Recent reports of discord between winger Evander Kane and his Winnipeg Jets teammates sent a jolt throughout the NHL. It also sent the rumor mill into a frenzy of speculation suggesting the 23-year-old’s days as a Jet are numbered.
Kane’s health, however, could throw a monkey wrench into any plans to move him by the March 2 trade deadline. The club announced Friday he was undergoing shoulder surgery which will sideline him four-to-six months, effectively ending his season. But his injury status failed to dampen trade chatter. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said placing Kane on LTIR doesn’t prevent a trade, claiming some still believe he could be deal by the March 2 trade deadline.
Prior to the announcement of Kane’s surgery, Johnston surveyed several NHL scouts and the consensus is one top asset could be all that’s required to land the winger. TSN’s Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun reported the Jets were listening to inquiries for Kane.
Adam Proteau lists the Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins as possible trade destinations for Kane. Dreger also considers the Ducks, Penguins and Bruins among those who could have interest in the winger, along with the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens. ESPN’s Scott Burnside observes the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly had interest in Kane earlier in the season.
Whether those suggested clubs try to acquire Kane is another matter. The Ducks’ rumored priority is a top-four defenseman and they’ve been linked to Buffalo’s Tyler Myers. The Penguins, Flyers and Bruins have limited cap space this season and next so they’ll have to shed salary to take on Kane’s $5.25-million cap hit.
Kane probably won’t be a good fit in the Montreal fishbowl, where his every move off the ice will become headline news and an unnecessary distraction. Vancouver may be Kane’s home town and the Canucks need offense, but his perceived immaturity might be unsuitable for their rebuilding plans.
The Islanders and Blue Jackets have young rosters and Kane might fit in with them, but both clubs are traditionally budget conscious and could balk at his contract.
It remains to be seen how Jets GM Cheveldayoff handles this situation. He has resisted the temptation to move Kane in the past but this recent incident could the last straw. If Kane’s injury status prevents a move by the trade deadline, he could be dealt leading up to the NHL Draft in June.
DUCKS HUNTING FOR MYERS?
TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently listed the Anaheim Ducks among the teams to watch leading up to the March trade deadline. McKenzie speculates the Ducks could try to load up for a Stanley Cup run.
It’s assumed the Ducks could pursue a top defenseman with a right-handed shot. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently claimed Ducks GM Bob Murray held regular talks with the Buffalo Sabres regarding blueliner Myers.
Winger Matt Beleskey could be a trade chip. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claims the two sides aren’t close to a new deal. Beleskey has a career-high 19 goals this season, second only to Corey Perry, and is earning $1.4 million this season.
Beleskey and his agent will obviously try to capitalize on his offensive numbers this season in hopes of getting a substantial raise. If they push too hard, however, Ducks management could use him as bait to address their blueline needs.
AVALANCHE BOLSTERING BLUELINE AFTER LOSS OF JOHNSON
The Colorado Avalanche are believed in the market for a top defenseman, especially with Erik Johnson sidelined three-to-eight weeks to knee surgery.
Mike Chambers of The Denver Post mused over the possibility of the Avs chasing Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf or Cody Franson or Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He concludes the asking prices could be too expensive, suggesting Ekman-Larsson could cost a top-six forward or a top-four defenseman, a top prospect and a first-round pick.
Avalanche winger Ryan O’Reilly is a fixture in this year’s rumor mill as possible trade bait for a top defenseman. If they are shopping O’Reilly they’re likely seeking a player-for-player swap. Some pundits suggest shipping him to the Coyotes for Keith Yandle, not Ekman-Larsson.
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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