Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)
Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)
The Coyotes are reportedly looking to move out Anthony Duclair, and that was the case as early as this past summer. Duclair was reportedly part of a trade offer Arizona made for Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
Last week, Calgary Flames president Brian Burke publicly dismissed mounting speculation suggesting his club could be shopping defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Burke also said a club made what he called an insulting offer for Hamilton last summer.
That team, apparently, was the Arizona Coyotes. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Coyotes GM John Chayka approached Flames GM Brad Treliving around the 2016 NHL Draft with an offer of young winger Anthony Duclair and a draft pick for the 23-year-old Hamilton. Dreger said the talks didn't go very far and doesn't know why this story recently resurfaced, though Burke obviously had enough.
The Flames might not be moving Hamilton, but NHL insider Pierre LeBrun last Friday told Vancouver's TSN 1040 that Treliving had talks about other players with several teams in recent weeks. Given the Flames' improvement over the last couple of weeks, those discussions have cooled.
While Burke's comments should put an end to the Hamilton trade chatter for a while, this story should further stoke conjecture over the 21-year-old Duclair's future with the Coyotes. He was thought to be a key part of their rebuilding program, with a respectable 20-goal, 44-point rookie performance last season.
Of late, however, there's talk the Coyotes could entertain offers for Duclair, who's managed only four points in 24 games this season. It was believed they wanted a good young player, preferably a center, as a return. Given their pursuit of Hamilton last summer, a promising blueliner could also fit the bill.
SENATORS SEEKING DEPTH FORWARD
TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported last Thursday Senators general manager Pierre Dorion was working the phones for a versatile bottom-six forward. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch also reports Dorion's shopping for a forward after placing winger Bobby Ryan on injured reserve.
While the Coyotes are reportedly willing to listen to offers for winger Anthony Duclair, LeBrun claims the Senators aren't interested. That's understandable, as the Coyotes apparently seek a good young player who can help them right away. Dorion can't spare that type of player.
Another option could be Boston Bruins forward Ryan Spooner, who can skate at center or on the wing. The Bruins are apparently talking with several clubs. Spooner's $950K salary-cap hit is certainly enticing, plus he had a 49-point campaign in 2015-16. While Dorion's looking for someone to play on his checking lines, Ryan's injury might make him reconsider.
Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes could be another option. Garrioch reported Sunday the Bruins would like to move him, but Dorion could balk at his poor production (one goal in 23 games) and $2.3-million annual cap hit through 2017-18.
Garrioch also reports Edmonton Oilers left wing Benoit Pouliot could be available. He said the Oilers weren't shopping the 30-year-old veteran, but had spoken with several clubs to gauge their interest. He also notes the New York Islanders are trying to move winger Nikolai Kulemin.
Both players, however, carry rather pricey cap hits. Pouliot is pulling in $4-million annually through 2018-19, while the 30-year-old Kulemin's is earning $4.187 million through 2017-18.
A more affordable option could be Toronto Maple Leafs center Peter Holland. With a $1.3-million cap hit for this season, the 25-year-old is reportedly on the trade block. The Sens and Leafs have a recent trade history, so perhaps this could be a move that helps both sides.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.). For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
The Blue Jackets have been the most pleasant surprise in the NHL this season, but it's still going to take convincing for the hockey world to believe they're for real.
We’ll totally understand if you’re having just a little trouble getting on board with the 2016-17 version of the Columbus Blue Jackets. After all, you’ve probably been burned before.
Their fan base certainly seems to be wary. Despite the fact the Blue Jackets are the surprise of the NHL and have emerged as one of the most dynamic and exciting teams in the league, they drawn fewer than 12,000 in three of their past four home games. Even their coach thinks the team has work to do to earn their fans’ trust. “I want our team to have a chip on their shoulder,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella told Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch recently. “I think they should. We’re trying to get respect in the league. Quite honestly, we should be disrespected because of where we’ve been.”
That won’t last long if the Blue Jackets keep this up. The league’s best power play continues to fuel one of the league’s hottest teams and has landed them at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings for the second time this season. Last week’s rankings in parentheses:
CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Columbus Blue Jackets (8)
2. Philadelphia Flyers (15)
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (6)
4. St. Louis Blues (2)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (5)
6. Montreal Canadiens (7)
7. New York Rangers (4)
8. San Jose Sharks (11)
9. Boston Bruins (20)
10. Calgary Flames (27)
Is there a bigger bargain or a shrewder off-season signing than Sam Gagner?...Steve Mason went from one of the worst goalies in the NHL early in the season to one of the best of late. His save percentage in his first 16 games was .892, but has improved to .947 in his past five… If Marc-Andre Fleury wants to get traded, he’s not doing himself any favor with his play lately…The Blues completed a 4-0-1 home stand with the game going into overtime…With Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford already out, the Blackhawks lost defenseman Brent Seabrook in their 4-0 win over Arizona Tuesday night…How will the Canadiens and the surprising Alexander Radulov respond to the injury to Alex Galchenyuk?...The injury-ravaged Rangers saw Rick Nash go down with a groin injury and Matt Puempel to a concussion in their 4-2 loss to the Islanders Tuesday night…Joe Thornton passed Brendan Shanahan for 25th all-time on the NHL’s scoring list with an assist in a 2-1 win over Montreal last week…Anyone who predicted David Pastrnak would be in Rocket Richard Trophy contention a third of the way into the season is looking very bright at the moment…The Flames were already one of the hottest teams in the NHL without Johnny Gaudreau, then won their first two with him back in the lineup.
THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Washington Capitals (11)
12. Edmonton Oilers (14)
13. Ottawa Senators (12)
14. Los Angeles Kings (1)
15. New Jersey Devils (23)
16. Detroit Red Wings (16)
17. Nashville Predators (3)
18. Minnesota Wild (19)
19. Anaheim Ducks (10)
20. Winnipeg Jets (17)
Capitals coach Barry Trotz had some pointed words to Alex Ovechkin about his penchant for taking minor penalties of late. No cracks in the foundation, though. Just a frank discussion…The Oilers game Tuesday night against Buffalo was touted as Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel, the kind of narrative the Oilers have learned to accept. “Every night it’s Connor vs. Somebody,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan…Goalie Craig Anderson started in the Senators’ 8-5 loss to Pittsburgh Monday night, but did not travel with the team for a three-game California trip to be with his wife as she undergoes treatment for throat cancer…The usually stingy Kings have given up 11 goals in their past three games. “That’s too many goals,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter…Devils winger Taylor Hall on the aftermath of his clean, but devastating, hit on Philip Larsen Tuesday night: “I feel terrible.” Not to be trite, but Hall should not be feeling terrible about the way he has played since returning from a knee injury. He has five points in his past two games…Goalie Jimmy Howard will be back in uniform for the Red Wings when they host Columbus Friday night, but will have a difficult time pushing Petr Mrazek out of the crease…After missing four games with an upper-body injury, James Neal scored a goal in a 4-3 Predators’ win over Colorado Tuesday night…Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, whose career was revived when he came to Minnesota, will make his 300th career start tonight in Toronto…Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle could not pull Jonathan Bernier during his team’s 8-3 loss to Calgary because backup John Gibson was battling a stomach virus…Over the past 30 years, only Teemu Selanne and Alex Ovechkin have scored goals at a better pace than Patrik Laine of the Jets is scoring them now.
VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. New York Islanders (26)
22. Tampa Bay Lightning (22)
23. Carolina Hurricanes (25)
24. Buffalo Sabres (29)
25. Florida Panthers (24)
26. Vancouver Canucks (18)
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (13)
28. Dallas Stars (28)
29. Arizona Coyotes (21)
30. Colorado Avalanche (30)
With points in each of their past five games, four of them wins, the Islanders are easily on their most successful string of the season…The Lightning could get Ryan Callahan, Jason Garrison and Jonathan Drouin back for their home game against Vancouver Thursday night…Jordan Staal, sidelined for the past four games with a concussion, likely won’t be available to the Hurricanes for a three-game road trip through California that begins tonight…After playing almost 500 games in the minors, defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer made his NHL debut in the Sabres’ 3-2 overtime win over Washington Tuesday night… Panthers have gone to overtime in four of their five games GM Tom Rowe has been behind the bench. They’ve won one in overtime, lost two in OT and one in a shootout…Philip Larsen, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hit from Taylor Hall Tuesday night, was released from hospital in New Jersey Wednesday morning and was cleared to return to Vancouver while the Canucks continue on a five-game road trip…After waiving Jhonas Enroth, the Maple Leafs search for a backup goalie continues. They signed Karri Ramo to a professional tryout contract and assigned him to their farm team. That should cure everything…The Coyotes have been outscored 14-6 and have averaged 41 shots against per game in an 0-3-1 month of December…All nine of Matt Duchene’s goals this season have come on the road. The Avs could use that kind of production at the Pepsi Center, where they’re 4-8-1 this season and recently went 0-4-1 on a five-game homestand.
The budding power forward is having a successful season with USHL Youngstown, with Penn State on the horizon. Learn about him and other future NHLers in our weekly wrap
The world junior camp rosters are really rolling out now and there have been some minor surprises. Sweden will not be taking a last look at 2017 draft prospects Timothy Liljegren and Erik Brannstrom on defense, while Russia is taking a pass on Columbus pick Vitalii Abramov, among others. And now we know that Nolan Patrick will not suit up for Canada, due to injury. But let's concentrate on the player around the prospect world that are having good weeks. As always, here's our wrap-up of who is making waves.
Brett Murray, LW (Buffalo): We are just beginning to see what Murray is capable on the ice, but it's been a pretty good show already. The burgeoning power forward has the right frame at 6-foot-5 and 222 pounds and has put up 16 points in his first 22 USHL games with the Youngstown Phantoms. Now it's just a matter of speed for the Sabres' fourth-rounder.
“Being a bigger guy, my acceleration and quickness off the start is something I can work on," Murray said. "Always improving top speed in open-ice skating is a huge thing.”
With that foreboding frame, Murray can grow into a force once he puts it all together. The early results are encouraging and he already has championship experience from this past season, when he helped the CCHL's Carleton Place Canadians win their Jr. A title in Ontario's Ottawa region. In Youngstown, he's facing tougher competition and the stakes will rise again next year when he heads to Hockey Valley and the NCAA's Penn State Nittany Lions.
“It just seemed like the right fit," Murray said. "They have a new state-of-the-art facility and as a progression for me, just being in the gym every day with an elite strength and conditioning coach and nutritionist seemed like the best for me.”
So if everything goes according to plan, Buffalo will have a beast of a left winger once Murray is finished in the NCAA. He's already got the instincts to be a handful.
“I like to work the puck down low in the corners," he said. "Use my size and skill to create space for my linemates and myself.”
And with the World Jr. A Challenge coming up in Bonnyville, Alta., Murray is proof of what that tournament can do for a prospect that isn't necessarily on the mainstream radar. Murray played for Canada East last season and soaked in everything he could from international duty.
“I really enjoyed it," he said. "It was an excellent experience, matching myself up against top prospects from other countries and even my linemates.”
In The Pipeline
Sergei Zborovskiy, D (NY Rangers): Games don’t get much better than the seven-pointer Zborovskiy hung on poor Prince Albert in his Regina Pats’ 12-2 destruction. The big-bodied defenseman was all over the place, jumping into scoring positions and getting pucks to the net. He has also been invited to Russia’s final world junior camp.
Carter Hart, G (Philadelphia): It seems like I’m mentioning Hart a lot lately, but I can’t help it because he refuses to give up goals. Using structure and technique, the favorite heading into Canada’s WJC camp posted three straight shutouts before Medicine Hat finally dented the armor in his most recent game. Hart still got the win, though.
Guillaume Brisebois, D (Vancouver): Canada has a lot of options on the blueline, so it will be interesting to see if Brisebois can snag a spot. The Charlottetown Islanders rearguard has great size and skating ability, helping him to 17 points through 23 games. But he can also use his tools to shut players down and that might be his key to making the world juniors.
Henrik Borgstrom, C (Florida): He’s been great all year for NCAA Denver, but the announcement of Finland’s world junior roster gives us another reason to mention the speedy and talented freshman. Borgstrom has 16 points through 14 games with the Pioneers and Finland will need his offense with so many big names from last year’s squad unavailable.
Caleb Jones, D (Edmonton): Team USA named its preliminary world junior roster on Monday and it's looking like a solid crew. But who will step up on defense with so many options? Jones is one candidate, as his combination of physicality and skill make him dangerous. The Portland Winterhawks rearguard has an impressive 25 points in 28 WHL games this year.
2017 Draft Stars
Robert Thomas, C – London Knights (OHL): Thomas had one heckuva coming out party on the weekend, racking up five points for the Knights in a 6-2 win over Flint. Strong on his skates and blessed with some fantastic offensive moves, Thomas now has 30 points in 27 games on a deep team.
Owen Tippett, RW – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): There is so much to like about Tippett’s game, from his size (6-foot-2, 204 pounds) to his skating to his shot. All of those were in full gear against Ottawa on the weekend, where Tippett popped in four points in a 6-3 victory.
Lias Andersson, C – HV 71 (SHL): One of three draft prospects to make Sweden’s final WJC camp roster, Andersson plays an excellent two-way game and already has chemistry with Carl Grundstrom and Elias Pettersson on the international stage. Back with HV 71, Andersson is one of the top-scoring junior-aged players in the SHL with eight points in 22 games.
Jayson Dobay, D – Thayer Academy Tigers (Mass. HS): An excellent skater with great offensive instincts, Dobay is a UMass commit and one to watch in the New England prep ranks this season. With six assists in his first three games for the Tigers, his campaign is off to a great start.
Jesse Bjugstad, D – Stillwater Ponies (Minn. HS): When you think of Minnesota high school defensemen, finesse and skating usually comes to mind. But Bjugstad can also play the game with an edge. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has great NHL pedigree (dad Scott, cousin Nick) and has kicked off the season with two goals in two games.
Ben Bishop, Evander Kane, Martin Hanzal, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Dennis Wideman are five players who could move by the deadline, reports say.
The NHL trade deadline is still months away. However, that hasn't stopped some pundits from speculating over which players could be on the block by then.
TSN's Pierre Lebrun lists Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane, Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, and Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman as five who could move by the deadline. It's not surprising, as these players frequently appear in the rumor mill.
LeBrun believes the Sabres are open to moving the 25-year-old Kane, perhaps seeking a top-four defenseman in return. Hanzal, 29, is an unrestricted free agent in July. He could be dealt by the deadline if he and the Coyotes fail to hammer out a deal.
Kane was linked to the Vancouver Canucks, but reports indicate those discussions came to an end last week. Given the latter's off-ice baggage, on-ice struggles and $5.25-million annual cap hit through 2017-18, the Sabres could be forced to lower their asking price.
At 6-foot-6 and 226 pounds, Hanzal is a big-bodied, two-way center many playoff contenders will covet should he hit the trade block. LeBrun suggests he'd be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens, who need more size down the middle.
It's believed the Coyotes want Hanzal to accept a short-term deal so as not to delay the arrival of the promising centers in their system. If he insists on a longer contract, the Coyotes could shop him.
With playoff hero Matt Murray challenging the 31-year-old Fleury for the role of Penguins starting goalie, LeBrun feels there's no room for both of them in Pittsburgh. He wonders if the Calgary Flames or Dallas Stars might come calling. The Penguins can only protect one goalie in next June's expansion draft and they don't want to lose Murray.
Fleury was linked to the Flames and Stars last summer, though the Penguins apparently sought a significant return. With both clubs once again struggling between the pipes, Fleury could become an attractive option, provided he's willing to waive his no-trade clause. If they pursue him, they must shed a goalie to make room for his $5.75-million annual cap hit.
Like Hanzal, the 30-year-old Bishop is eligible for UFA status in July. With Andrei Vasilevskiy's new three-year contract kicking in next season and talk of the Flames coming close to acquiring Bishop last summer, it's no wonder LeBrun thinks he could get moved by deadline day.
Trading Bishop, however, is no certainty. Earlier this season, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he was willing to keep his current goalie tandem intact for another run at the Stanley Cup this season. But if the Lightning are in need of depth elsewhere by the trade deadline, Bishop could be a useful bargaining chip.
If the Flames are out of playoff contention by the end of February, LeBrun speculates they could try to move Wideman. He's also due for UFA status in July and is a top-four blueliner with a right-handed shot. Factor in his experience, and there should be interest in Wideman as a rental player.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.