In their quest to land a true first-line center, the Toronto Maple Leafs have reportedly cast their eyes south to Carolina and Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Maple Leafs held discussions with the Hurricanes during the summer, but the asking price could be “enormous.”
McKenzie speculates such a move could cost the Leafs either Nazem Kadri or Tyler Bozak (as the Hurricanes would need a center to replace Staal), a first-round pick and perhaps defenseman Jake Gardiner, but he believes it’s a price the Leafs are willing to pay. Read more
The Philadelphia Flyers suffered a scare last week when defenseman Braydon Coburn was sidelined by a lower-body injury. It raised speculation they might go shopping for blueline help if the injury was long term, but it appears he could return to action in a matter of days, rather than weeks.
For a defense corps still lacking a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury three years ago, and with Kimmo Timonen sidelined with career-threatening blood clots, the possibility of losing Coburn long term was a genuine cause for concern. Read more
The Boston Bruins resolved their cap issues and blueline logjam with their recent trade of defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders, but there’s another roster problem to be addressed.
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty believes Loui Eriksson is a third-line winger with the Bruins, doubting he’ll ever become the offensive force they believed he would become when they acquired him in last year’s Tyler Seguin trade with the Dallas Stars.
Two concussions and a heel injury sidelined Eriksson for 21 games last season, limiting him to 10 goals and 37 points in 61 games. The 29-year-old went scoreless in the Bruins’ opening three games this season before tallying his first goal in the their 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Monday.
Haggerty believes the Bruins need another top-six forward at right wing to replace the offense of Jarome Iginla, who departed this summer via free agency. Finding such a forward this early in the season, however, won’t be easy.
Buffalo Sabres defenceman Tyler Myers remains a fixture in the NHL’s early-season rumor mill. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Myers’ name is “out there,” though the Sabres are downplaying it. Dreger suggests moving the 6-foot-8, 227-pounder blueliner could improve the Sabres’ chances in the 2015 NHL draft. He claims the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks expressed interest in the big defenceman.
Teams hoping to land Myers, however, should be prepared to pay a steep price. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims the Detroit Red Wings made inquiries this summer, but the talks ended when the Sabres asked for prospect forward Anthony Mantha.
Myers has struggled since his Calder Trophy-winning debut in 2009-10, but he’s only 24 and still has sufficient time to blossom into a blueline star, especially with a talent-laden club. While Sabres management is willing to listen to offers for Myers, it doesn’t mean they’re keen to move him.
Anyone can be dealt for the right price, but by demanding Mantha as part of the return from the Red Wings, it’s clear the Sabres won’t just give him away, even to improve their opportunities to land the first overall pick in the 2015 draft. If Myers shows improvement this season, don’t be surprised if the Sabres retain him.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner were subjects of trade speculation throughout last season. In a recent interview with the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger, Leafs GM Dave Nonis claims he never actively shopped the pair.
Nonis did say if the right deal came along for a player like Kadri he would trade him. “But there’s a big difference between being willing to trade a player and trying to trade a player. We were never trying to trade Jake or Naz,” he said. Nonis said the Leafs re-signed Gardiner to a long-term deal this summer because they believe in him, and Nonis expects Kadri will also be a special player.
Given the rumors flying around last season about Kadri and Gardiner, Nonis was probably getting calls from rival clubs expressing interest in the pair. If the Leafs struggle again this season, or if Kadri and/or Gardiner fail to improve as projected, the speculation could resurface, but Nonis made it very clear last season he expected to get a comparable young player in return for either guy.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is no fan of the current NHL draft lottery system, believing it rewards teams that perform poorly. He suggests some teams could attempt to tank the season in order to better their odds of landing the first overall pick.
Brooks wonders if the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes decide at the NHL trade deadline to trade their best player for a seventh-round pick if the league would reject such a deal. Given how lopsided that trade would be, one suspects the league would reject it based on proportionality. Read more
The Buffalo News’ John Vogl observes the Sabres will have considerable cap space for 2015-16 if GM Tim Murray wants to invest in experienced talent to play alongside their promising youth. He points out the Sabres currently have 15 players under contract totalling $37.7 million, leaving them $13.3 million from the cap floor and “a colossal $31.3 million” under the cap limit.
Vogl considers this an opportunity for the Sabres to “dream big,” suggesting they attempt to acquire a notable star like San Jose’s Joe Thornton, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg or Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Read more
Over the weekend the New York Islanders helped the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks resolve their respective salary cap issues. The Isles shipped draft picks to the Bruins for veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk, then sent three prospects to the Blackhawks for blueliner Nick Leddy.
These moves provide a significant boost of experience and skill to the Islanders blueline, while the fallout from the respective deals is still being discussed in Boston and Chicago. Read more