Rumours isn’t just a classic Fleetwood Mac album. It’s what serves as oxygen for hockey fans at this time of year with the NHL Trade Deadline mere days away.
With teams scrambling to piece together deals before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline, all the speculation, hearsay, gossip, tittle-tattle and dare we say scuttlebutt is heating up.
Here are the latest notes from around the NHL ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
Action heating up on McDonagh
The New York Rangers are expected to move pending unrestricted free agent Rick Nash after Michael Grabner was dealt—they were both scratched for precautionary reasons Thursday—but defenceman Ryan McDonagh’s name is also circulating.
The 28-year-old American is signed through the 2018-19 campaign at a favourable cap hit of $4.7 million. He also has a modified, 10-team no-trade clause that could get in the way of a deal.
Hockey insider and former NHL general manager Brian Lawton tweeted Thursday that “McDonagh is much closer to being moved then anyone realizes.”
Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote earlier this week the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are among the group of interested teams that could also include the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Food for thought: a move to the Lightning would reunite him with his longtime Rangers mate Dan Girardi, however Tampa GM Steve Yzerman will be very selective when considering offers.
“At the trade deadline, when you’re trying to acquire players, usually teams that are selling are looking for younger players, draft picks and prospects,” Yzerman told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. “At this stage, the young players on our team, we want to keep on our team and we want to add to that. We’re trying to keep this team together with the hope of improving it.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs are also reportedly interested in McDonagh—and they’ve got an extra 2018 second-round draft pick to sweeten the pot—but would the Leafs sacrifice a burgeoning talent to acquire a veteran?
“I think the Leafs will knock on the door for Mike Green more than anybody else,” Nick Kypreos told Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup. “We know McDonagh has more term, right? He’s got another year so he’s going to be more expensive. [Acquiring] McDonagh would force the Rangers to ask for a [Kasperi] Kapanen. They want a grade-A type of prospect, which Kapanen still is in theory.
“I can’t see the Leafs doing anything like that and while they might give up a first- or a second-round [pick] for Mike Green with the chance of adding some depth to win a round or two to get to a conference final, that I can see.”
Could Pacioretty be dealt at the deadline?
“He stays. I can’t see him being traded,” Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports told The Jeff Blair Show. “If there is a trade involving a young centreman that’s got a bright future in front of him, yes it will happen. But I don’t understand why a team would trade a young centreman with a bright future to the Montreal Canadiens right now for Max Pacioretty. Maybe in the summer, but not now. I’ll be shocked if it happens. If it happens, good for the Montreal Canadiens honestly and good for the [acquiring] team that’s going to bring in Max Pacioretty for two playoffs. But what I’ve been told is it’s not going to happen. But, you never know. Between today and Monday, tons of things can happen.”
Several suitors for Kane out West
While it remains unclear if and when Pacioretty will move, it seems like a forgone conclusion that Evander Kane’s time with the Buffalo Sabres is winding down.
“Yes, he’s going to be traded,” Lavoie said. “Yes, he’s the type of player that could really easily play with a team like St. Louis. No doubt about that. Maybe the L.A. Kings too when you look at it. Maybe the Calgary Flames when you look at it. There are a lot of teams. It’s just a question of what you’re going to give in return, first of all, but even more than that in Evander Kane’s situation it’s all about chemistry in your room.
“I really like St. Louis with Evander Kane because of the captain. Alex Pietrangelo’s an unbelievable man and I like the people in the dressing room, so I feel like it’s a good match for a team like St. Louis to be honest. I should say the exact same thing with the L.A. Kings.
“I think there’s less distractions in St. Louis than maybe a place like L.A., and I’m sure that’s part of the equation.”
The Blues could certainly use a scoring punch right now, but they’d have to send a contract back the other way or clear some space for Kane’s $5.25-million cap hit. The Kings do have plenty of cap space and GM Rob Blake has been aggressive lately, acquiring Dion Phaneuf, Nate Thompson, Tobias Rieder and Scott Wedgewood this month alone.
Edler staying put with Canucks?
Alexander Edler has one more year remaining on his contract and it doesn’t appear the Canucks are ready to move on just yet.
Doug MacLean told Sportsnet 650 he thinks the Canucks could still be “active with secondary type players” though. Teams have expressed interest in Chris Tanev, but it would take a decent offer to pry the blueliner away from Jim Benning.
“If you’re going to move a Tanev type, he’s a player lots of teams would like to have and would command a high price. But don’t you want Tanev on your team? I wouldn’t move him,” MacLean added.
Vegas eyeing help on the blue line?
Heading into the season, everyone imagined the expansion Vegas Golden Knights would be sellers at this point in the season, dealing players like James Neal, David Perron and other pending UFAs to continue stocking their franchise’s shelves with picks and prospects. However, four days out from the trade deadline, the Golden Knights are in first place and have positioned themselves to potentially add a piece and take a run at the Stanley Cup.
It might be tough ask to add a forward and risk messing with the incredible chemistry this team has up front, but adding an offensive-minded defenceman?
“I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do at the deadline. They’re going to try to find a [Mike] Green-type of defenceman with the Red Wings,” Lavoie surmised. “Is he the type of defenceman that they would like to have? I feel, in a way, yes because they need to get more skills at the blue line. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to overpay for that, and they really like the chemistry in the room, but at the end of the day I do feel like they need a better puck-moving type of defenceman.”