The contract standoff between defenseman P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens has prompted Internet-based rumors envisioning offer sheet and trade scenarios.
Dave Stubbs of The Montreal Gazette recently dismissed such talk, reporting Subban's agent Don Meehan and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will be meeting near the end of this week for talks Meehan hopes will move things along.
According to Stubbs, Subban wants to be paid what he believes he his worth to the Canadiens, on and off the ice, “preferably, but not necessarily linked to, a long-term deal.”
The Habs, meanwhile, remain “inflexible” with their offer of a short-term “bridge” contract, akin to those signed by goalie Carey Price and left winger Max Pacioretty prior to inking their current long-term deals.
Bergevin has repeatedly stated he has no plans to trade Subban, who maintains his desire is to remain a Hab and cites economics for the lack of progress in his contract talks.
A recent comment by TSN's respected insider Bob McKenzie on the Subban situation provided grist for the rumor mill.
Asked during the intermission quiz segment on Wednesday night's NHL on TSN telecast if the Canadiens would sign or trade Subban, McKenzie said he believed it was ultimately headed toward a trade. He feels they're too far apart on term and dollars ($2.5 million to $3 million per season) to reach an agreement.
If talks deteriorated to the point where Bergevin had to shop Subban, there would be considerable interest around the league, which would land the Canadiens a solid return.
Problem is, Subban is arguably the most popular player on the Canadiens, as well as their best defenseman. Trading him would not only upset their fans, but leave a huge hole on their blueline.
Over the past two decades, Canadiens fans have witnessed too many talented players shipped out of Montreal for various reasons (Chris Chelios, John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, Patrick Roy, Mike Ribeiro, Mikhail Grabovski, Ryan McDonagh) in lopsided deals. They're understandably concerned Bergevin might make a similar mistake with Subban.
For now, both sides appear determined to negotiate a new contract, but the longer this drags on, the more Subban's name will pop up in the rumor mill.
O’REILLY STUCK IN LIMBO
Colorado Avalanche restricted free agent center Ryan O'Reilly recently reached a mutual agreement with his Kontinental League team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, to terminate his contract with the club, sparking speculation he was on the verge of signing a new deal with the Avalanche.
The reason given for O'Reilly's departure was so that he could receive treatment for a foot injury, though the Denver Post's Adrian Dater suspected the KHL’s “transfer deadline protocols” could have been a factor.
Prior to O'Reilly's farewell to Russia, Dater wondered if the recent season-ending knee injury suffered by right winger Steve Downie would put pressure on Avs management to get their wayward center re-signed.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, however, there's been no progress in the seemingly stalled negotiations between the two sides.
Another Avalanche player worth watching is defenseman Shane O'Brien, who was a healthy scratch for their opening three games of the season.
O'Brien, re-signed to a three-year, $6-million contract last summer, doesn't appear out of shape, nor has he said or done anything which would explain his banishment to the press box.
With several NHL teams (Ottawa Senators, LA Kings, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings) reportedly seeking experienced blueliners, O'Brien could become a trade target.
PERREAULT DENIES TRADE REQUEST
Washington Capitals center Mathieu Perreault was forced to clarify his comments following a recent report in Le Journal de Montreal in which he complained about his ice time as the Capitals’ fourth line center.
Perreault told Le Journal he didn't see himself in that role over the next two years (the life of his current contract) with the Capitals, warning his patience had limits. The column seemed to suggest he would demand a change if his situation didn't improve in the coming weeks.
The Washington Times reported Perreault subsequently denied demanding a trade, suggesting his comments were confused in translation.
“If you guys read the article in French it doesn't say that I asked for a trade,” he replied. “Never.”
With Nicklas Backstrom and Ribeiro ahead of Perreault on the Capitals depth chart, he's not going to see more ice time in offensive situations. Barring an injury to Backstrom and/or Ribeiro, he'll have to get used to checking-line minutes.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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 Kukla's Korner.