The Toronto Maple Leafs current six-game winning streak has quieted calls from fans and analysts for management to shake things up with a trade.
Amid the hubbub last week over center Nazem Kadri’s trade status, the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox claims a rumor circulating during the recent CHL/NHL Top Prospects game involved Leafs goalie James Reimer heading to Edmonton this summer for Oilers sophomore right winger Nail Yakupov.
The Oilers’ recently traded Devan Dubnyk to Nashville and acquired Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles. However, it’s widely assumed they will pursue a more experienced starter this summer via free agency or trade.
This isn’t the first time this season Reimer’s been linked to the Oilers. However, he’s been relegated to backup duty behind Jonathan Bernier, so he’s yet to establish himself as a starting netminder. It’s also difficult to believe the Leafs have interest in Yakupov, whose one-dimensional style would not sit well with Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.
SHOULD THE BLUES PURSUE MILLER?
A growing number of NHL pundits doubt Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott can carry the St. Louis Blues to a Stanley Cup.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson cites statistics indicating the Blues are 1-7 this season against San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, their biggest rivals in the Western Conference. Halak and Elliott have a combined .833 save percentage against those teams.
Matheson believes the Blues could shop left winger Magnus Paajarvi plus their first round pick for an upgrade between the pipes, and also suggests Halak could be available.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun added his voice to the chorus calling for the Blues to pursue Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller before the March trade deadline. Garrioch dismisses the notion the Blues are fine with their goaltending and feels they won’t get many chances to land a top goalie like Miller.
The problems with pursuing Miller are his contract and the Sabres’ hefty asking price. As Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, the Blues have limited cap space and that makes it difficult to envision a scenario where they shed enough salary to take on the remainder of Miller’s contract, let alone part with the Sabres demand for young players and top draft picks.
If the Blues have interest in Miller, their best bet to acquire him is via free agency this summer, when they’ll have the cap space to sign him without having to part with promising assets.
DOES GRUBAUER STILL WANT A TRADE?
After carrying three goaltenders (Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Philipp Grubauer) for several weeks, the Washington Capitals resolved the situation Monday by demoting Grubauer to their American League affiliate in Hershey.
Grubauer, called up on Nov. 30 when Neuvirth was sidelined, played well throughout December, relegating Neuvirth to the press box and prompting a trade request from his agent. The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports the Grubauer demotion was made in hopes a return to their regular tandem of Holtby and Neuvirth provides the Capitals with the stability needed to overcome their recent struggles.
Neuvirth declined to say if Grubauer’s demotion would impact his trade request. He now has an opportunity for more playing time and to improve his trade value. Then again, if Neuvirth’s performance also improves the Capitals fortunes, they would be less inclined to move him.
Speaking of the Capitals, there’s nothing new on the Martin Erat trade front. Having requested a trade nearly two months ago, he’s done little to make himself an attractive commodity. With no goals and 16 assists in 42 games and carrying a $4.5-million cap hit through 2014-15, he’s looking like a compliance buyout candidate this June.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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