Jonathan Drouin’s situation has the Lightning under the microscope, but the trade deadline could see some big names on the move. The Penguins could consider moving Phil Kessel, while the Bruins’ Loui Eriksson may be pricing himself out of Boston.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s suspension of unhappy left wing Jonathan Drouin has observers wondering about the effect this will have upon his trade value. Prior to suspending the 20-year-old over his refusal to play in the AHL until his trade request is honored, between 12 to 15 clubs reportedly had varying degrees of interest in the youngster.
Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh claims the Lightning informed them a trade was close to completion, prompting their request that he no longer participate in AHL games to avoid injury. According to The Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson, that drew an icy denial from GM Steve Yzerman. “We never said that there was a pending deal or a deal close,” said Yzerman.
The Lightning GM still claims trading Drouin is a priority, but it doesn’t put additional pressure upon him to get a deal done. Yzerman didn’t rule out a reconciliation, but that appears remote right now.
Staging a holdout is the only card the Drouin camp has to play. He’s in the midst of an entry-level contract through 2016-17. However, his actions could hurt his trade value, raising questions about his character.
PENGUINS SHOULD CONSIDER KESSEL MOVE
Right wing Phil Kessel isn’t having the positive offensive impact the Pittsburgh Penguins envisioned when they acquired him last summer from the Toronto Maple Leafs. A five-time 30-goal scorer, the 28-year-old is on pace this season for around 25 goals and 50 points.
SI.com’s Allan Muir notes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford’s recent dealing of left wing David Perron to the Anaheim Ducks for Carl Hagelin was essentially his admission that acquiring Perron a year ago was a mistake. Muir suggests Rutherford should do the same with Kessel, pointing to clubs like the Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild are in need of scoring punch.
Easier said than done. Kessel’s contract is a significant stumbling block. Even with the Leafs picking up $1.2 million of his $8-million annual cap hit, the Penguins are still carrying $6.8 million. That’s not easy to move during the season.
Factor in Kessel’s offensive difficulties this season and his reputation (deserved or not) as a lazy, one-dimensional player, and trading him becomes more difficult. For better or worse, Kessel and the Penguins appear stuck with each other for the remainder of this season.
ERIKSSON PRICING HIMSELF OUT OF BOSTON?
In the coming weeks, Boston Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson could garner considerable attention in the rumor mill. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the Bruins opened preliminary contract talks with the 30-year-old, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
Completing a six-year, $25.5-million contract, Eriksson is enjoying his best season in years. He’s within range of 30 goals and 70 points, becoming an invaluable two-way player for the Bruins in their quest to nail down a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Eriksson’s asking price, however, could determine if he has a long-term future in Boston. Dreger speculates his camp could seek a five-to-six year deal around $6 million annually.
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty believes that could be too expensive for the Bruins, suggesting they could peddle him for a defenseman like St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk. Dreger thinks the Nashville Predators could be a destination.
DUCKS STILL LOOKING TO ADD
Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray continues to tinker with his roster. Earlier this month, he swapped Hagelin to the Penguins for Perron and minor-league defenseman Adam Clendening. On Thursday, Murray shipped struggling young winger Jiri Sekac to the Chicago Blackhawks for rugged forward Ryan Garbutt.
Neither of those moves, however, suitably address the Ducks’ anemic offense. Hagelin and Perron had basically the same stats before their trade. Garbutt provides grit but isn’t much of a scorer.
Before the Sekac-for-Garbutt swap, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted the Ducks were in the market for young forwards and could draw upon their blueline depth as trade bait. With Simon Despres and Cam Fowler expected to return to the lineup soon, and young Shea Theodore proving he belongs in the NHL, the Ducks are overloaded with young defensemen.
For weeks, there’s been considerable speculation suggesting Murray could move a young d-man or two for a proven top-six scorer. If the Ducks fail to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff chase, he could pull the trigger for either a rental player or a longer-term acquisition before the trade deadline.
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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