Another day, another Last Word on Hockey article covering your latest NHL Rumours. Every day, our team breaks down a selection of the latest rumblings from around the National Hockey League. As the trade deadline draws nearer, teams begin to turn their eyes to more specific targets in preparation for this season and next. Today, we’ll look at NHL Rumours from the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Eric Engels mentions that the Montreal Canadiens could have options to trade if they go that route. He believes Tomas Tatar would be at the top of the list if the Habs can’t fight their way back into the playoff race soon.
Analysis: The Canadiens have really let their playoff spot slip from themselves. They currently sit sixth in the Atlantic and are a full nine points out of a playoff spot. Their loss last night meant that they have now lost eight in a row. Injuries have played a part in this. Since Jonathan Drouin has been out this team has sunk. However, Brendan Gallagher and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are two more names who have missed time, among others. The issue is playoff teams need to be able to find wins even when their top players are out. If they can’t, it may be time to think about re-tooling.
Tatar is the ideal piece to move if you’re Montreal. He brought in a first, second, and third-round pick at the deadline a few years ago in what may be described as a panic deal by George MacPhee. However, the Habs then acquired him as a throw-in for the Max Pacioretty deal. This move worked out in spades for them as Tatar almost immediately became the top-six player he once was. Tatar has 96 points in 125 games for the Habs.
Tatar comes at a price tag of 4.8 million for one more year after this one. But for that kind of production, that is a fair price. If the Habs are willing to retain some money it may even open the doors for even more buyers. A playoff team or a team on the bubble may be willing to give up assets for Tatar. The price may even increase due to him not being a strict rental. Look for the Habs to be a popular name in NHL Rumours.
Detroit Red Wings
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman mentions in 31 Thoughts that the Detroit Red Wings want to add a few more picks or prospects, however, most of their key trade chips may have decreased their value this season so it could be harder than originally thought.
Analysis: The Red Wings are brutal. There is no beating around that fact. They are on pace to have one of the worst seasons in the cap era and that can’t be a good feeling. The upside is that they are getting close to guaranteeing themselves a top-four pick in this year’s draft. The downside is that the value of the players on their team currently has decreased significantly. Jimmy Howard, Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley are all expiring contracts that could be moved. Now, not all of them would be, however, most of those names have hurt their stock this year. Even if it wasn’t going to be a King’s ransom, it may not even be what was planned.
Overall, Detroit should still focus on getting what they can back. Athanasiou is one of the only players that they should hold onto in the expiring group just listed if they can’t get fair value. He is only 25 and isn’t a bad player, he just may not be a fit long-term. However, all the other names are above 30 and getting whatever they can for them could be a good move for Detroit. Picks and prospects are the best way to accelerate a rebuild. The more you have, the more chance you have to hit on an elite player somewhere in the draft. Look for Detroit to try and showcase some of the players that may be available to boost their stock again.
New York Rangers
Rumour: Bob McKenzie on TSN’s Insider Trading said that the New York Rangers are getting calls on Lias Andersson and will move him before the deadline for the right return. They are looking for a prospect more than picks.
Analysis: The Rangers and Andersson didn’t seem to have a fit. Andersson wasn’t given the best shot but also didn’t play well in the opportunity he got. A fresh start may be what is needed. The question is, what kind of prospect are the Rangers looking for? Could a Jesse Puljujarvi swap make sense? The Edmonton Oilers have been holding onto him all year. Another name is Julius Honka, although he isn’t much of a prospect anymore. Those are both players that can’t play this year but do have some value.
The Rangers will not get full value for the former seventh overall pick. Teams will never help another team out when a prospect refuses to play. However, the best option may be to swap with another disgruntled prospect on a different team. See if the change can help both players and hope to hit with what you think is the better player.
Andersson’s NHL numbers have been very bad so far. So, why would any other team take a chance? He is only 21-years-old and with some more development, he may be able to show the flashes of skill he showed in Junior. He doesn’t need to be rushed right into the NHL to be effective down the line. Andersson may also not be a top-line player like expected when he was drafted, but that can be OK. If a team thinks they can turn him into a scoring depth-winger it feels like they should absolutely go for it. His value will never be cheaper.
That’s all for NHL Rumours. Tune in tomorrow for more!