Tomas Plekanec isn’t scoring quite like he used to and that’s an issue with the veteran carrying a $6-million cap hit. Meanwhile, the Wild might be forced to make a hard choice on the blueline with expansion looming.
After putting up 60 and 54 points over the last two seasons, Montreal Canadiens second-line center Tomas Plekanec’s numbers are down considerably this season. With only 19 points in 42 games, the 34-year-old’s on pace for a 37-point campaign. That would be his lowest in a non-lockout season since his 39-point effort in 2008-09.
That drop in Plekanec’s production sparked some questions about his future in Montreal. On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported “there’s a sense” he could be available at the March 1 trade deadline if his production doesn’t improve.
Kypreos’ colleague Elliotte Friedman, however, thinks that could be a difficult decision. He notes Plekanec remains Canadiens coach Michel Therrien’s top defensive center, pointing out no one on the Habs has taken more defensive-zone faceoffs this season.
Even if the Canadiens opt to move Plekanec by the deadline, his contract is a tough sell. Though he only has one year remaining, the annual average value is $6 million. Not many teams will come calling for a declining center in his mid-thirties carrying that expensive salary-cap hit.
WILD MAY HAVE TO DEAL WITH LOST DEFENDER
The Minnesota Wild possess considerable depth on defense. However, they risk losing a blueliner in this summer’s expansion draft.
As per expansion draft rules, veteran Ryan Suter’s no-movement clause ensures he must be protected. Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Matt Dumba all lack movement clauses. Even if the Wild opted to protect the maximum of four defensemen, one of them could still be plucked away by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Rather than lose a defenseman for nothing to the expansion draft, there’s some talk that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher might move one of those rearguards to bolster his depth at center. However, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Fletcher won’t be moving a blueliner before the trade deadline.
Fletcher could be resigned to the fact he’s going to lose a good young defenseman at the expansion draft. He will have a narrow window of opportunity to perhaps trade one of them before he has to submit his list of protected players before 5 p.m. ET on June 17.
UPTICK IN SCORING BENEFITS BRUINS, SPOONER
It’s been over a month since Boston Bruins center Ryan Spooner last appeared in the trade rumor mill. In early December, there was some media trade chatter claiming the Bruins could listen to offers for the 24-year-old.
After netting a career-high 49 points in 2015-16, Spooner has only 21 points in 43 games this season. Since Dec. 12, his production has shown signs of improvement, netting 12 points in 15 games.
Despite that uptick in his offense, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported Sunday there’s talk the Bruins could shop Spooner for a defenseman. His third-period benching during the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes won’t quell the trade rumors.
Given the Bruins’ limited secondary scoring, they could hang onto Spooner for the remainder of the season. If his production keeps improving, he could provide the Bruins with vital offensive depth in their quest for a playoff berth.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.