All you need is two healthy human hands to count the days until the NHL’s trade deadline. Ten more, kids.
For today’s rumour roundup, the moribund Montreal Canadiens keep giving us gossip fodder, Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic makes a shopping list, the Vancouver Canucks‘ UFAs gain interest, and a couple thoughts on Steven Stamkos and the Winnipeg Jets.
The worst 2 types of people in offices are…
1. People who start rumours
2. People like Susan, who I think is sleeping with Rob from IT
— Ben (@0point5twins) February 19, 2016
Subban trade speculation shenanigans
Just when we were ready to move on from coach Michel Therrien’s throwing of Subban under the proverbial bus, TVA’s Louis Jean fired a tweet heard ’round the hockey world Friday morning.
The idea that Habs GM Marc Bergevin is even contemplating trading his best player who doesn’t wear goalie pads quickly sparked what-if? columns surrounding the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars — a couple of logical fits considering those clubs’ wealth of offence and need for blueline help. (Click those links if you want more — theoretical trades are often more fun than real ones — but we don’t want to spend too much time on a highly unlikely blockbuster.)
Subban sees himself as part of the solution in Quebec, not the problem. Seconded. Just because a name is brought up in conversation doesn’t mean a trade is imminent, let alone likely.
"We're very aware we have an exceptional athelete. We're happy to have him. It's our job to continue working with him."–Therrien in French
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) February 19, 2016
But Dale Weise, however…
Receiving fewer retweets is Jean’s report that Bergevin and the agent for Montreal forward Dale Weise remain distant when it comes to inking an extension, despite recent talks.
The Habs are in sell mode now, their chances of making the playoffs dropping to 5.8 per cent Friday, and several players will be in play.
Weise, 27, is an impending unrestricted free agent on a reasonable deal — $1.025 million cap hit. Good value for the 13 goals and 23 points he’s chipped in this season, his best ever.
Told no traction on Weise extension. Seems unlikely he signs at this point. Several teams interested. Can help make a push in playoffs.
— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) February 19, 2016
Joe Sakic’s shopping list
Colorado’s Sakic gave a press conference Thursday and addressed his trade deadline approach.
Fighting for a wild-card berth, the GM said he’d “for sure like to add,” but he’s unwilling to trade high draft picks or top prospects for rental players. If he does make a move, it’ll be for a player with some term left on his contract.
Like most executives, Sakic would love to find a top-four defenceman.
Rivals sniffing around the Canucks
With Vancouver’s third consecutive home loss Thursday night, this one to the soaring Ducks, the Sun‘s Iain MacIntyre asked a rival scout about interest in UFAs-in-waiting Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, potentially two top-tier rentals at their respective positions. Both hold trade protection.
Talked to a pro scout who thinks, despite depressed market, Hamhuis+Vrbata still have significant value. If they agree on trades.
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacVanSun) February 19, 2016
A premature suggestion for the Jets’ next captain
The Winnipeg Jets appear to get no leeway when it comes to treatment from officials. After Thursday night’s debacle, in which Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Anton Stralman took out Bryan Little with a borderline hit and Jets coach Paul Maurice got tossed for vehemently objecting, Tampa beat reporter Joe Smith reports that Stralman will not have a disciplinary hearing.
Bryan Little did travel with #NHLJets to Fort Lauderdale last night. No updates on his injury are expected today with team on off day
— Ted Wyman (@Ted_Wyman) February 19, 2016
One takeaway from the debacle, in my mind, was the quick action of veteran Blake Wheeler, who wasted no time attacking Stralman and sticking up for his teammate.
Wheeler is one of the NHL’s most underrated stars. He made a strong case to be named to the All-Star Game (didn’t happen) and does not shy away from media requests. (Not a chance Dustin Byfuglien wants to talk daily.) So if Andrew Ladd is indeed traded in the next few days, Wheeler’s inheritance of the captaincy should be a no-brainer.
Where will Staal end up?
With Eric Staal admitting he wouldn’t be “crushed” if he got traded, the Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch spoke with “a league insider,” who named the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers as interested teams. We’ll remind you that the Huricanes captain has a no-trade clause and carries a bulky cap hit.
A surprising note on sniper Stamkos
Nearly hopped out of bed and woke the kids last night when, watching the Lightning-Jets shootout, heard the play-by-play man note that Steven Stamkos was about to make his first shootout attempt on the season. On Feb. 18. And Stamkos wasn’t tapped until the shootout was pushed to extra rounds. He scored, and the Lightning won.
Stamkos acknowledged the loud ovation before his game-winning shootout shot, said it gave him a little something extra. #TBLightning
— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) February 19, 2016
Now, maybe Stamkos doesn’t like taking shootouts. Career-wise, he has a modest 22.9 per cent success rate. But how is it that your second-most accurate in-game sniper (14.2 shooting percentage) isn’t used in a shootout for the first four-and-half months of the season?
Patrick Kane only has one shootout attempt, too, but Chicago’s only been in one shootout. This was Tampa’s sixth. Jon Cooper’s go-to shooters: Nikita Kucherov (0 for 4), Ryan Callahan (2 for 3) and Valteri Filppula (2 for 4).