In today’s NHL Rumors coverage, we look Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston’s early-season trade candidate list and who was claimed off waivers yesterday. Plus, New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton made comments regarding Chris Kreider’s extension talks.
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Sabres Holding Onto Ristolainen?
At the top of Johnston’s trade candidate list is Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Over this summer it seemed that moving the Finnish blueliner was a foregone conclusion after there was speculation that he had requested a trade. However, now on the cusp of the regular season, he is still a member of the Sabres. But that doesn’t mean Ristolainen will end the 2019-20 season in Buffalo. As Johnston points out, after the Sabres added Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju over the offseason, Ristolainen is even more expendable.
All three are right shots and because Ristolainen has the most trade value of the three, he’d make the most sense to deal. However, due to Brandon Montour’s injury to start the season, it’s unlikely Ristolainen will be moved for the time being. But, if the Sabres struggle early on or they find themselves needing forward help, he could be a prime candidate to be dealt. A return for him could be sizable given his abilities with the puck and the fact that he’s signed through 2021-22 at a reasonable $5.4-million cap hit.
Will the Predators Shop Turris?
After the Nashville Predators gave up two prospects and a draft pick to acquire Kyle Turris in Nov. 2017, expectations were high. The Predators then handed him a six-year, $36-million contract with the goal in mind that he’d be their second-line center being Ryan Johansen. Instead of him meeting expectations, Turris has been a letdown, with only 20 goals and 65 points in 120 games as a Predator. In the playoffs he’s been even worse, with 1 goal and 5 points in 19 games.
He did have a successful showing at this year’s World Championships, something he’s looking to build off and carry into 2019-20. The Predators are also giving him every chance to excel by giving him a shot on Johansen’s wing on the top line.
“I played pretty good at Worlds,” Turris recently said. “Had a good summer. I can tell you it’s not lost. I know how I can play and how I need to play. Being on the wing is a new position I’m excited about.”
from ‘Is breaking up JoFA line hard to do for Peter Laviolette? We’ll soon find out,’ The Tennessean, 09/25/2019
If the reduced responsibilities and increased playing time help Turris find his scoring touch again, it’s unlikely the Predators trade him. Trading even a rejuvenated Turris would cost the team assets or require salary retention, something GM David Poile is unlikely to be interested in doing. It should also be noted that the Predators are in their Stanley Cup window, so making any moves that take them away from that aren’t in the team’s best interest.
Status of Jason Zucker
Someone whose name has been mentioned often in trade discussions in recent seasons is Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker. Last season he was nearly traded to the Calgary Flames and this offseason he was the main piece going to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Phil Kessel trade. Neither happened. Now, entering 2019-20, Zucker is coming off a down season (21 goals, 42 points) and the Wild have a new GM in Bill Guerin. Does the new GM mean Zucker is less or more likely to be traded?
If their goal is to compete this season, keeping him would be the smart move. However, if the Wild are interested in bringing in a top-six center, an impactful player will have to go the other way and Zucker is the most obvious candidate. There’s also the chance that the Wild struggle to start the season and cause them to divert from their goal of competing. Considering his reasonable $5.5-million cap hit through 2022-23, Zucker would be of interest to many teams if he is available.
Will Tanev Trade Talks Heat Back Up?
Another player who has been in trade rumors in recent seasons is Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev. As a right-shot blueliner, he holds a ton of value, especially with his $4.45-million cap hit. The biggest knock on Tanev is that he’s been injury prone, with a career high of 70 games played, which occurred in 2014-15.
Tanev has only been able to suit up for more than 55 games in a given season three times during his nine-year NHL career.
However, since he’s an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at season’s end, he could be one of the most attractive options on the rental market at this season’s trade deadline. Considering that the Canucks are on the upswing and have a solid crop of young defensemen led by Quinn Hughes, Tanev may be expendable for the team as they look to continue to acquire young, controllable assets.
No Conversations on Kreider Extension
Newsday’s Colin Stephenson recently reported that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said that there have been no extension talks with veteran forward Chris Kreider. The 28-year-old winger is a UFA next summer and has been a consistent scorer throughout his career with four 20-goal seasons, including a career-high 28 in 2018-19.
Given how the Rangers have dealt veteran pending free agents in recent seasons (see Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes), it appears more and more likely that Kreider will be traded at some point this season. The Rangers have an excellent group of young forwards, so much so that Kreider may get squeezed out. As Johnston states:
It was a surprise when they (Rangers) dealt Zuccarello but if Kreider, the team’s oldest forward, gets moved this year it won’t be such a shock.
After there were notable names placed on waivers yesterday, including Daniel Sprong, Casey DeSmith, and Thomas Hickey, only two players were claimed. One was goaltender Eric Comrie by the Arizona Coyotes from the Winnipeg Jets as the Coyotes look to add to their goaltending depth. The other was defenseman Carl Dahlstrom by the Jets after the Chicago Blackhawks placed him on waivers. Based off how much the Jets defense corps was stripped this offseason, plus the questions surrounding Dustin Byfuglien, it’s obvious why they claimed Dahlstrom.