Welcome back to NHL Rumours, where we take a look at what is going on around the league each day. As the season gets underway, teams figure out where they are headed. Because of this, they look to add or subtract players as the season gets going. Today, we look at NHL Rumours from the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, and Buffalo Sabres.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman commented in 31 Thoughts that there were rumblings the Canucks may look to move defenceman Troy Stecher to help their cap issue. However, he also said Vancouver has denied this.
31 Thoughts: Enjoy! https://t.co/pgIGr1AYDz
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 16, 2019
Analysis: Just because a team denies it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Or for that matter, isn’t happening. Stecher’s ice time has decreased this season mostly due to an influx of talent. However, he still carries a $2.3 million cap hit which is a decent amount for a third pair guy on a team that is close to the cap. Ideally, the Canucks would like to keep Stecher. He is a very useful depth option that can step up if anyone goes down and gets injured.
On top of that, the Canucks likely want to ice the best team possible as they are now transitioning from rebuilding to playoff contenders. The Canucks have started the year 3-2-0 and will look to grab a spot in a relatively weak Pacific Division. Part of this comes because of the fact that they don’t have their first-round pick this season. It is protected so if something goes wrong and they miss the playoffs they will have it. However, they’d much rather give up a mid to late-round pick because they made the playoffs instead of having to go into next year with it being guaranteed they have no first-rounder.
Even though Stecher is depth on this team he is very useful depth. Unless the price is absolutely right for the Canucks it would make sense to keep him as they are now under the cap. Doing so would ensure depth and also a stable bottom pair moving forward.
Rumour: Also in 31 Thoughts, Friedman mentioned that the Habs have been looking around for left-handed defensemen. The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz notes that the Habs have been scouting the San Jose Sharks pretty heavily lately.
Interesting that Elliotte mentions that Montreal is keeping an eye on left-shot defenders. Canadiens have been scouting the Sharks pretty heavily through the first part of the season, and Sharks do have a left-shot defenseman who’s from Montreal https://t.co/LmpymULXbm
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) October 16, 2019
Analysis: The Habs are another team, much like Vancouver, that is in the middle of the standings. Not bad enough to tank but also maybe not good enough to make a Cup run. It is clear that the Habs want to add to this team to try and push them over the edge. They still have Carey Price who may not be what he used to be but he can still steal games for Montreal.
Left Side Defencemen
As of right now, the Habs have Victor Mete, Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak and Mike Reilly on their left side. They also have fringe guys like Karl Alzner and Xavier Ouellet in the minors. On that list, there is Mete who looks really solid but then also a bunch of fringe guys. Chariot, Kulak, and Rielly are all decent. However, most of them aren’t more than number 4’s at best. 5 and 6 defencemen on good teams.
What the Habs are lacking is a true left-handed Dman to play in the top four. The hope is Mete becomes that but he isn’t quite there right now. So, for this season, a trade may be the answer. The question is, who? It doesn’t seem like Montreal should be trading for even more depth so it seems likely if a move is made it would be for a bigger name.
San Jose Options
If San Jose was to be an option for a lefty, the only true big name is Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Now, this doesn’t exactly make sense for either side. The Sharks are in what is very likely their final years of competing with this core. It keeps getting older and there just may not be many runs left. However, this season they still have a solid team so wanting to move on from their top lefty seems like a strange decision.
The only possible reason may be because of cap space. San Jose is right up against the cap and will be for a few years coming. Moving Vlasic’s $7 million cap hit for seven more years could be huge, especially if the return is worth it. However, this is the exact reason Montreal shouldn’t trade for him. The Habs will need cap space too and Vlasic is already in his 30’s. That deal has already started to look worse and it will no doubt be brutal in a few seasons. Keeping the long-term in mind is what the Habs should do.
The only other name that the Habs may target off of San Jose would be Brenden Dillon. Once again, it may not make sense for the Sharks to part with him.
Teams do their homework months in advance of the trade deadline. So should we. A look at some potential trade candidates later in the season:
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 17, 2019
Analysis: This may be a bit of a surprise at first as Scandella has looked very solid in this young season. However, LeBrun’s thought on it was that if Rasmus Ristolainen isn’t moved, someone will have to be. Scandella is in the final year of his contract with a $4 million cap hit and would be useful to just about any team. No doubt the Sabres could get a decent return for him come deadline time. The issue will be, where are the Sabres?
They have started the year hot and currently lead the Atlantic Division. If they are still in a playoff spot come trade deadline time management will have a tough decision to make. If the team isn’t going to be truly competing for a Stanley Cup this season it seems way more reasonable to sell off expiring pieces to help you moving forward. However, this is also a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in years and a market that deserves some playoff hockey. It will be interesting to see how the Sabres handle their expiring deals moving ahead this year.
That’s all for NHL Rumours! Tune in tomorrow for more.