The Biggest Trade Rumor for Every NHL Team
The NHL's March 2 trade deadline is less than a month away. In the coming weeks, hockey fans can expect a significant increase in trade rumors.
Teams comfortably perched in playoff berths will try to bolster their lineups for a Stanley Cup run. Those on the playoff bubble will seek depth to boost their postseason hopes. Those out of contention could attempt to offload pending free agents for young assets.
Here's a look at the biggest trade rumor for every NHL club, with analysis and an outlook of each one. Please feel free to comment below.
The Rumor: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch believes the Anaheim Ducks will step up their efforts to acquire Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. He claims Ducks general manager Bob Murray has held regular talks with the Sabres.
Analysis: Garrioch believes the Ducks have the assets to swing a deadline deal for Myers. On Jan. 12, Sabres GM Tim Murray told NHL.com's Dan Rosen he's had some calls about the young rearguard but he's not shopping him. Tim Murray sees the 6'8", 219-pound Myers as a cornerstone defenseman with the rebuilding Sabres.
Outlook: Unless the Ducks make a huge offer, don't expect to see Myers in a Ducks jersey this season.
The Rumor: During a recent interview with TSN 1200 radio (cited by NBC Sports' Jason Brough), Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney suggested defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (above) might be available.
Analysis: Maloney claimed Ekman-Larsson is a player he would be “very, very reluctant to part with.” Given his team's record, however, he also suggested “everybody is up for grabs.” The 23-year-old blueliner is signed through 2018 and could be a foundation player on the rebuilding Coyotes.
Outlook: Unless Ekman-Larsson requests a trade or Maloney gets an incredible offer, the Coyotes won't trade such a valuable young player.
The Rumor: The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins could still have interest in Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart.
Analysis: The Bruins have tried several players (Reilly Smith, Loui Eriksson, David Pastrnak) on their first-line right wing, and none of them have been a good fit. General manager Peter Chiarelli could seek an affordable rental player for that spot.
Outlook: Shinzawa claims Chiarelli had Stewart on his radar earlier in the season but the asking price was too high. If the Sabres are willing to accept a reasonable return (like a second-round draft pick), Stewart could finish this season as a Bruin.
The Rumor: In a recent interview with WGR 550 (cited by Chris Nichols of Nichols on Hockey), Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray (above) said he's open to trading his two later first-round picks in the 2015 NHL draft.
Analysis: The Sabres are almost assured the first- or second-overall pick in this year's draft. They can afford to part with the first rounders received in trades last season with the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues. Murray said teams needing to shed cap space could be interested in one or both picks.
Outlook: Such a move could occur in the offseason, when teams know for certain what the cap ceiling will be for 2015-16. Still, a non-playoff club looking to offload salary might be willing to part with a good player at the trade deadline for one of those picks.
The Rumor: The Calgary Sun's Eric Francis reports the Flames were in talks about acquiring Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards. Francis believes the Flames would have taken on Richards' expensive contract provided it made sense for them on other levels.
Analysis: One option would be the Kings taking back an overpriced player in return. Another would have the Kings send a young player like Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson, or package a first-round pick and a top prospect with Richards in addition to picking up part of his salary.
Outlook: The Flames were likely testing the Kings to see how badly they wanted to shed Richards' contract. The fact he was demoted to the minors indicates the Kings weren't willing to be squeezed into making a bad trade.
The Rumor: The New York Post's Larry Brooks wonders if the New York Rangers could use defenseman John Moore to land a rental player like Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Andrej Sekera.
Analysis: Sekera is an unrestricted free agent in July. If the Hurricanes fail to re-sign him, they could try to move him at the trade deadline. The 6'3”, 202-pound Moore has good size and at 24 still has room for improvement. He's been a frequent healthy scratch this season.
Outlook: If the Hurricanes fail to get any better offers for Sekera, they could consider Moore as a trade option. Given Sekera's skills, however, the Hurricanes can probably find a better return.
The Rumor: TSN's Bob McKenzie claims the Chicago Blackhawks are among several teams interested in Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette.
Analysis: The Blackhawks have limited cap space and therefore must shed salary before taking on Vermette's remaining salary. ESPN.com's Scott Powers reports Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman doesn't expect to do much at this year's trade deadline.
Outlook: Barring the loss of a key player to a season-ending injury, the Blackhawks won't get into the bidding for an expensive rental player.
The Rumor: TSN's Bob McKenzie believes the Colorado Avalanche will likely trade forward Ryan O'Reilly. With Erik Johnson injured, the Avs are looking for a defenseman.
Analysis: Much will depend upon where the Avalanche are in the standings. They are only four points out of a wild-card berth, and if they remain in the playoff hunt, the pressure to give up O'Reilly for a defenseman could subside.
Outlook: O'Reilly is signed through next season. Barring a phenomenal offer, they'll likely wait until the offseason to field serious trade proposals for the 2014 Lady Byng Trophy winner.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Rumor: Sportsnet's Scott Lewis includes the Columbus Blue Jackets among his list of possible trade destinations for Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel.
Analysis: Kessel would make a terrific addition to the Jackets' offense, particularly if paired with young center Ryan Johansen. The Jackets possess depth in young assets to offer up as trade bait, however, they could balk at his $8 million per season cap hit.
Outlook: Don't expect to see Kessel donning a Blue Jacket anytime soon. He has a partial no-trade clause, and Columbus might not be on his list of preferred destinations. The Leafs could wait until the offseason to move Kessel in hopes of attracting more suitors.
The Rumor: The Dallas Morning News' Mike Heika reports the Dallas Stars could seek big minute-munching defensemen. Heika lists Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Zbynek Michalek of the Arizona Coyotes and Marc Methot of the Ottawa Senators as trade targets.
Analysis: The Stars lack experienced right-handed defensemen. That rules out Phaneuf and Methot, who shoot left. Phaneuf is also under a long-term contract with a partial no-trade clause. Franson, Michalek and Methot will be unrestricted free agents this summer.
Outlook: If the Stars seek a rental blueliner with a right-handed shot, they could pursue Franson or Michalek. They could also seek more affordable long-term options.
Detroit Red Wings
The Rumor: The Detroit Free Press' Helene St. James reports the Red Wings could pursue a quality defenseman with a right-handed shot. Her suggested options include Buffalo's Tyler Myers, Toronto's Cody Franson, Edmonton's Jeff Petry or Carolina's Justin Faulk.
Analysis: Franson or Petry could be their best trade targets. St. James also mentioned Washington's Mike Green but doubts the Capitals deal him to a potential playoff opponent. The Hurricanes won't part with Faulk, who's become their best defenseman. Myers will be too expensive in terms of salary and return.
Outlook: The Wings have adjusted very well this season without a right-handed shot among their top-four defensemen. While it's something they would like to add, they're not under pressure to acquire one.
The Rumor: TSN's Scott Cullen included the Edmonton Oilers on his list of proposed trade destinations for Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards.
Analysis: The Oilers are thin at center, and Cullen suggests Richards could address that need. He acknowledged Richards is in decline, which raises questions about how good a fit he could be in Edmonton.
Outlook: The Oilers had the opportunity to claim Richards off waivers and passed. That's all we need to know about their interest in the fading veteran center.
The Rumor: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun speculates adding offense will be the Florida Panthers priority nearing the trade deadline.
Analysis: The Panthers are among this season's lowest-scoring teams. That could derail their playoff hopes unless general manager Dale Tallon addresses this issue. Tallon could use his depth in prospect defensemen as trade bait, but rival clubs could prefer one of their young roster players.
Outlook: If Tallon's scanning the trade market, he probably doesn't like what he sees. There currently aren't many teams in "sell" mode. Those who are have little to suit the Panthers needs. The market could improve by the trade deadline, but that could be too late to save the Panthers' playoff hopes.
Los Angeles Kings
The Rumor: Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes the Los Angeles Kings were in talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs regarding a swap of Mike Richards for Dion Phaneuf.
Analysis: Friedman speculated the deal fell through because the Kings were reluctant to add Tanner Pearson or Tyler Toffoli in the return to Toronto. The Kings would have given up a key piece of their future in such a deal.
Outlook: The Kings were willing to move Richards in exchange for an expensive (but more productive) player. They obviously aren't desperate, as they demoted Richards to the minors. They could continue exploring trade options, but Pearson and Toffoli are off limits.
The Rumor: Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports the Minnesota Wild are looking at NHL- and AHL-caliber goaltenders. ESPN.com's Craig Custance claims the Wild tried to acquire Buffalo Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth before settling on Devan Dubnyk.
Analysis: Dubnyk's stabilized the Wild's goaltending, winning six of eight games since joining the club. Wild management could be on the lookout for another NHL-capable backup, or an AHL goalie for when they recall Darcy Kuemper from his conditioning stint.
Outlook: Dubnyk's the man for the Wild (win or lose) heading into the final two months of the regular season. Given their crowded crease (Dubnyk, Kuemper, Niklas Backstrom) and barring injury, it's unlikely they'll add another NHL goalie.
The Rumor: TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the Montreal Canadiens are among several clubs with interest in Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette.
Analysis: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has acquired rental players before. He dealt for Michael Ryder in 2013 and stole Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders at last year's deadline. Acquiring Vermette, however, could prove costly as more teams become interested in his services.
Outlook: If Bergevin is willing to offer up struggling forward Lars Eller, the Coyotes could be tempted. It remains to be seen how much the Canadiens GM is willing to part with for someone who could bolt via free agency in July.
The Rumor: Sportsnet's Scott Lewis includes the Nashville Predators on his list of possible trade destinations for Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel.
Analysis: Lewis notes Predators general manager David Poile publicly defended Kessel last month from media criticism. The Leafs winger would be a great addition to the Predators' offense, however, the budget-conscious Poile could be unwilling to take on Kessel's expensive contract.
Outlook: If the Leafs trade Kessel, it'll likely be in the offseason when there could be more teams interested in his services. His partial no-trade clause gives him some control over where he can be dealt. The Predators could be on his no-trade list.
New Jersey Devils
The Rumor: NorthJersey.com's Tom Gulitti believes the New Jersey Devils will soon ship out a number of their pending unrestricted free agents, including Jaromir Jagr, Marek Zidlicky and Michael Ryder.
Analysis: The Devils are toast this season. They are 12 points out of playoff contention and possess one of this season's oldest rosters. Faced with missing the playoffs for the third straight year, the Devils must rebuild.
Outlook: Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello will peddle most of his pending unrestricted free agents, likely for returns of draft picks and prospects.
New York Islanders
The Rumor: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Dallas Stars were among several teams with interest in New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk (above).
Analysis: The Islanders acquired Boychuk from Boston at the start of the season. He's brought stability, experience and leadership to their defense corps. He's an unrestricted free agent in July, which likely sparked some general managers to inquire about his availability.
Outlook: Newsday's Arthur Staple reports the Islanders have opened contract talks with Boychuk. While they risk losing the skilled blueliner to free agency this summer, he is simply too valuable to move at the trade deadline.
New York Rangers
The Rumor: The New York Daily News' Pat Leonard speculates the New York Rangers could shop for a center. He notes Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette could be available.
Analysis: The Rangers need a skilled depth center who's strong in the faceoff circle. Vermette could fill that need. He can also play on the wing and possesses strong two-way skills.
Outlook: Vermette could be a great fit with the Rangers, but the Coyotes might set an expensive asking price. They're in the market for young assets and could seek a good young player or a top prospect. The Rangers could face a costly bidding war to get him.
The Rumor: The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan reports the Ottawa Senators contacted the Arizona Coyotes regarding center Antoine Vermette.
Analysis: Vermette began his career with the Senators, who seek a top-six forward. Murray admits speaking to the Coyotes about Vermette, but talks didn't get far. Brennan's colleague Bruce Garrioch claims the Coyotes wanted promising center Curtis Lazar or a top prospect in return.
Outlook: Don't expect a homecoming for Vermette, as the Senators appear to be out of the bidding.
The Rumor: TSN's Scott Cullen included the Philadelphia Flyers on his list of potential trade destinations for Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards.
Analysis: Richards began his NHL career with the Flyers and had his best seasons with them. Cullen suggests the Flyers offer up overpriced center Vincent Lecavalier or defenseman Andrew MacDonald in a swap of toxic contracts.
Outlook: Despite a change in management since Richards last wore a Flyers jersey, there's little interest in bringing him back to Philadelphia. They didn't bother to put in a waiver claim on the former Flyer.
The Rumor: The Fourth Period includes the Pittsburgh Penguins on its list of possible trade destinations for New Jersey Devils winger Jaromir Jagr.
Analysis: Jagr began his NHL career with the Penguins and enjoyed his best seasons with them. The Penguins have been wracked by injuries this season and could use a boost on right wing.
Outlook: Jagr's NHL career coming full circle would make a great story, but he's probably not a good fit with the speedy Penguins offense. They also have limited cap space and would find it difficult to take on Jagr's remaining salary.
San Jose Sharks
The Rumor: The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons reports he keeps hearing the San Jose Sharks could trade goaltender Antti Niemi by the trade deadline.
Analysis: Niemi is an unrestricted free agent in July and might not be re-signed. Earlier in the season, the Sharks were splitting Niemi's playing time with backup Alex Stalock. A knee injury in November sidelined Stalock for several weeks, and Niemi's seen the bulk of the starts since then.
Outlook: Barring a free fall in the standings, it's doubtful Niemi will be moved. The Sharks are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. It makes no sense to sabotage their chances by trading away their best goalie.
St. Louis Blues
The Rumor: TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the St. Louis Blues are among several teams to express interest in Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette.
Analysis: The Blues are already deep at center. They recently acquired center Marcel Goc from Pittsburgh. Vermette can play on the wing, though he'd have to skate on the Blues third line in that role. They also have limited cap space.
Outlook: The Blues could attempt to load up at the trade deadline to boost their chances for a playoff run, however, Vermette could prove too expensive for the Blues.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Rumor: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports the Tampa Bay Lightning might use winger Brett Connolly (above) as a trade chip to land a defenseman.
Analysis: The Lightning are short two regular defensemen. Matt Carle is out six to eight weeks following abdominal surgery, while Radko Gudas is out for the season with a knee injury. While the Lightning have depth in young talent, they could seek an experienced depth defenseman.
Outlook: Connolly has been slow to develop into a scorer with the Lightning. He could be expendable if they need to add another blueliner. Only 22, Connolly might benefit from a change of scenery.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Rumor: The Toronto Star's Kevin McGran reports a source claims the Toronto Maple Leafs are quietly shopping Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel and others exclusively to Western Conference teams.
Analysis: The Leafs collapse through January has sparked considerable trade speculation about Kessel and Phaneuf. They are both in the first year of expensive, long-term contracts. Players like that usually aren't dealt by the trade deadline. They also possess limited no-trade clauses.
Outlook: If the Leafs trade Phaneuf and/or Kessel, it could happen in the offseason when there are more suitors. Teams will have more cap space and a willingness to spend on expensive talent.
The Rumor: The Buffalo News' John Vogl reports the Vancouver Canucks seek a top-six forward, and it wouldn't be surprising if Zack Kassian were part of the deal.
Analysis: The Canucks are 18th in scoring and battling to maintain a grip on a playoff berth in the Western Conference. With top defenseman Kevin Bieksa sidelined by a hand injury, they could also use another blueliner. The frequently-scratched Kassian is struggling this season and could use a change of scenery.
Outlook: The Canucks could prefer retaining their draft picks and promising young players. Kassian could be the only real trade bait they have to address their needs.
The Rumor: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports the Washington Capitals seek a top-line right wing and wonders if they might have interest in New Jersey Devils winger Michael Ryder.
Analysis: The Capitals could use a proven scorer on the right side. Their top right wings are Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward and Tom Wilson—hard-working players, but lacking natural scoring ability. Ryder's best days are well behind him.
Outlook: Though not a pressing need, Capital management could deal for an affordable rental winger. It's unlikely they'll pursue a fading winger like Ryder.
The Rumor: TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Winnipeg Jets have shown some interest in Toronto Maple Leafs winger Daniel Winnik.
Analysis: The Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe believes adding support to the Jets bottom-six wingers should be the priority of general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. They carry nine defensemen and could use one of them as trade bait.
Outlook: Cheveldayoff rarely makes trades, however, with his club jockeying for a playoff berth, he could be motivated to swap one of his defensemen for a winger like Winnik.