Much of the recent media-generated trade chatter is focused on St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. But with the March 1 NHL trade deadline only three weeks away, several other notable players are garnering their share of attention.
Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazettespeculates the Canadiens need for depth up the middle could push them toward Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. While Duchene is the best available at that position, Todd doubts Habs management will pay the high asking price of a top-four defenseman, a first-round pick and a top prospect to get him.
The 6-foot-6, 226-pound Hanzal would bring size, strength and two-way skills to the Canadiens forward lines. Todd points out, however, he has a long injury history and isn't a significant point producer. Still, he feels Hanzal could be suitable for the long grind of the playoffs.
Hanzal won't be as expensive to acquire as Duchene, but the Coyotes apparently seek a good young NHL player and either a first-round pick or high-end prospect. They can set a high price because of the limited number of sellers at this point in the trade market. The price could be reduced as the trade deadline nears and more non-contenders go into sell mode.
Long-time Coyotes captain Shane Doan could also finally be on the move. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the San Jose Sharks pursued the veteran right winger for the past several years. He believes the Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are the top-three contenders for the 40-year-old Doan, who apparently doesn't want to move far from his Arizona home.
Anyone pursuing Doan should keep their expectations realistic. While he tallied 28 goals last season, age and the wear and tear of 21 NHL campaigns have caught up to him. He's seeing third-line minutes (15:18) with the Coyotes and on pace for only eight goals and 27 points. Those would be his lowest totals in a non-lockout season since 1998-99.
OILERS MAY BECOME BUYERS
For the first time in 11 years, the Edmonton Oilers are poised to become a playoff club. That's prompting some speculation over whether GM Peter Chiarelli will become a buyer at the deadline.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes Chiarelli could look at affordable rental players. He points out the Oilers GM must ensure he has sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign young stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the near future.
Chiarelli could try to clear cap room by shopping wingers Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot. Friedman believes he's looked into this option but can't find a market for either guy.
Pouliot, 30, has two years remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $4 million. With only 10 points in 50 games this season, it's unsurprising that there's no interest in the veteran winger.
The 26-year-old Eberle also has two years left on his contract and has a more respectable 32 points in 55 games. His $6-million annual cap hit, however, make him almost impossible to move before the deadline.
Unless Chiarelli is willing to pick up a good chunk of their salaries or take back a toxic contract, he probably won't find any takers for Pouliot or Eberle by the deadline. He could have better luck moving one of them in the off-season. He could also leave one of them unprotected in the expansion draft.
SABRES' KULIKOV COULD ATTRACT ATTENTION
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun suggests teams that lose out on the Kevin Shattenkirk sweepstakes could find a suitable alternative in Buffalo Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News also thinks the 26-year-old blueliner could be among several pending Sabres free-agents who could attract interest in the trade market.
Acquired at last year's NHL draft from the Florida Panthers, Kulikov was expected to bolster the Sabres blueline this season. Injuries have hampered his performance and forced him to miss 26 games.
When healthy, Kulikov is a big-minute, puck-moving rearguard. He had decent numbers with the Panthers in last year's playoffs, collecting four points in six games.
Kulikov's a left-handed shot. With many teams seeking right-handers, that could hurt his trade value. But for clubs seeking an affordable rental option, he could be a worthwhile short-term pickup.
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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