NHL Rumour Roundup: Ottawa, Montreal remain at centre of trade chatter

Elliotte Friedman weighs in on recent comments made by Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion, essentially stating that Erik Karlsson is available to teams with serious offers.

The NHL’s 2018 trade deadline is just over a month away, with the list of notable names potentially available for the taking still growing.

With a pair of Canadian clubs sitting in the eye of the trade frenzy storm and some all-star talent possibly up for grabs, here’s a look at the latest NHL rumours.

Dorion listening to offers for his two-time Norris Trophy winner

Of all the league’s current trade possibilities, the most fascinating thread to pull at has undoubtedly been the growing tension between defender Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators‘ front office.

While the fire had died down for a time, general manager Pierre Dorion reignited the chatter on Thursday, telling NHL.com’s Chris Stevenson: “Our first priority with Erik is to sign him. He’s a special player, but Wayne Gretzky got traded, so, if a team offers you an offer you can’t turn down, you listen.”

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman weighed in on Dorion’s comments during an appearance on Sportsnet 590.

“I guess they’re just laying the groundwork for the possibility (Karlsson) could get traded. I think that’s what they’re saying,” Friedman said. “Look, I think Erik Karlsson wants to be an Ottawa Senator for the rest of his career. That’s his first choice, to me. But I think there’s a lot of players there who doubt they can win under current ownership — I think he’s one of them.

“I think his preference would be to stay under different ownership. But I think the Senators sent the word out that ‘If you really are serious, give us a call with a serious offer.'”

Karlsson far from the only Senator drawing trade interest

With Ottawa still sitting well out of a playoff spot, Dorion and the rest of the Senators brass must decide how far to go in terms of selling off their roster. And managers from around the league have been calling to see where they stand in that regard, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.

Aside from the Karlsson situation, the Senators are believed to have also received calls on Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzingel, Zack Smith, and Cody Ceci, per Garrioch. While there has been interest in plenty of names on the roster, Garrioch added that the club is reportedly listening on offers regarding Brassard, Pageau and Dzingel, specifically.

The Ottawa beat writer pointed to the Penguins, Canucks, Oilers, Jets, Sharks, Panthers, Devils, and Ducks as clubs he’s heard could be in the market to add offence prior to the 2018 deadline, while Friedman suggested the surging Boston Bruins could be among the teams looking into Hoffman.

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Deadline deal the only option for Sabres sniper Evander Kane

Arguably the second-most intriguing name amid the trade chatter thus far has been Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane, who’s potted a combined 48 goals over his past two seasons and is on pace for 30 in 2017-18.

Kane’s name has been circulating the rumour mill for a fair while, but the forward recently confirmed the fact that a deadline deal is all but certain, telling The Buffalo News‘ Mike Harrington that the Sabres haven’t offered him the opportunity to remain with the club.

From Harrington’s piece:

(Kane’s) in the final year of a six-year, $31.25 million contract he signed with the Winnipeg Jets in 2012 and confirmed to The Buffalo News this week what has been widely assumed: The Sabres have never negotiated with him on a new deal.

The former Atlanta Thrasher and Winnipeg Jet said he would have been open to negotiating a new deal with Buffalo.

“Of course I would have. Absolutely,” Kane said. “I’ve said from Day One I’ve really enjoyed the time here. For me, it’s a place where I’ve grown to know more and more about Buffalo. It’s been a real great experience for me. I’m just going to continue that until I get told something different.”

However, he acknowledged that the circumstances made an extension with Buffalo an unlikely possibility.

“This is all part of the business. Both sides,” Kane said. “We’re in different situations and I understand it all. One thing I’ve always said is that I’ve really really enjoyed my time here and will continue to do so for as long as I’m here. My focus is simply game to game, keeping the focus narrow.”

Interesting to note, longtime Penguins beat writer Josh Yohe recently reiterated Pittsburgh’s interest in Kane, though he isn’t optimistic they’ll land the Canadian sniper.

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Montreal housing two other notable trade market targets

The Montreal Canadiens‘ season hasn’t been quite as abysmal as Ottawa’s, but it’s been only marginally better, as they sit just one spot above the Sens.

That being the case, similar conversations are occurring in Montreal, where general manager Marc Bergevin is reportedly deliberating on which names to keep and which to cut loose with an eye towards the club’s future.

Elliotte Friedman discussed the state of the Canadiens and their pending improvement during an appearance on Sportsnet 960 on Friday.

“Marc Bergevin’s a pretty active guy,” he said. “He’s making calls. I think there’s a lot of action around (Max) Pacioretty. I think there’s action around (Alex) Galchenyuk. I think he’s willing to do a lot of things.”

Friedman pointed out that the Canadiens remain in dire need of help at centre, especially given how Jonathan Drouin‘s return to the middle of the ice has panned out — a thus far ill-fated gamble that cost Montreal a defensive standout in Mikhail Sergachev.

Plenty of veteran defenders still looking for new homes

NHL clubs looking to beef up their blue lines prior to the Feb. 26 deadline should have an array of choices to select from, as a number of seasoned defencemen have emerged on the market as of late.

Tops among them is Columbus Blue Jackets rearguard Jack Johnson, who’s been open about the reasoning behind his decision to request a trade from Ohio.

“It’s never good to let things fester, hold everything in,” Johnson told reporters on Wednesday. “I hope people can understand that it’s a situation where you’re just trying to do what’s best for your family — me, my wife and kids. I think any husband or father can relate to that.

“I think all my teammates understand the situation my parents put me in is not a desirable one, and it’s definitely not a good one.”

New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh could be another potential blue-line trade chip. Friedman reported as such in his recent 31 Thoughts column, discussing the potential impact of the Rangers brass’ belief (or lack thereof) in their current roster.

“There is a growing sense they just don’t see it long-term and are willing to make changes,” wrote Friedman. “That undoubtedly means the UFAs (David Desharnais, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden, Rick Nash). It also means they will listen on McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, but only if given good reason to pursue. It’s interesting. There is a growing group of sellers, but how many buyers are there?”

Friedman also mentioned Dion Phaneuf and Mike Green as potential deadline options. They join a group of blue-liners that also includes Ian Cole, who drew into plenty of rumours earlier this season, and Paul Martin, who’s been confirmed as a name the Sharks are looking to move, if possible.

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