BS Meter on Latest NHL Trade Rumors

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2022

BS Meter on Latest NHL Trade Rumors

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    All of a sudden, the needle has moved.

    The teams are back from a holiday break. The Winter Classic is in the rearview mirror. And executives across the league are starting to ponder exactly what it will take for them to take part in a summertime parade—or simply to keep their jobs come season's end.

    A key date in that process is March 21—the trade deadline.

    And though it's still better than two months away, there's no doubt that the deals that will take place in the final hours leading up to it are in the germination stage as we approach mid-January.

    Some moves will be expected. Some will be stunning. And let's face it, some buzz will contain plain old B.S.

    Which can only mean one thing: It's B.S. Meter time!

    The B/R hockey team got together to scan the up-to-the-minute rumors in order to apply a tag indicating how close each suggestion is to happening.

    Read on to see what we came up with, and let us know how we did with a line or two in the comments section.

Jakob Chychrun Departs the Desert

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    This just in: The Arizona Coyotes aren't very good.

    They had the fewest points in the league (17) entering Saturday night's games, were 10 points behind the next nearest Central Division contemporary (Chicago) and had surrendered more goals (124) than any team.

    The idea that they're tanking the season in order to fast-track a rebuild isn't a novel one.

    But given that they're still neck-and-neck with the Montreal Canadiens in the chase for the NHL's basement, it may take a few more personnel moves to guarantee things don't get too good in Phoenix.

    Enter—or in this case, exit—Jakob Chychrun.

    The 23-year-old Florida native was a first-round pick of the Coyotes in 2016 and has been an NHL regular since, logging at least 50 games in each of last five seasons. He had 18 goals and 41 points in 56 games during 2020-2021's abbreviated schedule, and earned 19 top-five votes in finishing 10th in Norris Trophy balloting.

    This season hasn't been quite so prolific, but the fact that he's still a mobile defender who stands 6'2" and weighs 220 pounds—not to mention he's signed through 2024-25 at $4.6 million annually—makes him a prime target for teams looking to add a proven, left-shot blueliner for the stretch run and playoffs.

    It'll likely take a significant haul of draft picks and young players to get it done, which eliminates as many teams as not, but that doesn't lessen the probability that at least one general manager will ring up Arizona's Bill Armstrong with an offer he can't refuse—perhaps Boston's Don Sweeney.

                 

    B.S. Meter: Not B.S.

    Maybe it's the Bruins. Maybe it's another team.

    But it will be far more shocking if Chychrun stays than if he goes.

Flyers Say Goodbye to Their Captain

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    Elsa/Associated Press

    Claude Giroux is a Philadelphia hockey institution.

    Though he's not on the championship level of a Bobby Clarke or the what could have been level of an Eric Lindros, few players in the Flyers' 50-plus-year history have been as consistently productive over a prolonged stretch of years as the center they plucked with pick No. 22 in the 2006 draft.

    He'd played each of his 975 NHL games with the franchise entering Saturday night and was ninth in goals, second in assists and second in points—trailing only Clarke, by the way—on the its high-profile all-time lists.

    Nevertheless, all good things come to an end.

    The Flyers missed the playoffs last season, have already fired a coach this season and entered the weekend sixth in the Metropolitan Division and 24th overall in the league. So while Gritty and the team's most blind-faith supporters might still foresee a run at a first Stanley Cup since 1975, it doesn't look so likely.

    Giroux, meanwhile, is still productive (29 points in 32 games) and happens to be in the final year of an eight-year contract extension signed in 2013 that's paying him $8.28 million per season, both of which make him an ideal candidate to be moved as a rental to a would-be contender at the deadline.

    He said in August that his plan was to play this season without another extension, which means the team is not guaranteed to get anything for him should he decide to become a free agent in the summer. A pre-deadline deal would at least yield something coming back in terms of picks or prospects, both of which ought to perk GM Chuck Fletcher's interest as the retooling process gets under way.

    As hard as it might be to stomach, the New York Rangers have the sorts of capital to swing a deal and they'd certainly benefit for adding another proven offensive performer to the lineup. As difficult as it might be for Fletcher to do business with a divisional rival now, it'll be worse on him if No. 28 walks out on his own later.

                   

    B.S. Meter: Not B.S.

    Again, it may not be the Rangers specifically. But given this season's reality, a move will be made.

John Klingberg Demands His Way from Dallas

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The word is on the street. Apparently.

    The Fourth Period's David Pagnotta suggested that sources have informed him that Dallas defenseman John Klingberg, a veteran in his eighth season on the Stars blue line, has requested a trade.

    The 29-year-old is an alternate captain with the team and has been in the fold since the Stars made him a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft and he debuted in the NHL in 2014.

    He's in the final year of a seven-year deal paying $4.25 million per season and seemed close to signing an extension prior to the 2021-22 season but didn't come to an agreement before play began.

    Now we're not suggesting Pagnotta or his sources are incorrect, but just because a player may request a trade doesn't necessarily mean one will instantly take place (see: Vladimir Tarasenko).

    And considering the Stars are playing well—three straight wins entering Saturday—and within range of a playoff position (four points behind Edmonton with four games in hand), it's probably not a priority for GM Jim Nill to deal a stalwart who's averaging better than 20 minutes per game.

    Whether he'll wind up with a long-term deal in Dallas is certainly a question, but the guess here is that unless a particularly tantalizing offer arrives, Klingberg will be a Texan for at least five more months.

                  

    B.S. Meter: B.S.

    Could he extend his career elsewhere? Certainly. But it won't be anytime soon.

The Oilers Stop the Bleeding

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    John Munson/Associated Press

    It's been a difficult six weeks in Edmonton.

    Lest anyone forget, the Oilers had the best points percentage in the league and were 16-5 after a 5-2 defeat of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 1.

    Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were off to MVP-like starts. The power play was producing at video-game rates. And the goaltending of Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner was good enough to offset the loss of Mike Smith to injury after just a handful of games in October.

    Well, you know the rest.

    The Oilers have won just two of 13 games since, McDavid and a flock of teammates have entered COVID-19 protocol in recent days and Smith returned for just three games in before returning to the shelf.

    It's gotten so bad that coach Dave Tippett is the source of hot-seat chatter, which means GM Ken Holland is certainly on the clock to make a season-saving maneuver.

    Make no mistake, there are a lot of areas to address—with top-four defenseman and bottom-six forwards certainly among them—but no area screams quite as loudly for addressing, or draws quite as much attention from an angst-ridden fan base as the goaltending.

    Koskinen has never been stellar in a No. 1 role and has the 3.19 goals-against average this season to prove it, and Skinner showed flashes during a 10-game run through mid-December but may not be ready to be a full-time guy either. And considering Smith will turn 40 the day after the deadline, it's no stretch to suggest the net is the easiest place for Holland to make a paradigm-shifting play.

    Problem is, the Oilers don't have the cap room or the future capital to secure a Marc-Andre Fleury, so don't be surprised if Edmonton makes a run at New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev, who's just 25, is finishing a two-year deal paying him $4.85 million and has stopped all but 13 shots in his last five appearances while making 142 stops—a .916 save percentage that betters both Smith and Koskinen.

                          

    B.S. Meter: Not B.S.

    If Holland doesn't make a deal, and quickly, Tippett may not be the only one hearing chatter.

Tomas Hertl Heads to a Contender

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The San Jose Sharks are among the NHL's biggest surprises this season.

    The team entered Saturday in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, where it trailed Edmonton by a single point for the final wild-card berth after finishing 26th overall in a 31-team league last season.

    And Tomas Hertl, a first-round pick in 2012 now in his ninth season with the team, is a big reason.

    The Czech center has 17 goals and 28 points in 35 games in 2021-22 and has scored more goals since the start of the 2017-18 season than any player who's suited up with a Sharks logo on his sweater.

    Alas, it's still a business.

    Hertl is in the final year of a contract paying him $22.5 million over four seasons and, regardless of standings position, it won't do San Jose GM Doug Wilson any good to keep Hertl for a feel-good playoff appearance if he walks out in the summertime with nothing coming back.

    Wilson has been busy at the deadline in the recent past, sending Devan Dubnyk to Colorado last season and both Brenden Dillon (to Washington) and Patrick Marleau (to Pittsburgh) away in 2020 in exchange for future capital. In fact, Noah Gregor, a center who's played 19 games this season, was drafted with the fourth-round pick acquired in a 2015 deal with the Rangers when San Jose was still on the postseason bubble.

    So given that reality, it becomes less a question of if than when, and with whom.

    A recent piece by B/R's Lyle Richardson laid out five potential destinations, and it'd be no surprise if Hertl winds up with any of them before springtime officially arrives. Put us down for Colorado as the eventual winner of the sweepstakes, unless Wilson signs his man in the meantime or decides to roll the dice.

                      

    B.S. Meter: Not B.S.

    If the Avs land him to go with Nathan MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri, go ahead and stake out early-summer parade spots in Denver.

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