Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. With each passing day, we inch closer and closer to the trade deadline which is on February 24th. With this deadline fast approaching, NHL rumours are coming in hot. Today we will focus on NHL rumours from the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks.
All NHL Rumours come from their original sources and are subject to change.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) January 21, 2020
Analysis: While Ilya Kovalchuk should come as no surprise as a lot of fans felt like him signing with the Habs was strictly for the purpose of building his stock to move to a contender (if the Habs were not in the playoff picture themselves) the other two names are a bit more shocking.
Marco Scandella was brought over to the Canadiens in a trade from the Minnesota Wild and is a home town boy. He resides in Montreal in the offseason and has made it known it was his dream to play for the Canadiens since he was a kid. It would be a bit surprising to see the Habs move him rather than try to sign him given their need on left defence. However, if the price is right and the Habs are out of a playoff spot, Bergevin needs to use asset management to make his club better moving forward. Scandella could always sign back with the Habs in the offseason if he chooses. With the demand for a defenceman, Scandella should be able to fetch at least a third-round pick at the deadline.
Jeff Petry, on the other hand, is a completely different story. He is a very crucial part of the Habs defence group and has another year remaining on his current contract and a decent cap hit of $5.5 million per season. He would be irreplaceable in the Habs line up at the moment. However, this number added to his ability is exactly what makes him a trade target. Teams are crying for a right-handed defenceman to play in their top four. These defencemen are few and far between and as the only other one listed on the trade bait board is Sami Vatanen of the New Jersey Devils. Vatanen would be a rental, however, as his contract expires at seasons end.
If the Habs were to move Petry, teams would be lining up to acquire him. You can bet there would be a bidding war for him and he would most certainly fetch a first-round pick at the very least. Petry is a solid two-way defender with great skating and puck-moving abilities. He also has the ability to quarterback a team’s powerplay. Petry has hit the 40 point plateau in each of the last two seasons, including a career-high 46 last season. He is currently on pace to tie that number this year.
New York Rangers
Analysis: We continuously hear Chris Kreider‘s name out of New York so Buchnevich being brought up is a bit refreshing. While he’s not the typical trade target being 24 and still having another year left on his deal, Brooks mentions he could be falling out of favour in New York. Despite being on pace to have his most productive season yet, Buchnevich has gone cold recently with just two goals and four assists in his last 23 games. He also found himself spending time on the fourth line in the club’s most recent game. While a playoff berth is unlikely for the Rangers, they have to keep all options open. That includes moving Buchnevich.
There are a lot of teams that are in search for some depth scoring. One team to keep on eye on would be the Edmonton Oilers. They have been rumoured to be in the market for some depth upfront to help ease the load off Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers currently sit second in the Pacific Division and are in a tight race as the fifth seed and final Wild-Card holder Vegas Golden Knights also has 57 points. The Oilers would certainly like to add some depth sooner rather than later to help try to pull away from the pack. Buchenevich is capable of consistently putting up over 40 points and lined up next to McDavid we could expect to see 50 to 60 points.
Rumour: In a recent Q and A segment Sportnet’s Iain MacIntyre asked general manager Jim Benning questions regarding his approach to this year’s trade deadline and if he is still, in fact, looking for a top-six forward.
GM Benning on Canucks deadline thinking: “We have a group of guys that likes playing with one another. I want to make sure if we do do something, we don’t wreck the chemistry in the group that we have right now.”
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) January 21, 2020
Analysis: Benning’s answer is basically what you would expect. He didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no. Benning basically stated that he liked the group he has right now and the players he has in the minors that the Canucks are developing. He does not want to ship out picks and prospects for a player who is only going to help for a couple of months. He also mentions he does not want to mess with the chemistry in the room as he believes he has a good group as it stands. However, if the opportunity arises to make his team better today and in the future, he’s willing to look at it.
Two names that stand out are the aforementioned Pavel Buchnevich and even more so Kyle Palmieri. Both these players are on teams who most likely won’t be making the playoffs and have one more year remaining on their deals. Palmieri seems to fit the bill a little more than Buchenevich however, in terms of what Benning is looking for. Palmieri is a top-six forward who is a proven goal scorer and is also a character player. He is capable of putting up 20 goals and 50 points every year and would certainly be a massive edition for the Canucks to make a push for the Stanley Cup.
The issue, however, is cap space. The Canucks don’t have much left to give. If the Canucks want to try to upgrade their team, they’re going to have to move out one of their bigger contracts. Loui Eriksson specifically. His $6 million cap hit for the next two seasons is causing an issue for the Canucks so getting that off the books would be a huge win for them. Maybe a team like the Anaheim Ducks, who have already said they would be willing to eat a team’s bad contract for a price could help the Canucks out with this.
There would have to be some moving parts, but Benning should be able to move around some cap to be able to squeeze in Palmieri’s $4.65 million cap hit. That is, if the New Jersey Devils would, in fact, move him.