The Tampa Bay Lightning shipping defenseman Nikita Nesterov last Thursday to the Montreal Canadiens prompted some pundits to suggest more moves could be coming for both clubs.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman speculates Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop could start appearing with more frequency in the rumor mill following the all-star break. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Timesdoesn't expect GM Steve Yzerman to blow up his roster if they fail to gain ground in the playoff chase, but he believes shopping the 30-year-old goalie by the deadline could be worth considering.
Finding a market for Bishop won't be easy. Friedman lists the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues as possibilities. He also mentions the Philadelphia Flyers, but doesn't think they're in the market for a rental goalie.
Smith also points out Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat are restricted free agents this summer. He suggests listening to offers for the 26-year-old Johnson if re-signing him could prove difficult.
Smith's colleague Tom Jones, however, doesn't rule out Yzerman standing pat at the trade deadline. He believes one bad season following three good ones is no reason to gut the roster or replace the coaching staff. Jones cites the high number of injuries the club suffered this season and feels their depth in young talent bodes well for the future.
If the Bolts remain out of playoff contention by the end of February, Bishop's UFA status could make him a trade candidate before the deadline. Should Yzerman share Jones' view, trading Johnson won't be a consideration.
As for the Canadiens, Friedman suggests their acquisition of Nesterov could mean blueliner Nathan Beaulieu might be available. His colleague Eric Engels wonders if GM Marc Bergevin might consider packaging the 24-year-old Beaulieu for a top-six forward such as Colorado's Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog.
Acquiring Duchene remains an expensive and difficult undertaking for any club. TSN's Darren Dreger reports multiple teams, apparently in the double digits, have interest in the 26-year-old Avs center, but the asking price remains high and GM Joe Sakic isn't in a hurry to move him.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Avalanche want at least a top-four defenseman, a top prospect and a first-round pick for Duchene, and perhaps more than that. The Senators are thought to be among the interested parties, but Garrioch said GM Pierre Dorion isn't under pressure to make a significant deal.
Duchene is a talented player, but neither he or Landeskog are worth a king's ransom. Sakic must lower that price if he seriously intends to move either guy before the trade deadline.
EVANDER KANE BACK IN RUMOR MILL
Throughout last summer and into the start of this season, Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane was a hot topic for trade chatter. That speculation faded when the 25-year-old was sidelined by an early-season rib injury, but it hasn't completely died away.
Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News observes the Sabres and Los Angeles Kings recently scouted each other. Harrington suggests the Kings could use a scoring winger, pointing out Kane's improved play in recent weeks.
The Sabes and Kings won't face each other until March 16, so perhaps they're looking at trade options.
The Kings emerge from the All-Star break with a goals-for per game of 2.49, placing them in the bottom third in that category. Without an offensive boost, they could miss the playoffs.
With 14 goals in 37 games, Kane could reach 30 by season's end. He comes with off-ice baggage, but he could thrive under a respected, no-nonsense coach like the Kings' Darryl Sutter. The Sabres are in the market for blueline depth, but perhaps they'll consider a lesser deal to get Kane's $5.25-million cap hit off their books for next season.
With over $6.8 million in prorated trade-deadline cap space, the Kings have the room to take on Kane's cap hit. However, they must also ensure they have sufficient room to re-sign restricted free agent forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson this summer. If they are considering Kane, they could ask the Sabres to pick up part of his cap hit.
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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