NHL Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Leafs, Roberto Luongo, Stephen Weiss and More
The NHL trade deadline is still 57 days away, but with many general managers unable to address their team's weaknesses from within the organization, expect to see more trades over the next month as teams begin to worry that they will fall out of the playoff race.
There are six teams that made the playoffs last year currently outside of a playoff spot through the first two weeks of this season. We could see a few of these clubs become more aggressive in pursuing a trade if their struggles continue.
Let's look at the most recent trade rumors from around the NHL.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have started the season 4-5, and according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, they have a goaltender on their radar.
The Maple Leafs have held talks with the Los Angeles Kings about G Jonathan Bernier. That's a move that could make sense for GM Dave Nonis, although, the Leafs aren't the only team interested.
Making a trade for Bernier makes no sense right now since James Reimer is playing well for the Leafs as the team's No. 1 goalie. Some of his stats from a few games don't look very good, but that's because the majority of the defensemen in front of him have played well below par this season.
For example, during Monday night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Leafs defense left Jordan Staal in front of the net all by himself for an easy goal (watch here). There's no reason to have four guys in the corner at one time.
Should the Leafs start Reimer, or pursue a trade?
Reimer is 3-3 with a 2.97 GAA and a .917 save percentage in seven games this season. He hasn't received a lot of offensive support from his team recently, evidenced by the fact that Toronto has scored just one goal in Reimer's last two starts combined. Reimer is under a lot of pressure because he has to play at an elite level for the Leafs to win games consistently since their defense is struggling so much.
Dave Nonis should not acquire Bernier unless the price is low, which is highly unlikely, or if Reimer starts to play poorly and Toronto begins to fall out of the playoff race. If the Leafs want to make a major move for a young goalie, trying to acquire Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks would be the best option.
When Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was spotted at the Verizon Center to watch the Washington Capitals play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, many people assumed he was there to scout players for a potential Roberto Luongo trade.
Since the Penguins already have two No. 1 goalies on their roster, the Capitals were probably the team that Gillis was observing.
However, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that Washington isn't interested in Luongo right now.
Luongo's contract not one WSH wouldentertain. That said, Caps' netminding not sharp of late but will ride it with Neuwirth-Holtby for now.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 4, 2013
Luongo's contract has 10 years left on it, and the Capitals don't need another huge deal on their payroll right now because Alexander Ovechkin is underperforming.
Ovechkin's current deal will run for eight more seasons and has $79 million still to be paid. With that said, Washington would be foolish to take on another expensive, long-term contract that would hurt the team's salary cap flexibility moving forward.
The Capitals would likely make the playoffs with Luongo in net because he is certainly an upgrade over Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, but they don't have the depth at forward or on the blue line needed to make a Stanley Cup run with the 33-year-old goaltender.
Giving up valuable assets to acquire Luongo, whether they are young prospects, NHL players or high draft picks, just doesn't make sense for Washington.
The Florida Panthers have started the season 3-5, and unless they improve over the next 2-3 weeks, we could see general manager Dale Tallon make some moves to acquire some young players and/or draft picks to build for the future.
The player with the best chance to be traded might be top-six center Stephen Weiss. Garrioch has the latest update on the Panthers star:
There is talk C Stephen Weiss, a UFA on July 1, will be gone before the deadline because the Panthers don't have the cash to sign him.
Which team needs Weiss the most?
There's going to be a lot of teams looking for top-six forward help before the April 3 trade deadline, so the Panthers might be able to start a nice bidding war for Weiss over the next few months.
Weiss would be able to make a lot of money and play for a legitimate contender if he tested free agency, so it would be very surprising if he re-signed with Florida before July 5.
The Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators are playoff contenders that should acquire a top-six center before the trade deadline. Weiss would be a good fit on all five of these teams because he can score goals and excel in a playmaking role.
The Phoenix Coyotes have a great opportunity to add a quality top-six forward by trading star defenseman Keith Yandle before the trade deadline.
As a good two-way player with lots of postseason experience, Yandle would be a solid addition to any playoff contender that needs more depth on the blue line.
The Fourth Period has the latest update on the Coyotes star:
In Phoenix, the Coyotes are fielding calls for All-Star Keith Yandle, who has three-years left on his contract beyond this season with an annual salary cap hit of $5.25 million.
The Coyotes' offense is ranked 11th in the league, so scoring goals isn't a huge issue for head coach Dave Tippett.
If young defenseman David Rundblad can step into the lineup and give Tippett another reliable presence on the blue line, the decision to trade Yandle might become easier for general manager Don Maloney.
The 22-year-old defenseman returned to the Coyotes roster this week (via James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail) after spending some time with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. The former first-round pick is a very talented defenseman, but he hasn't lived up to expectations in the early part of his NHL career.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.
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