbeat by agreeing to send Kreider to Columbus. There is less chance of that occurring than of Sean Avery returning to the team as an assistant coach.
The question might not be whom to select in Friday’s NHL draft, but this: To trade or not to trade?
The combination of a relatively even distribution of talent among the first-round prospects, certain needs for teams selecting at the front end and a new collective-bargaining agreement looming has the potential for some big deals this week and into the weekend, when all 30 general managers will be in Pittsburgh, ostensibly to make their teams deeper through the draft.
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said this past week he has no plans to trade the No. 1 overall pick, but he listened to offers, a new development from the past two seasons, when Edmonton did not hesitate to make Taylor Hall and then Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the top selections of 2010 and 2011.
Edmonton — like several teams, including the Islanders — has a crying need for help on defense.
So it might be more of a difference-making forward who gets dealt this week. Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash heads the list, having nearly been dealt at the trade deadline, although he still has a no-trade clause to determine where he’ll go.
The Rangers could be the biggest movers this week. Nash, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks, and defensemen Shea Weber of the Predators and Tobias Enstrom of the Jets could be targets, with the Rangers using their No. 28 pick and/or some of their deep prospect pool to swing a deal.
Under GM Garth Snow, the Islanders have refused to deal picks and/or young players for established NHLers. This year is no different, although Snow is trying hard to land a defenseman to shore up a thin mix. Only Mark Streit, Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald will be back from the team’s regular 2011-12 defense corps.
A restricted free agent such as the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban would have gotten Snow to strongly consider dealing the fourth overall pick, but new Montreal GM Marc Bergevin isn’t moving Subban, according to those who’ve spoken with him.
One player who figures to have his name whispered often leading up to Friday’s first round is Derek Roy. The center had a disappointing season and is entering the final season of his six-year contract. Roy will earn $5.5 million next season but has a manageable $4 million cap hit.
If the Sabres move Roy or another big name, it wouldn’t be the first time they used draft weekend to significantly alter the roster. Names such as Jochen Hecht, Michael Peca, Tim Connolly, Don Edwards and Tony McKegney have been part of selection meeting swaps. The biggest blockbuster came in 1990, when the Sabres acquired Dale Hawerchuk and a first-round pick from Winnipeg in exchange for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and a first-round pick.
The most recognizable star on the market this year is Columbus right wing Rick Nash. The captain wants out, and the Blue Jackets are expected to accommodate him after failing to find a suitable deal at the trade deadline. The 28-year-old has six years remaining on a deal that averages $7.8 million.
The main purpose of the draft, though, is to pick young players. Nail Yakupov is likely to be No. 1.
The 18-year-old Russian forward is ranked first by NHL Central Scouting, a position he also held at the midterm rankings. Yakupov recorded 31 goals and 69 points in 42 games with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League and added nine assists in seven games for Russia at the world junior championships.
The Leafs are expected to be near the front of the line if former Anaheim Duck first-rounder Justin Schultz becomes a free agent in a couple of weeks.
Schultz, a big defenceman with 44 points in 37 games, is leaving the University of Wisconsin a year early to play pro. But he’s thus far not signed with the Ducks, who could lose him if a deal is not reached by June 24. After that, a number of teams are in the picture, his home province Vancouver Canucks, the needy Detroit Red Wings, the Rangers, Oilers and the Leafs.
Toronto’s connection is that Burke drafted him just prior to leaving the Ducks in 2008, 43rd overall, the round after another Wisconsin defenceman Jake Gardiner. Anaheim was so anxious to get Schultz signed, it was reportedly prepared to burn a year of his entry-level contract just to play him in the final few games of the regular season. The Ducks might also work a trade for his rights before the 24th.
The world of goaltending options is closing in on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With Tomas Vokoun signed in Pittsburgh and Anders Lindback acquired by Tampa Bay, the list of available quality goalies has shrunk by two. And while there are many teams interested in inquiring about Los Angeles backup Jonathan Bernier, at this time the Kings prefer to maintain the status quo with Jonathan Quick as starter and Bernier behind him.
The pro-active trade Steve Yzerman made for Nashville’s Lindback hurts the Leafs in two different ways: 1) It removes a goalie they should have had interest in from the marketplace; 2) It provides one of their opponents in the Eastern Conference with potentially better goaltending than it has had in the past (and you know the Lightning, with Steven Stamkos, can score goals).
With Vokoun and Lindback scratched from the list of the available and the Kings’ Dean Lombardi saying “having only one quarterback is dangerous,” that leaves Roberto Luongo as their best goaltending option moving forward to this week’s NHL draft and trade meet. The good news with Luongo is it won’t cost much to get him. The bad news is it’s a long-term solution for the Leafs and if they still believe in James Reimer and, to a lesser extent, Ben Scrivens, then it isn’t an ideal situation for the development of a youngster.
While there are still run-of-the-mill free agents available such as Josh Harding, Scott Clemmensen and Chris Mason, there is nothing that would excite Maple Leafs fans here. Luongo remains the most viable option — and that’s not without its pitfalls.
Luongo to Where?
Where will Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo be playing hockey next season? Obviously he’ll need to be moved if the team wants to move forward with Cory Schneider. Tampa bay GM Steve Yzerman has denied interest but sources tell me they aren’t necessarily buying it. Many feel his quick denial is an attempt to deflate the market for the All-Star goaltender.
Multiple people tell me they don’t believe Canucks GM Mike Gillis has interest in moving Luongo to Toronto and seeing him playing on Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night. He wouldn’t want to have that thrown in his face every weekend especially if Luongo is having success. It’s much easier to hide him in a U.S. market.
We saw this years ago with Edmonton and Toronto before Chris Pronger was dealt to Anaheim. The offer then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe received from Toronto was actually better than the one he accepted from Anaheim. Lowe apparently would rather accept less than move him to the Maple Leafs where the Chris Pronger show would air every Saturday night.
We’ve seen exceptions most recently with Calgary shipping Dion Phaneuf to Toronto.
On the telephone from Montreal late Thursday afternoon, when called to discuss the Gelnias hire, Hartley might’ve unwittingly given a tipoff as to how this all might play out.
“For me,’’ he declared, “looking at Jarome, Giordano, Tanguay, Glencross, Cammalleri, Kiprusoff . . . that’s going to be the core of our team.’’
Now maybe it was nothing more than an honest omission, or the overactive imagination of a scurrilous scribbler, but one prominent name was missing from Hartley’s list. There was no mention of No. 4. Of Jay Bouwmeester. Of a guy whose logged murderous minutes since the day arrived here.
If there’s to be a Regehr scenario unfold for the Flames in Pittsburgh next week, Bouwmeester shapes up as it. Yes, his compensation is wildly out of whack (he’s owned $6.68 million for this season and next), he put up almost as many minuses (minus-21) as points (29) last year and has the standard no-trade clause, but at age 29 when (if?) the 2012-2013 regular-season kicks off, the time seems right.
That persistent Columbus rumour that made the rounds a year ago is floating out there again. Toronto’s been mentioned, too. And despite the stiff tariff, you can wager there are bound to be other suitors willing to overlook certain flaws to secure the services of a player with the motor, the effortless skating prowess, of a Bouwmeester.
The most likely destination for Nash is the New York Rangers, who, like everyone else, covet pending unrestricted free agent Zach Parise but who were told earlier this week that Parise doesn’t consider that a realistic move for him. The Rangers are still looking to get over the top after losing in the Eastern Conference finals to New Jersey, and need help up front, as it’s expected star Marian Gaborik will be sidelined five to six months following shoulder surgery.
The other likely destination is Vancouver, where the Canucks are looking to unload Roberto Luongo and figure out a way to make good on years of unfulfilled playoff promise. The San Jose Sharks will be looking to make a move, too, after losing in the first round despite making a big splash at last year’s draft by trading for defenseman Brent Burns.
Management is very serious about re-tooling the Wings after a first-round loss to Nashville, but the focus is on doing it via free agency more than via trades.
Expensive accomplished players like Patrick Kane, Nash, Jay Bouwmeester and Roberto Luongo are possibly available for trade. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise appear set to leave Nashville and New Jersey respectively as free agents. Teams are getting set to make moves lockout or no lockout ahead.
Which brings us to the Maple Leafs.
It’s an intriguing time for GM Brian Burke and his staff as they contemplate the future. The expectation among many is that Burke is plotting aggressive ways of making sure the Leafs don’t miss post-season play again next season eyeing a veteran goaltender (Luongo?) in search of quality veterans to bolster Dion Phaneuf and the leadership group in the Toronto dressing room and searching for ways to get the No. 1 pick in next week’s draft.
There’s just not enough there yet even with some promising players with the Marlies to start aggressively thinking short-term like the Kings.
The likeliest scenario then is for something in between:
• A play for Luongo that might cost one good prospect.
• A mid-range NHL free agent.
• An aggressive bid for unsigned Anaheim blueline prospect Justin Schultz.
• No deal for Nash who may have scratched Toronto from his list of preferred destinations anyway.
• No move up from No. 5 in the draft and therefore ending up with a blue-chip youngster who will be back in junior or Europe next season.
The message? Staying the course no short-term fixes or at least none involving players who can only help for one or two years. Luongo, maybe, because he’s a long-term solution in the crease.
It would be a statement that the Leafs aren’t yet in the prospect-rich position L.A. was last summer but also that they believe enough in what they have put in place — Phaneuf as captain, Phil Kessel as the centrepiece up front — that a goaltending upgrade would make everything look better.