The Arizona Coyotes shipping goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Minnesota Wild signals the start of their long-anticipated roster rebuild. Following the trade, Coyotes GM Don Maloney told the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan his club wasn't waiting for the trade deadline to make moves, suggesting others could be coming soon.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun believes pending unrestricted free agents Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek will be moved by the trade deadline. He also feels blueliner Keith Yandle could be shopped at the trade deadline or during the off-season.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson also thinks the 33-year-old Vermette could be dealt, as well as winger Martin Erat, who's also eligible for UFA status in July. The Calgary Sun's Randy Sportak included Vermette on his list of potential trade candidates leading up to the March trade deadline.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun believes teams seeking to build up for the playoffs, like the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, could pursue Vermette. Garrioch feels the 28-year-old Yandle will attract interest in the trade market, listing the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks as possible suitors.
NBC Sports' Jason Brough also weighs in on destinations for Yandle. He lists the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild as those in the hunt for the Coyotes' defenseman.
The Bruins were linked to Vermette earlier this season. They could still be interested, though their recent improvement and the addition of rookie David Pastrnak lessens the pressure upon Bruins management to pursue a rental player. Vermette's former team, the Ottawa Senators, are in the market for a top-six forward, but they might prefer someone who will be more than a rental player.
One of this season's leading scorers among NHL defensemen, Yandle will certainly be a hot target in the trade market. As the Coyotes best trade chip, Maloney will set a steep asking price, perhaps a good young player, a top prospect and a first-round pick.
Yandle has a year remaining on his contract, which enhances his trade value but also complicates things. That year makes him more than just a playoff rental player, but it can also make potential suitors leery of giving up good assets for someone who could bolt via free agency next summer.
The Ducks, Stars and Red Wings could be interested in Yandle, but he's a left-handed shot and those clubs lack depth in right-shooting blueliners. A more affordable, short-term option could be the 32-year-old Michalek, who shoots right.
Yandle is a Boston native and could be a natural fit with the Bruins, but his $5.25-million cap hit for next season means they'll have to shed some salary to afford him and still have room to re-sign key players like Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and Reilly Smith.
The Avalanche could be very interested in Yandle. They are believed to be in the market for a top-two defenseman. Some pundits suggest they offer up center Ryan O'Reilly for Yandle.
Erat, who's bounced from Nashville, Washington and Arizona in the past two seasons, won't fetch much of a return. The 33-year-old wing, a former five-time 50-plus point producer, is in decline. Erat's last best season was 2011-12 (58 points) and he's currently on pace for a 35-point season.
Maloney could be keen to get the jump on the trade market by peddling some of his veterans sooner rather than near the trade deadline. The longer he holds onto them, however, the more their trade value should increase.
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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