Welcome to the Monday edition of NHL Rumours. It’s the trade deadline today and chatter is flying. Last Word on Hockey will bring you the fastest analysis today as news breaks and the best review of the aftermath. Today’s rumours feature the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Islanders.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Saturday Headlines clarified what Toronto might be thinking as far as its blueline is concerned.
Two versions of Headlines tonight: First was a bit of a wild one, as it unfolded while David Ayres entered the game. Barrie/Petry/Tyson Jost/NYI/Kreider/Josh Anderson/CHI/Palmieri/Simmonds/Vatanen — https://t.co/KFu7gBSvJd
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 23, 2020
Analysis: It certainly makes sense for Toronto to try and trade Tyson Barrie. He will want a significant pay increase after multiple years of solid production. A pay raise would push his cap hit higher than its current figure of $2.75 million. Toronto cannot afford to pay that if they are also going to retain promising 23-year-old Travis Dermott and a handful of other bottom-six options.
The 28-year-old Barrie has been one of the NHL’s best offensive defencemen over his nine-year career. He scored 14 goals and 59 points in 78 games for Colorado last year before he was traded in the Nazem Kadri deal. Barrie has just five goals and 35 points in 63 games this season but the switch from Mike Babcock to Sheldon Keefe has been great for the veteran.
However, Toronto will have a logjam on their blueline when Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci return from the injured list. Barrie’s production is certainly worth a first-round pick and an above-average prospect. They could then flip the pick and the expendable Kasperi Kapanen for a veteran defender signed beyond 2019-20. Kapanen has 12 goals and 35 points but will have his position battle when Andreas Johnsson and Ilya Mikheyev return for next season. He is a good player but is more valuable as a way for Toronto to reinforce some depth for 2020-21.
Rumour: Headlines also indicated that the Canadiens have placed a big asking price on top defenceman Jeff Petry.
Analysis: The 32-year-old Petry is having a great season. He has nine goals and 37 points in 64 games. He is on-pace to surpass 2018-19’s 13 goals and 46 points in 82 games at this point in the season. Petry also has a reasonable cap hit of $5.5 million through 2020-21 which makes him very valuable in terms of both production and value.
Montreal recognizes he is their best trade asset on the blueline and probably the best defender overall. Shea Weber is more famous but could fall off the production cliff at any point at 34-years-old. Defenders can often age more gracefully than forwards but Montreal would like to not rely heavily on an ageing and expensive defender for the next six seasons.
However, many teams might not want to give Montreal its asking price in exchange for Petry. He would cost at least a first-round pick and possibly at least one or two other players. Very few teams could afford to give up that much and take on Petry’s cap hit. The Avalanche certainly could but might not want to give up anyone from their existing NHL roster. Montreal would almost certainly ask for top prospect Bowen Byram as well in a Petry deal.
Rumour: Headlines are the gift that keeps on giving as it revealed that Tyson Jost is being discussed as a big part of Colorado’s trade chips.
Analysis: Colorado is in one of the strongest positions of any team coming up to the trade deadline this season. They have tons of cap space and one of the best prospect pools in the league. In that context, it makes sense to see Jost’s name on the trade block.
The 21-year-old was the tenth overall pick in the 2016 Draft but has yet to seize a significant role in the Avs system. He has five goals and 16 points in 58 games. Jost has also never scored more than 26 points in a season and isn’t likely to this year. He is a good possession forward but has failed to put all his skills together and become a true top-six forward.
He is also expendable as Colorado is looking at several replacement options in the coming seasons. Nazem Kadri is the second-line centre for now and other centre options are developing behind him. He doesn’t have much of a future left as a member of the Avalanche but would be an intriguing piece in return for a top reinforcement. One team that might ask for Jost could be the New York Rangers if they decide to move star Chris Kreider.
New York Islanders
Rumour: The last of today’s NHL rumours comes courtesy of Sportsnet as well. They recently speculated in 31 thoughts that the Isles could make a play for Kreider.
Analysis: It makes sense that the Islanders would want a scorer of Kreider’s calibre. His 24 goals would lead the other New York team and his 45 total points would make him third. The Islanders are tied with two other teams for fourth in the Metropolitan Division and are only three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers. A top-six player would give a huge boost to their playoff hopes.
The Islanders could afford Kreider’s cap hit of $4.62 million but would have to give up a significant amount in return. Their first-round pick in the 2020 Draft would be a starting point. The Rangers might also ask for at least one prospect as well. Otto Koivula would fit the Rangers’ preferred profile for a big forward. Asking for defender Noah Dobson would also let the Rangers shift Marc Staal or Anthony DeAngelo after the season.
Kreider will not be cheap whatever the price but the Islanders need a jolt. They had lost four straight before beating the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks over the weekend. New York cannot afford to drop any points with the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets potentially making moves as well. Paying the asking price for Kreider would give them a significant advantage in the final weeks of the season.