Insider Trading: Teams calling defence-thin Leafs
The National Hockey League's Trade Deadline is on Monday, Feb. 24, and teams will be making decisions on whether to buy or sell and decide which players can make the biggest difference and hold the greatest value. Check out the latest trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.
Avoiding the Circus
There was no shortage of trade speculation for the Ottawa Senators last season as they looked to deal Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel ahead of the deadline.
General manager Pierre Dorion said Tuesday the team has an idea for how they will proceed at the trade deadline and will look to move some pending unrestricted free agents, but will try to manoeuvre in a quieter way this time around.
“Instead of being focused on playing the game, everyone was focused on everyone else’s contract,” Dorion told TSN Radio 1200 Ottawa of last year's deadline. “You create a circus atmosphere and one thing we want to do is be as respectful to our fans as possible. They have the right to know the direction we’re going, but I think they understand the process.
“At the same time, we’re just going to do things quietly and we’re going to move forward. The one thing we can do, if you’ve been in this game a little while, is you can do contracts quick.”
The biggest name that could become available from the Senators is centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who is on pace for a career-best season with 19 goals and 31 points in 46 games. In addition to Pageau, teammates Mikkel Boedker, Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyler Ennis, Scott Sabourin, Mark Borowiecki, Cody Goloubef and goaltender Craig Anderson are all scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency this summer.
Dorion said the team must balance keeping a veteran presence on the team while still building for the future.
“All I’m going to tell you is we’re going to have meaningful discussions with some UFAs and some UFAs we’ll probably look to move,” Dorion said. “Yes, for sure we will, we know we need quality veterans moving forward as part of this rebuild and we know we just can’t rely on our younger players, but at the same time you have to have the balance.
“We feel we’ve taken a huge step forward this year and it might not show in the points, but how we compete game in and game out, and there’s probably only been a handful of games where I felt we haven’t competed, and sometimes it’s closing out games. We’re going to have to take a step forward next year in how we compete and move up in the standings.”
The idea of the Montreal Canadiens trading veterans Carey Price and Shea Weber has been brought up by writers in the area, but it appears general manager Marc Bergevin has no interest in moving either piece.
According to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, Bergevin will not even listen to offers for either player ahead of trade deadline.
"Well there were Leaf fans on social media - in the news of Morgan Rielly - hoping of a Shea Weber trade," LeBrun said on Insider Trading. "I don’t think you’re going to see that happening. But, there are certainly fans and media in Montreal with the Habs falling out of a playoff spot wondering how to rebuild this team. Or to continue to the rebuild.
"And yes, should Carey Price be dealt, or should Shea Weber? I can tell you this. You can stop speculating about that, because Habs GM Marc Bergevin told me on Tuesday he has no intention of thinking about trading Carey Price or Shea Weber and would not listen if a team phoned on Carey Price or Shea Weber before the trade deadline. And listen, he’s been on the record before saying that as this team gets younger, the leadership that Shea Weber and Carey Price provide for this team is important to him. He believes it works and he wants those two guys to be part of that."
The Canadiens have won two straight after snapping an eight-game winless skid and will host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. Montreal is seven points back of the Philadelphia Flyers for the final wild-card spot with four teams ahead of them.
LeBrun wrote earlier this week on who the team would be willing to part with should they decide to sell ahead of the deadline.
On the Way Out?
Larry Brooks of the New York Post argues that it's in the Rangers best interest to re-sign Chris Kreider in order to build off his success this season on a line with Artemi Panarin.
Brooks notes, however, that the two sides have yet to have "a single substantive conversation" on a new contract for the winger. He points to Anders Lee's seven-year, $49 million deal with the New York Islanders as a potential comparison and while that may be too much length for the 28-year-old, Brooks believes it's worth it to improve the team's outlook over the next five years.
According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, though, the signs point towards the Rangers parting ways with Kreider, and he adds they're willing to eat some of his salary to do so.
"Well, ‘tis the season to speculate, because every day, obviously, we inch closer to the NHL trade deadline," Dreger said. "Chris Kreider’s name, of the New York Rangers, remains front and centre. There’s still going to be contract discussions, perhaps negotiations with Rangers management. But it’s assumed that Chris Kreider’s most likely going to be traded.
"Of course there is interest in this power forward. And there is a sense that the New York Rangers will be willing to retain as much as 50 per cent of the salary. If that’s the case and the deal is right, then you could look at some of the big dogs like the St. Louis Blues, maybe the Boston Bruins, to take a run at Chris Kreider."
Kreider, who carries a $4.625 million cap hit for this season, has 15 goals and 30 points in 45 games this season. He has spent his entire career with the Rangers since being selected 19th overall in 2009.
The Rangers (22-19-4) trail the Philadelphia Flyers by six points for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.