Tyler Myers (Getty Images)
After months of trade talk and the trade deadline near, the Buffalo Sabres could finally be close to dealing defenseman Tyler Myers. In Montreal, the Canadiens want to load up for a playoff run. Elsewhere, the Washington Capitals are looking for help on the wing.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers frequently pops up in this season's rumor mill, with the Anaheim Ducks among the clubs reportedly interested in the 6-foot-8, 219-pound blueliner. The Ducks lack depth in right-handed rearguards and there's a perception the 25-year-old could blossom into a Zdeno Chara clone on a better team.
Recently there's been a notable increase in speculation linking Myers and the Ducks. It began over a week ago when the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claimed Ducks GM Bob Murray had regular talks with the Sabres. On Friday, TVASports' Renaud Lavoie claimed those talks were intensifying, telling WGR 550 the Sabres wanted a defenseman (like Cam Fowler) as part of the return for Myers.
Mark Whicker of the Los Angeles Daily News speculates it could take an offer of blueliner Sami Vatanen and prospect Nick Ritchie, along with either Rickard Rakell or William Karlsson, to land Myers. Whicker feels it could be worthwhile for the Ducks to “stop postponing the future,” especially if that future contains Myers.
The Ducks are denying the “Myers to Anaheim” rumors. Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports Murray, currently in Europe on a scouting trip, denied there's any deals imminent. The club also denied the report tying the 23-year-old Fowler to the Sabres. Stephens believes giving up Fowler would be simply subtracting one top-four defenseman for another.
Sabres GM Tim Murray has frequently stated he's not shopping Myers. Of course, that doesn't mean he won't listen to offers. The Ducks are believed to be seeking a deal to boost their Stanley Cup hopes this season, so it wouldn't be surprising if they are kicking the tires on the big Sabres blueliner.
Such a move, however, must improve the Ducks. Swapping Fowler or Vatanen for Myers could be at best a sideways move, while tossing in one of their young forwards could weaken their depth up front.
That's not to suggest Myers might not end up with the Ducks, but such a move could be considered in the offseason. That will allow management time to evaluate their roster needs following the playoffs to determine if pursuing a big fish like Myers remains a worthwhile move.
MONTREAL LOOKS AT RENTAL OPTIONS
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has shown a willingness to acquire playoff rental players, dealing for Michael Ryder in 2013 and landing Thomas Vanek at last year's trade deadline. With the Canadiens dropping games to bottom feeders like Arizona and Buffalo, there's growing anticipation in Montreal that Bergevin will make a move or two to improve the Habs' hopes for a lengthy playoff run.
RDS.ca’s Francois Gagnon believes Bergevin could target an experienced top-four defenseman like Edmonton's Jeff Petry or Ottawa's Marc Methot. Of the pair, Gagnon thinks Methot could be the best option, as there's a chance the Habs could re-sign him. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson also believes the Canadiens could be in on Petry.
Addressing rumors out of Toronto suggesting the Habs could pursue Buffalo's Myers, Gagnon points out he would be an expensive acquisition in both salary ($5.5-million cap hit) and return. As for a scoring forward, Gagnon suggests New Jersey's Jaromir Jagr's skills and experience could be a good fit with the Habs.
Richard Labbe of La Presse claims the Canadiens are among the clubs interested in Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette. Labbe said the asking price is thought to be a high draft pick and a prospect.
The Canadiens have also popped up as a possible suitor for Winnipeg Jets left wing Evander Kane. With the 23-year-old sidelined for the season by shoulder surgery, they're not expected to make a pitch for him at the trade deadline. The Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey feels the Habs should be wary of Kane, citing his less-than-stellar numbers, his $5.25-million cap hit through 2017-18 and the winger's reputation as a troublesome player.
CAPS SEARCHING FOR WINGER
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson claims the Washington Capitals are “desperate” for a first-line right wing, having tried seven different players at that spot this season. Affordable options could include Buffalo's Chris Stewart or Drew Stafford and New Jersey's Ryder. Matheson claims Arizona's Shane Doan is the one they crave but the Coyotes aren't moving.
Matheson also wonders if Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis called the Capitals to see if they might take back right wing Alexander Semin, who's been an expensive dud for the Hurricanes. He suggests the 'Canes pick up part of Semin's remaining $21 million while offering to take back a contract the Capitals want to shed.
If the Capitals opt to pursue a scoring right winger it won't be Semin, who proved an expensive headache for former GM George McPhee. Current GM Brian MacLellan was McPhee's assistant and undoubtedly has no desire for a Semin redux in Washington.
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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