Welcome back to the Monday edition of NHL Rumours. The trade deadline approaches with each passing day and that means news is flying around regarding who might move. Last Word on Hockey will continue to bring the best analysis each day. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, and Gerard Gallant to wrap things up.
Rumour: The first of today’s NHL rumours features Nick Goss of NBC Sports as he discusses some possible trade targets for the Atlantic-leading Bruins squad.
Analysis: Boston could certainly use another secondary scoring piece. Their top line is among the best in the league but scoring drops off significantly after fifth-leading scoring Torey Krug. Adding a consistent two-way threat to the second line would boost Boston’s chances of a Stanley Cup.
The best trade target that doesn’t play in the Atlantic division is Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. The 28-year-old has been an effective scoring and checking option in 2019-20. Kreider has 16 goals and 31 points in 46 games. He has also contributed 87 hits which would rank fourth among Boston forwards this year.
Boston doesn’t have a lot of cap space but they do have enough to cover Kreider for the remainder of this season. They could also possibly decide to send someone like Danton Heinen back to New York if the Rangers hold firm on what could be a significant asking price. The Bruins don’t need a lot of help right now but adding another two-way option for the playoffs could pay off big time in the competitive Eastern Conference.
Rumour: Eric Stephens of The Athletic recently held a Q&A where he discussed several trade possibilities for the sinking Ducks.
— The Athletic L.A. (@TheAthleticLA) January 15, 2020
Analysis: Despite having the talent to compete in the terrible Pacific Division, Anaheim has struggled to maintain a competitive stance. The Ducks sit just above the Los Angeles Kings in their division and are looking at a top-five pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. They could expedite that fall by trading one or more players.
Josh Manson certainly sticks out as one option. The 28-year-old isn’t a scoring threat but he does bring a solid physical component to the blue line with 70 hits this year. Anaheim can pitch him to an interested buyer as a guy who hits often and doesn’t give up the puck; Manson’s 50.7 Corsi For percentage is tied for second among Duck defenders in 2019-20. He also has a reasonable cap hit of just $4.1 million through 2021-22.
Two other options that would fetch larger returns are forwards Jakob Silfverberg and Ondrej Kase. Silfverberg is having an excellent season while Kase has all the tools to be a good middle-six scoring option. Kase seems like the more likely player Anaheim will want to shop; Silfverberg is valuable as a veteran leader for a young, developing Ducks squad.
If Kase is moved, a team will be acquiring a 24-year-old with upside. The former seventh-round pick has five goals and 18 points in 42 games this year. That gives him 41 goals and 91 points in 191 career games. He would be having a better year if he was shooting better than 4.4 percent. Health has been an issue for Kase but a team might not care if they are wanting another scorer who is merely having bad luck this season.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Eric Engels breaks down the difficult decisions facing the Canadiens if their struggles continue.
Analysis: Montreal is in a very difficult position. They have tons of talent but sit in a tie with the Buffalo Sabres for fifth place in the Atlantic Division. They rebounded from an eight-game losing streak to win four of five but have not found the consistency to win in their tough division. That might force the team to sell at the deadline.
The best player Montreal could sell is Tomas Tatar. The 29-year-old leads the team in scoring with 17 goals and 43 points in 50 games. He also has an incredible 101 points in 130 games as a Canadien. Every contender should be inquiring about his services which only cost $4.8 million through next year. However, trading for Tatar will cost most teams far more than they might want to give away.
If the Canadiens hold onto Tatar, their best trade chips become Jordan Weal, Nate Thompson and Ilya Kovalchuk. None fit into Montreal’s current competitive window but all three might draw interest. Kovalchuk is the most intriguing and has found a new life as a Canadien. The former LA King has four goals and eight points in eight games since signing with Montreal. He won’t continue to shoot 18 percent for the year but someone might bring the 36-year-old on board for a Cup run.
Rumour: The final NHL rumour for today comes from Sportsnet’s Headlines segment. Elliotte Friedman indicates that former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant wants a job sooner rather than later.
Analysis: It truly was a shock that Vegas let Gallant go when they did. The Golden Knights weren’t bad in any one area to an extent that warranted a firing. That doesn’t help Gallant much but he can certainly point at his record as proof he deserves a job again as soon as this year.
The hardest part of figuring out where Gallant might go is deciding who needs a coach. Many of the top contenders either have someone established and the basement-dwellers are mostly set with their coaching choice as well. There largely isn’t a team with a coach on the typical hot seat.
However, two teams stand out as ones that might call Gallant for help. The Winnipeg Jets seem to be fading slightly in the Central Division and might turn to a coach who’s made the Stanley Cup as recently as 2018. The Jets have issues Gallant can’t fix on his own but it would be a new start for a team trending downward. The Detroit Red Wings also might replace Jeff Blashill as Detroit’s rebuild continues. Gallant will find a new job soon. It just isn’t clear who his new employer will be.