While the blizzard of contract signings dominated headlines in the opening three days of the NHL’s 2017 free-agent market, several notable trades also took place.
Missing from the list of trade activity were Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene and Montreal Canadiens left winger Alex Galchenyuk. In recent weeks, they were frequent subjects of increasing trade speculation.
According to The Columbus Dispatch‘s Aaron Portzline the Predators, Bruins, Blue Jackets, and Penguins are reportedly interested in Duchene. The New York Post‘s Brett Cyrgalis notes the Islanders have plenty of draft picks to offer up in a trade, presumably for Duchene.
Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, however, refuses to lower his high asking price. BSN Denver’s Adrian Dater reports Sakic seeks a young, established top-four defenseman as part of the return for Duchene, who has two seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $6 million.
Portzline states Sakic and Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen held lengthy discussions on Duchene throughout July 1. Portzline assumes Jackets blueliner Ryan Murray would be part of the return. He also speculates another roster player, such as Boone Jenner or Cam Atkinson, would also have to be included.
Kekalainen remains determined to land a top-six center, but Portzline said he’s not prepared to gut his roster to do so. The Blue Jackets are also reportedly interested in left winger Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Galchenyuk rumor mill, which churned furiously leading up to, and including, the recent NHL draft weekend, went quiet in recent days. Sporstnet’s Eric Engel speculated the 23-year-old winger’s situation would wait until after Alexander Radulov’s contract status was resolved.
With Radulov signing with the Dallas Stars on Monday, the Habs could be less likely to move Galchenyuk, especially if they cannot find a suitable return in the trade market.
During the Canadiens’ press conference on Sunday announcing Carey Price’s new contract, GM Marc Bergevin said he has money allotted to re-sign Galchenyuk. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports contract talks are ongoing between the two sides.
How much Bergevin has to offer could differ from what the Galchenyuk camp seeks. He’s completed a two-year, $5.6-million contract and has arbitration rights this summer.
Galchenyuk’s role going forward with the Canadiens could also be a factor. While he’s exceeded 40-points in each of the last three seasons (including a career-high 30-goal, 56-point performance in 2015-16), he’s yet to establish himself as a first-line center.
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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