Calling Fact or Fiction on Latest NHL Speculation Early in the 2017-18 Season

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2017

Calling Fact or Fiction on Latest NHL Speculation Early in the 2017-18 Season

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    Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

    The NHL's 2017-18 season is underway. It also means the start of early-season trade speculation involving such notable players as Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene.

    During the offseason, Duchene was a fixture in the NHL trade-rumor mill. His future with the Avalanche remains a hot topic for conjecture.

    It's not just individual players popping up in trade chatter. There's also talk about teams with specific roster issues, such as the New York Rangers, and how they could address them.

    The rumors are entertaining for hockey fans, but how much of it is based on fact or fiction? Read on to find out as we examine the latest notable NHL speculation. You can express your views on this topic in the comments section below.

Are the St. Louis Blues in the Market for a Forward?

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The speculation

    On Sept. 28, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Blues management discussed options for replacing sidelined winger Robby Fabbri. While general manager Doug Armstrong suggested Fabbri's replacement could come from within the organization, the club also reached out to free agent Jaromir Jagr.

           

    Analysis

    Fabbri is out for the season with a knee injury. On Tuesday, Thomas' colleague, Tom Timmermann, reported the Blues failed in their attempt to sign Jagr, who joined the Calgary Flames.

    It appears the Blues will look to within for help. Post-Dispatch columnist Jeff Gordon reported Tuesday that young forward Tage Thompson earned a spot as a top-nine forward. He points out, however, the Blues need him to contribute immediately.

            

    Fact or fiction?

    It's a fact the Blues are banged-up at forward and could use some help. In addition to Fabbri, forwards Alexander Steen, Patrik Berglund and Zach Sanford are also sidelined. Armstrong could offset these absences from within until most of those players return, but he could still keep an eye on the trade market.

Could the New York Rangers Deal for a Center?

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The speculation

    On Sept. 15, Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News reported New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton didn't rule out the possibility of obtaining another center. Gorton admitted he's always looking to improve his roster depth.

             

    Analysis

    At the time of Tasch's report, the Rangers were experimenting with versatile forward J.T. Miller as a center. But on Sept. 25, Newsday's Steve Zipay reported Miller was back on the wing.

    The New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reported Tuesday the Rangers will open the season with rookie Filip Chytil centering veteran wingers Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. The 18-year-old Chytil was impressive during training camp, but it remains to be seen if he can carry that play over throughout the season.

            

    Fact or fiction?

    Fact. The Rangers will take a chance on Chytil, but management will likely keep watch on the trade market for an experienced center. If the youngster struggles in his first NHL season, the Blueshirts will pursue a replacement.

Are the Calgary Flames Shopping Troy Brouwer?

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The speculation

    Rick Dhaliwal of News 1130 in Vancouver took to Twitter Monday, saying he'd heard a rumor that Calgary Flames right wing Troy Brouwer could be traded. He added that he couldn't confirm if the veteran winger was on the block.

           

    Analysis

    Brouwer, 32, is coming off a disappointing season with the Flames. After signing a four-year, $18 million contract last summer, the veteran winger managed just 13 goals and 25 points in 74 games in 2016-17. 

    The Flames' signing of free-agent right wing Jaromir Jagr Monday to a one-year contract pushed Brouwer down the depth chart. That could explain why he's surfaced in the trade-rumor mill. 

            

    Fact or fiction?

    This speculation could have basis as fact and fiction. It's possible the Flames could look to offload Brouwer's $4.5 million annual salary-cap hit. However, they're unlikely to find many takers for an aging winger whose best years are behind him. His no-trade clause this season could hamper any effort to move him.

Will the Vegas Golden Knights Trade Jason Garrison?

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    The speculation

    On Sept. 26, Sportsnet's Rory Boylen suggested Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Jason Garrison could be "a decent trade candidate at this stage in his career."

            

    Analysis

    Entering this season, the Golden Knights carried 10 defensemen on one-way NHL contracts. Boylen cited Vegas general manager George McPhee telling Hockey Central at Noon that he was returning calls from teams interested in acquiring a defenseman.

    Garrison, 32, is eligible in July for unrestricted free agency. In actual salary, he's earning an affordable $2.5 million. However, his $4.6 million annual salary-cap hit could be difficult to move unless McPhee agrees to pick up part of it. Garrison's no-trade clause could also be a sticking point.

           

    Fact or fiction?

    Fiction at this stage of the season. McPhee must free up room on his crowded blue line, but less expensive defenders, such as Colin Miller or Jon Merrill, could prove easier to move. If Garrison is shopped, he'll likely get dealt by the Feb. 26 trade deadline as a playoff rental player.

Are the Columbus Blue Jackets Pursuing Matt Duchene?

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The speculation

    During an appearance Saturday on Edmonton's 630 CHED (via FanRag Sports Network's Chris Nichols), Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said he believed the Columbus Blue Jackets remain "very, very much" in the bidding for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene.

           

    Analysis

    Since last season, Duchene's been the subject of trade conjecture. Friedman felt the Jackets have their interest in the 26-year-old center quite clear.

    The Avalanche, however, seek a significant return. On Sept. 17, The Athletic's Aaron Portzline reported Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray was linked to the Avs in the rumor mill. On Sept. 28, Friedman reported it's believed the Blue Jackets rejected their request to add promising right wing Josh Anderson in any deal for Duchene.

           

    Fact or fiction?

    Fact. The Jackets could use a skilled center such as Duchene, and trade rumors have linked him to Columbus for some time. However, the Avs won't move him until they get an offer to their liking.

          

    Player stats via NHL.com. Salary info via Cap Friendly.