Boston Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson remains a hot topic of NHL trade speculation. Eligible for UFA status in July, recent reports claim the 30-year-old could seek a five-year deal worth over $6 million per season. That's too expensive for the Bruins, who could trade Eriksson rather than lose him to free agency in July.
The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa reports the Bruins could try moving Eriksson for a defenseman. While that deal would address a pressing need for the Bruins, it will be difficult replacing a reliable two-way right winger. Indeed, trading Eriksson could adversely affect their playoff hopes.
If GM Don Sweeney is keen to make that move, Shinzawa suggests peddling Eriksson to a club looking to clear salary that's willing to move a defenseman with term remaining on their contract. Shinzawa lists the Winnipeg Jets' Tobias Enstrom ($5.75-million cap hit through 2018), Anaheim Ducks blueliner Kevin Bieksa ($4-million annually through 2018), Calgary Flames rearguard Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million through 2017), frequently scratched Ottawa Senators D-man Jared Cowen ($3.1 million through 2017) and Fedor Tyutin ($4.5 million through 2018) or Jack Johnson (over $4.5 million through 2018) as trade options.
Of these, Enstrom and Johnson might be the most enticing. Wideman's recent 20-game suspension no longer makes him a worthwhile trade target, while Bieksa and Tyutin are clearly fading as effective top-four defensemen. The 6'5”, 238-pound Cowen, 25, is the youngest of this group, but he's struggled to establish himself as a reliable blueliner.
Eriksson, however, also carries a partial no-trade clause, requiring him to submit a list of 14 acceptable trade destinations. It's unlikely the Jets, Blue Jackets, Flames and Senators are on it. If so, Shinzawa's list of options narrows down to just the Ducks.
SCHWARTZ SHOULD BOOST BLUES' OFFENSE
The St. Louis Blues' sagging offense should get a significant boost very soon. Left wing Jaden Schwartz, out since late-October with a fractured ankle, is expected to return to the lineup very soon.
While Schwartz's return should help, Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong continues to scour the trade market for a scoring forward. Recent rumors linked the Blues to suspended Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Jonathan Drouin.
Rutherford also reports of several veterans believed available leading up to the trade deadline. His list includes Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Scott Hartnell, New Jersey Devils right winger Lee Stempniak, Winnipeg Jets' left winger Andrew Ladd, Boston Bruins right winger Loui Eriksson, Calgary Flames right winger Jiri Hudler and Carolina Hurricanes left winger Kris Versteeg.
If Armstrong seeks a short-term option, pending UFAs like Stempniak, Ladd, Eriksson, Hudler and Versteeg could be his targets. Hartnell is 33 and carries a $4.75-million annual cap hit through 2019. Drouin is certainly promising and on an affordable entry-level contract, but he's yet to establish himself as a reliable offensive player.
Schwartz's return and his impact upon the Blues' offense will determine if Armstrong feels the need to pursue a playoff rental by the trade deadline.
Speaking of teams in need of offensive help, the ongoing decline of the Minnesota Wild is increasing the likelihood that GM Chuck Fletcher will make a move before the deadline. The Wild enter this week with only one win in their last 10 games. Over that stretch, they managed only 16 goals, tallying two goals or less in seven of those games. The Wild now rank among the league's lowest-scoring clubs.
It's rumored Fletcher could shop a defenseman for a scoring forward. Reports recently emerged claiming blueliner Jonas Brodin was offered up to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen prior to the Jackets shipping him to the Nashville Predators. Brodin, however, is now sidelined three-to-six weeks with a broken foot. That could shift the focus onto promising Matt Dumba as a trade candidate.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen suggests New York Islanders right winger and Minnesota native Kyle Okposo as a good fit for the Wild. Unless the Wild can free up some cap room, however, Rosen believes the 28-year-old Okposo would only be a rental player.
The Islanders are in the midst of a tough battle for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Okposo is currently among their leading scorers. While the Isles risk losing him to free agency this summer, it's unlikely they'll trade him now.
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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.