Patrick Marleau. (Getty Images)
NHL pundits doubt long-time Sharks star Patrick Marleau would be dealt to California rivals like Anaheim and Los Angeles.
A recent report claiming San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau would agree to be dealt to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers attracted swift reaction from several NHL pundits.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman (who first broke the Marleau trade rumor story), TSN's Bob McKenzie, SI.com's Allan Muir, and the San Jose Mercury News' Mark Purdy doubt the long-time Sharks star would be dealt to California rivals like Anaheim and Los Angeles. Purdy believes Sharks GM Doug Wilson would never ship Marleau to those clubs unless the deal was so overwhelming he simply couldn't refuse. Don't hold your breath expecting that deal to materialize.
The four pundits also cited the Rangers limited cap space, noting there's no indication they have serious interest in Marleau at this time. The New York Post's Larry Brooks was dismissive, calling Marleau “the wrong player at the wrong time for the Rangers.”
Friedman, McKenzie, Muir, and Purdy also note the Ducks, with a payroll well below the league's $71.4 million cap ceiling ($64 million), could afford Marleau's $6.6-million salary. Friedman claims Ducks GM Bob Murray is good friends with Sharks GM Doug Wilson. Still, the Ducks' have a self-imposed cap ceiling. Even if a Marleau-to-Anaheim deal was possible, it's unlikely the latter will give up assets for an expensive, aging star who won't fit into their long-term plans.
For his part, Marleau declined to comment on the speculation. Indeed, he wouldn't even say if he wanted to remain with the Sharks. Make of that what you will, but if he sincerely wants a trade, he'll have to broaden his trade destination list.
McKenzie claims some NHL executives believes Marleau could widen that list to include Chicago or Nashville. However, the Blackhawks have even less cap space than the Kings and Rangers. They're in the market for a defenseman, not a forward. Like the Ducks, the Predators are a budget team.
If Marleau truly wants out of San Jose, he could be forced to wait until the off-season. That's when teams have more cap space and a willingness to swing deals for expensive talent.
SAKIC SEEKING HELP FOR AVALANCHE
The Colorado Avalanche are off to another disappointing start. With a record of 6-9-1, they're hovering near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Bleacher Report columnist (and former Denver Post hockey reporter) Adrian Dater reports hearing talk in recent days of Avalanche GM Joe Sakic calling around the league seeking help for his struggling club. While Sakic doesn't intend to blow up his roster, he admits he's always willing to listen about anybody on his roster. However, any move he makes will be for the long term.
Some players, like Jarome Iginla, have no-movement clauses and thus the final say on any potential moves. Iginla told Dater he won't approve any trade this season, citing family reasons. Younger stars, like center Matt Duchene and goaltender Semyon Varlamov, don't have that luxury. Dater suggests both could be available for the right price.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports Sakic recently contacted Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray to gauge his interest in the 24-year-old Duchene. While Murray is seeking a top-six forward, Dreger doubts there's a fit there. That's because the Senators are a budget team, making it difficult to squeeze Duchene's $6-million annual salary under their self-imposed cap ceiling.
The Avalanche need help on the blueline, but the Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan doubts Sakic will be interested in Jared Cowen or Patrick Wiercioch. Dreger's colleague McKenzie speculates Murray might try to include the contract of demoted winger Colin Greening.
RANGERS NOT TALKING CONTRACT WITH YANDLE
The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports of no contract discussion thus far between Rangers management and defenseman Keith Yandle. Acquired from the Arizona Coyotes by former GM Glen Sather near last season's trade deadline, the 29-year-old Yandle is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Brooks suggests the blueliner's long-term future with the Rangers isn't a sure thing.
The issue is the cost of re-signing Yandle, who's in the final season of a five-year deal worth an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million. Brooks doubts he'll accept a pay cut to remain in New York. The Rangers currently have $52.7 million invested in their 2016-17 payroll. While that's more than enough to re-sign Yandle, it won't leave sufficient room to re-sign other key players. Among the notables are restricted free agents Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller and Antti Raanta.
With nearly $16 million invested for next season in Marc Staal ($5.7 million), Dan Girardi ($5.5 million) and captain Ryan McDonagh ($4.7 million), Brooks believes it defies logic for the Rangers to sign another defenseman for over $5.5 million. With the potential riches of free agency beckoning next July, Yandle is unlikely to accept less than that.
Making this situation stickier for the Rangers is what Sather gave up the Coyotes to land Yandle. Part of the return was a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2016 and winger Anthony Duclair, who was then a promising prospect. This season, Duclair is among the Coyotes' leading goalscorers. If Yandle walks, that return could haunt the Rangers for years.
Brooks also reports there's no urgency on either side to talk contract now, adding there's no indication the Rangers could move Yandle by the trade deadline. He suggests that could be made easier if Yandle isn't performing well by that point.
If Yandle helps the Rangers win the 2016 Stanley Cup, losing him to free agency in July will be considered an acceptable loss. Otherwise, it could leave a stain on Sather's legacy with the Blueshirts.
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.).
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