NHL Rumor Roundup: Ryan McDonagh, Dion Phaneuf, and Matt Cullen Coming Home

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Matt Cullen
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 1: Pittsburgh Penguins Center Matt Cullen (7) skates during the overtime period. The Washington Capitals won 3-2 in overtime of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 1, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s time for Thursday’s batch of NHL trade rumors as we speed towards the February 26 deadline. We take a look at each rumor and give analysis on it. Today we look at the Tampa Bay Lightning gauging interest after New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The Los Angeles Kings asking about Ottawa Senators blueliner Dion Phaneuf and the Pittsburgh Penguins trying to bring Matt Cullen back.

Ryan McDonagh

Rumor: According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Lightning is showing significant interest in acquiring Rangers captain and defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The asking price would likely be first-rounder and a couple one of prospects. One of those would have to be elite.

Analysis: The New York Rangers will be in sell mode especially after a 6-1 drubbing by the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden. General manager Jeff Gorton is taking offers on anyone not named Henrik Lundqvist.

Tampa’s defence has been treading water since the loss of Victor Hedman and McDonagh would shore up the blueline. McDonagh could end up forming a partnership with former Ranger Anton Stralman if the trade does happen.

However, the Lightning might not have the necessary assets to pull off the move. Young players like Mikhail Sergachev and Brayden Point are off limits and New York would likely need someone close to being NHL ready. Brett Howden, Slater Koekkoek, and Jake Dotchin are a few names the Rangers would likely go after.

Dion Phaneuf

Rumor: During the TSN Insider Trading segment, the panel speculated on the Kings going after Dion Phaneuf from the Senators. General manager Pierre Dorion met with Eugene Melnyk in Barbados to go over the team’s plans.

Analysis: The Sens aren’t going into a full fire sale, but they are willing to trim some fat from their salary cap. Los Angeles would be a good landing spot for Phaneuf because he’d be a good fourth defenseman behind Drew Doughty. However, the Kings don’t want to have all of his $7 million salary.

Kings’ general manager Rob Blake won’t make the move unless the Senators eat some of Phaneuf’s salary. It was speculated that trading the often maligned defenseman is a long shot. However, the lack of defensemen on the trade block could make the 32-year-old defenseman a target at the deadline.

Matt Cullen

Rumor: In Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column, he speculated that the Pittsburgh Penguins might trade to bring Matt Cullen back from the Minnesota Wild to the Steel City as a depth centre.

Analysis: Cullen hasn’t exactly wowed coach Bruce Boudreau with his play. It would be strange for the Wild to trade a player when they’re locked in a battle for the postseason. However, the Pens have kicked the tires on a lot of centers and the answer could be Cullen. He’s familiar with the system and knows what it takes for a deep postseason run. Cullen also gives Pittsburgh flexibility down the middle and is a good locker room leader.

Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher has to be convinced that he’s got the depth to replace Cullen because centers are hard to find.

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