P.K. Subban. (Getty Images)
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin attempted to squelch recent trade rumors about defenseman P.K. Subban.
Monday was locker clean-out day for the 14 NHL teams that failed to qualify for the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was also time for some general managers and players to field questions from the media regarding their off-season plans.
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin attempted to squelch recent trade rumors about defenseman P.K. Subban. The Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey reports Bergevin said he's not shopping the 26-year-old superstar or other core players such as goaltender Carey Price and left winger Max Pacioretty.
Bergevin, however, didn't state that Subban is untouchable. With the blueliner's no-trade clause kicking in on July 1, his name could resurface in the trade rumor mill by late-June. TSN analysts Darren Dreger and Jamie McLennan suggest Bergevin is merely keeping his options open. While acknowledging he could listen to offers, both doubt that Subban's going anywhere this summer.
COYOTES DON'T PLAN TO DEAL EKMAN-LARSSON
Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc was blunt in addressing speculation his club might offer up defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to whichever team wins the 2016 NHL Draft lottery. TSN's Frank Seravalli reports LeBlanc said there was “absolutely, 100 per cent no potential” his club will move the blueliner for the first-overall pick. Noting the rumor came out of Canada, he asked its originator to “stop whatever you're drinking, whatever you're smoking.”
Having fired Don Maloney as GM, the Coyotes anticipate they'll find his replacement well before the NHL Draft in June. Maloney left his successor with a good core of young talent (Ekman-Larsson and forwards Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder) around which to rebuild. With only $33 million invested in 11 players for 2016-17, the Coyotes could be active in this summer's trade and free-agent markets.
AVALANCHE LOOKING TO IMPROVE DEFENSE
The Colorado Avalanche won't be making any coaching or front-office changes, but GM Joe Sakic said his staff “have to explore different options to see how we can become a better team.” Captain Gabriel Landeskog admits he didn't think anyone on the roster is safe.
Defense was the Avs' biggest weakness last season. Only the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks gave up more shots-against per game. They were also this season's worst puck-possession club. It's been an ongoing problem since 2013-14, one Sakic and company will attempt to address this summer.
SENATORS, HOFFMAN NOT MAKING PROGRESS ON DEAL
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports Senators winger Mike Hoffman had no updates on his contract talks. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, the 26-year-old led the Senators in goals (29) for the second consecutive season.
Garrioch speculates Hoffman could seek a deal comparable to the four-year, $19-million contract of Detroit Red Wings right winger Gustav Nyquist. He could also get between $3.5-$4 million on a one-year deal via arbitration.
Despite Hoffman's offensive stats, his production tends to be streaky. Last month, former GM Bryan Murray said they wanted to evaluate his performance down the stretch to see how it compared with his first-half production. Though he went scoreless in his first six games in March, Hoffman eventually finished with 13 points in as many games.
Still, if Hoffman and the Senators new GM Pierre Dorion fail to hammer out a new deal this summer, Garrioch speculates Hoffman could become a prime trade candidate. If so, they could try movinghim before July to avoid the possibility of an arbitration hearing.
If Hoffman hits the trade block this summer, the New Jersey Devils could come calling. The Bergen Record's Andrew Gross reports Devils GM Ray Shero acknowledged his club's need for scoring depth. Gross believes Shero could address that issue via trades, free agency or perhaps through the draft.
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.