The NHL trade deadline is inching closer and closer, and with that, the trade talk is heating up. We take a look at some of the latest NHL rumours and analyze what they mean going forward. Today we look into the latest on New York Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh, Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Jack Johnson, and Edmonton Oilers forward Patrick Maroon
Ryan McDonagh, Jack Johnson and Patrick Maroon in Today’s NHL Rumour Mill
Rumour: Larry Brooks of The New York Post reports that the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have shown interest in Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh. However, neither team has put a legitimate offer on the table yet. Brooks states that acquiring McDonagh could be the difference between the two teams as we come to the end of the season.
Analysis: The Rangers captain remains a top-pair defenseman. He has this season, plus one more remaining on a contract with a $4.7 million cap hit. This is a bargain price for a player of his ability. The Rangers will be asking for a lot for McDonagh. The Bruins and the Lightning have powerful teams, who have dominated the NHL this year. It could be time to make a push towards winning a Stanley Cup. The Lightning’s biggest need is clearly on the blue line, while the Bruins could also use a player like McDonagh. The race for the Atlantic is on.
Rumour: Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports that Ryan Murray is nearing a return to health and reclaiming his spot in the Blue Jackets line-up. His return and the health of the Columbus defence corps means that Jack Johnson is an expendable piece in Columbus. Portzline adds that the Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are all in the market for a defenceman. Portzline believes the market on Johnson is a late first round pick, but wonders if the Blue Jackets should flip him for a defenceman instead.
Analysis: A first-round pick seems a steep price to pay for Johnson. He has fallen to the third pair in Columbus and is on an expiring contract. A second-round pick and b-level prospect might be a more realistic return here. Portzline is correct that the Blue Jackets need a forward boost, and one of the playoff teams that could move a forward for a defenceman is the Toronto Maple Leafs who could make something work around Johnson plus-an asset for Tyler Bozak, or Josh Leivo plus an asset for Johnson. Even if a deal can’t be worked out with Toronto, the Blue Jackets could trade Johnson for picks/prospects. They can flip those future assets to a third team to acquire a rental forward in another move.
We can probably take the Kings out of the running due to the Dion Phaneuf trade. In fairness, Portzline’s rumour came out before that trade was finalized.
Rumour: Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Lightning could have interest in Oilers forward Patrick Maroon. Smith notes that Lightning coach Jon Cooper and Maroon have history together from their time in the NAHL. He also notes that the Lightning are also interested in Jack Johnson.
Analysis: While many would see the Lightning forward group as one of the deepest and most complete in the NHL, Maroon offers a skill set that is lacking. While not a speedster, he is quick enough to keep up with Connor McDavid in Edmonton and has the hands to finish around the net. However, his physical presence, forechecking, grit and toughness would add another dimension to the Lightning attack.
Main Photo: COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 7: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)