The Blues want to see how sidelined left wing Jaden Schwartz performs when he returns but are still a “primary contender” for Jonathan Drouin.
It’s been a month since the agent for Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Jonathan Drouin revealed his client’s trade request. While the 20-year-old remains suspended indefinitely by the Bolts for refusing to play for their AHL affiliate in Syracuse, GM Steve Yzerman continues fielding trade offers.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes a deal could be “percolating” between the Lightning and the St. Louis Blues. Friedman originally speculated Blues rookie Robby Fabbri could be part of it but has since changed his mind. He also notes the Blues want to see how sidelined left wing Jaden Schwartz performs when he returns later this month.
TSN’s Darren Dreger also considers the Blues a “primary contender” for Drouin. However, colleague Bob McKenzie said their interest appears to have cooled, though he didn’t rule them out as a possible destination for the young left winger. Meanwhile, Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi wonders if Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall might make a pitch for Drouin.
While there’s undoubtedly interest in Drouin around the league, McKenzie claims nothing appears imminent. Considering what’s transpired with the young left winger over the past month, that’s not surprising.
In the second year of a three-year entry-level contract, the only leverage Drouin has is to hold out until he’s traded. While questions will be raised over his character for staging this power play, he knows there’s a market for his services.
Yzerman, however, still has full control of this situation. He’ll trade Drouin, but won’t be rushed into doing so. If it takes until the summer to find the right deal, so be it. With the Lightning currently surging in the Eastern Conference standings, Drouin’s absence isn’t a factor. Yzerman can afford to take his time.
WEST-LEADING BLACKHAWKS STILL LOOKING FOR HELP
The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are currently atop the Western Conference and second in the overall standings to the Washington Capitals. However, there are some areas of concern as they prepare for the final two months of the regular season.
Chris Hines of the Chicago Tribune reports of speculation around the league claiming the Blackhawks seek a top-four defenseman or a top-six forward. Hines believes they’re leaning toward landing a left wing to skate alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
While the Blackhawks are fourth this season in goals, their offense is largely carried by Patrick Kane’s line. Beyond Kane and left winger Artemi Panarin, there’s a significant drop in production this season among their forwards.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was already busy in this season’s trade market. In December, he shipped defenseman Trevor Daley to the Pittsburgh Penguins for blueliner Rob Scuderi, and in January dealt Ryan Garbutt to the Anaheim Ducks for Jiri Sekac. Bowman’s also known for wheeling and dealing near the trade deadline, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s in the market for a rental player or two.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus suggests bringing back Kris Versteeg, who was shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes last September in a cost-cutting deal. As part of two Stanley Cup championships with the Blackhawks, the 29-year-old Versteeg would quickly fit into their system. He’s also eligible for unrestricted free agent this summer, so acquiring him won’t result in long-term salary-cap issues.
While Versteeg recently said he wouldn’t be surprised if he got traded again, that’s not a certainty. The Hurricanes rose up the Eastern Conference standings last month and sit just outside the playoff picture. If they’re in contention by the trade deadline, they could retain Versteeg for a post-season push.
MORE RUMOR ROUNDUP:
- Trade activity on hold while Jets decide on Byfuglien, Ladd
- Decision time looming for playoff bubble teams
- Oilers eyeing defensemen Hamonic, Vatanen
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.).
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