(Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images)
Mikkel Boedker is among the Coyotes leading scorers but is eligible for UFA status in July. He could be a desirable asset in this summer's free-agent market.
As the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches, contract negotiations between the Arizona Coyotes and right winger Mikkel Boedker could soon reach a crucial stage. Boedker, 26, is among the Coyotes leading scorers and in his playing prime. He's also eligible for UFA status in July. Given his youth and offensive skills, he could be a desirable asset in this summer's free-agent market.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the Coyotes want to re-sign Boedker, but could shop him if a deal isn't possible. He claims they are “aggressively evaluating” the winger's trade value.
McKenzie's colleague Pierre LeBrun suggests Boedker could be a good fit with the Chicago Blackhawks, who seek a left winger for Jonathan Toews' line. He also speculates the Pittsburgh Penguins could be another suitor.
While Boedker usually skates at right wing he can also play effectively on the left side. That versatility, combined with his offensive skills, could also be attractive to the Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils.
If the Coyotes put Boedker on the trade block, they won't just give him away. McKenzie notes the return they received from the Chicago Blackhawks at last year's deadline for center Antoine Vermette (a first-round pick and young defenseman Klas Dahlbeck), suggesting it's an indicator of their potential asking price for Boedker.
Speaking of the Blackhawks, their demotion of veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi has many observers assuming GM Stan Bowman is clearing cap space in anticipation of a move or two by the trade deadline. The 'Hawks free up $950K, giving them over $3.8 million in salary-cap room by deadline day.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus notes the recent illness that sidelined rookie winger Artemi Panarin and right winger Marian Hossa's current leg injury highlights the Blackhawks' need for a top-six winger. He also points out Erik Gustafsson's inconsistent performance also indicates they could use another experienced top-four defenseman.
Lazerus believes the Blackhawks can only afford to suitably address one of these issues, suggesting the wing position takes priority. While wingers like the Coyotes' Boedker, the Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd and the Calgary Flames' Jiri Hudler could become playoff rental players, Lazerus speculates Bowman could seek more affordable options like former Blackhawk and current Carolina Hurricane Kris Versteeg or P-A Parenteau of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the recent past, Bowman's made moves at the trade deadline to bolster his club's depth for the playoffs. While he was willing to part with a first-round pick and Dahlbeck last year, he could be more frugal this season.
CANADIENS' WEISE COULD BE MOVED
The ongoing decline of the Montreal Canadiens is stoking anticipation they'll be sellers at the trade deadline. If so, don't expect a blockbuster move. GM Marc Bergevin will likely put his pending UFAs on the market, with right winger Dale Weise holding the most value.
Weise, 27, is a hardworking, physical forechecker who can chip in offensively. TSN's Darren Dreger reports there's been little contract talk between Habs management and the winger's agent.
Dreger believes Weise will attract interest if he hits the trade market. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman speculates the Anaheim Ducks could “kick the tires” on the Habs winger.
MORE RUMOR ROUNDUP:
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.