The Nashville Predators are awaiting an update this week on the status of goaltender Pekka Rinne, who’s been sidelined for several weeks with a bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip. His condition has fuelled speculation the Predators are shopping for help between the pipes.
Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch recently reported Predators GM David Poile could be interested in Anaheim Ducks starter Jonas Hiller and Florida Panthers netminder Tim Thomas. Both are unrestricted free agents at season’s end, making them good short-term option for the Predators. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson listed the Predators as a possible destination for Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
A lower-body injury to Ducks backup Viktor Fasth means Hiller is unavailable until January, while the Panthers hope Thomas can revive their flagging playoff chances. Poile is unlikely to pursue an expensive rental player like Miller. Read more
November was a month best forgotten for the Vancouver Canucks, managing only four wins in 13 games leading up to their 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 1. They’re one point back of eighth-place Phoenix the competitive Western Conference standings.
A lack of scoring is largely to blame for the Canucks’ struggles. Since the end of October, all of their losses were the result of scoring two goals or less per game. Coach John Tortorella lamented his club’s scoring woes following their 5-2 loss Saturday to the New York Rangers.
“We’re getting the chances,” he said. “We just haven’t finished.”
The stats back him up, as the Canucks are third overall in shots per game (32.9) but 16th in goals per game (2.62), while their power play (13.7 percent) is 26th.
Outside of the Sedins and Ryan Kesler, Canucks forwards are struggling to find the back of the net. Center Mike Santorelli collected nine of his 17 points in October. Wingers David Booth, Jannik Hansen and Zack Kassian have six points each, while former 35-goal scorer Alex Burrows had three assists before he was sidelined with a broken jaw.
Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province feels the Canucks are in danger of fading out of the playoff race if they don’t make a significant upgrade, but he doesn’t know where it could come from. Unless Booth and Kassian improve soon, Gallagher believes the only solution is a beneficial trade or “a very long wait” for prospects Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk.
The NHL’s Christmas trade freeze period (Dec. 19 to 27) is fast approaching and the GMs of several struggling clubs hope the trade market improves before then. With 22 clubs possessing less than $5 million in cap space, it’s difficult to find willing trade partners.
New York Islanders GM Garth Snow is among those trying to find help for his floundering team. Entering this week, the Isles are 11 points out of a post-season berth, winning only two of their past 10 games. Snow must address their dire need of an experienced starting goalie and blueline depth soon to prevent his club sliding further out of playoff contention.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported two league sources claim Snow was shopping for a goalie. Garrioch suggested Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller as the best target, though he admitted convincing Miller to waive his no-trade clause to join the Isles was a long shot. Garrrioch also considers the Islanders a potential trade destination for Washington Capitals right winger Martin Erat and his $4.5 million annual cap hit.
Snow has the cap space ($16.6 million) to take on a big salary. Having already acquired Thomas Vanek, Snow’s probably not keen to pursue Miller, especially as the Sabres will squeeze him for young assets. As for Erat, he won’t resolve the Isles’ defensive problems. Read more
As the Buffalo Sabres continue to lurch through the season, goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the club remains a subject of constant conjecture.
Jean-Francois Chaumont of TVA Sports reports the 33-year-old Miller lacks the patience to go through another Sabres rebuild. Still, he hasn’t requested a trade, preferring to see the club’s direction by February or March before considering his options.
It’s widely anticipated the Sabres will shop Miller, either before the Olympic trade freeze (February 7 – 23) or by the March 5 trade deadline.
CBC’s Elliotte Friedman wonders if Miller could end up with the Anaheim Ducks, believing they might lack full confidence in starter Jonas Hiller. He notes backup Viktor Fasth is plagued by injuries while call-up Frederik Andersen might not be ready for a club which that has “lofty goals” this season.
Hiller’s unrestricted free agent status in July is another reason for his frequent appearance in the rumor mill. Bringing in Miller – also a UFA at season’s end – would certainly be a bold move, but ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun believes Fasth’s latest injury could force the Ducks to retain Hiller for the time being.
A decline in the Montreal Canadiens offense prompted speculation GM Marc Bergevin will soon make a significant move.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently reported Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty was mentioned in trade talks. McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun said teams were enquiring about Pacioretty, but a Habs source “forcibly” denied he was being shopped.
Unless Bergevin’s in the market for a healthier power forward, moving Pacioretty makes no sense. And don’t expect him to trade youngsters like Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk or Brendan Gallagher. The trio are the Canadiens most productive forwards, combining for 46 points.
Winger Rene Bourque could be available, but his declining production and $3.3 million per season salary are a tough sell. Ditto center David Desharnais and his $3.5 million per. Captain Brian Gionta is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, but injuries and age have affected his performance and trade value. Read more
After only 32 games with the Washington Capitals, right winger Martin Erat wants out. Unhappy over his limited playing time, the 32-year-old recently requested a trade.
The Capitals acquired Erat and center Michael Latta from the Nashville Predators at last season’s trade deadline in exchange for highly touted prospect Filip Forsberg. That move earned GM George McPhee considerable criticism for what some observers considered a panicky late move.
Asked if he had any regrets, McPhee defended the deal, but there’s no question Erat failed to play up to expectations during his short tenure with the Capitals. The 19-year-old Forsberg, meanwhile, has seen limited action (in part due to injuries) with the Predators, but he is still considered to have a promising future.
Erat has a full no-movement clause, but McPhee told the Post he doesn’t expect that to be an issue, claiming the Erat is being flexible and accommodating about potential destinations. With only 30 points since the start of last season and an annual cap hit of $4.5 million through 2014-15, the Capitals won’t find many takers. Even with Erat’s actual salary of $3.8 million for this season dropping to $2.25 million next season, that still doesn’t make him attractive trade bait. Read more
Since the Florida Panthers shipped winger Kris Versteeg earlier this month to the Chicago Blackhawks, speculation persists over which Panthers will be next on the trade block.
According to recent rumors, center Shawn Matthias is attracting the most interest from clubs seeking forward depth. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman recently linked Matthias to the Vancouver Canucks, SI.com’s Allan Muir reported the Montreal Canadiens could be a suitor and the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson claimed the Oilers were making enquiries.
Why so much interest in a 25-year-old center who’s never tallied more than 24 points in a season? Matthias’ size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), two-way abilities and affordable contract ($1.75 million per season) make him valuable for teams in need of depth forwards. His 14-goal, 21-point performance during last season’s shortened schedule suggests he could become a decent second-line player on a more talented club.
Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has also resurfaced in the rumor mill, with Muir claiming the Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings are interested, but he suggests the Anaheim Ducks could be a better fit. With Sheldon Souray sidelined until January and Luca Sbisa out six to eight weeks to a torn tendon in his right hand, Kulikov could be in the Ducks sights. Read more
Whomever the Buffalo Sabres hire as their new GM will have to move quickly to determine goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the club. Miller’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and if unwilling to re-sign could be shopped before the March 5 trade deadline.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch cited a league source claiming the Los Angeles Kings could be in the market for a goalie. That should interest Miller, whose wife, actress Noureen DeWulf, works in Hollywood.
Kings starter Jonathan Quick remains sidelined with a groin injury for at least another month and while backup Ben Scrivens has played well, Garrioch doesn’t consider him a long-term solution.
The St. Louis Blues have also been linked to Miller, but SI.com’s Allan Muir noted their limited cap space means they can’t afford Miller’s $6.25-million cap hit, even if the Sabres agreed to pick up half. Same goes for the Kings, who have $1.7 million in cap space and a 10-year commitment with Quick. Read more