After bolting from the gate with four consecutive victories, the Vancouver Canucks returned to earth by going winless (0-5-1) in their last six games. A lack of scoring punch is a critical factor. Following Wednesday's 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Canucks are at the bottom of the league in goals per game (1.60).
Unsurprisingly, there's talk Canucks management wants to boost their offense. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports they'd like to add a 20-goal scorer if they can find a trade partner within the next month or two.
This search for a scorer stretches back to the off-season. The Canucks were linked to Buffalo Sabres left winger (and Vancouver native) Evander Kane. However, he's currently sidelined for weeks with fractured ribs.
Finding an available scorer is one thing, but having the trade chips to land one is another. The Province's Patrick Johnston reports the Canucks don't have a lot to offer. He doubts they'll part with promising prospects Thatcher Demko, Brock Boeser and Olli Juolevi.
Thatcher suggest defenseman Chris Tanev could be a trade option. He points to the emergence of Troy Stecher, the club's reluctance to place Alex Biega on waivers and Nikita Tyamkin's unwillingness to accept a demotion as reasons why the 26-year-old Tanev could be available. Stecher, however, was recently demoted to their AHL affiliate in Utica as Tanev returned from injured reserve.
With $1.6 million in salary-cap space, the Canucks can't afford to take on salary. Tanev's annual cap hit ($4.45 million) could prove too expensive for most clubs to absorb right now. As a right-shooting blueliner, however, Tanev could be an enticing option for teams seeking help on defense.
The Boston Bruins could be a suitor. They're in need of blueline depth and Canucks GM Jim Benning used to be the Bruins assistant GM. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman speculates the Bruins could part with forward Ryan Spooner if they can get a good, younger defenseman in return.
With a cap hit of $950,000 ($1.1 million in actual salary), the 24-year-old Spooner would be an affordable option for the Canucks. He's more a playmaker than scorer, but he tallied 49 points last season. For a Canucks club desperate for offense, Spooner could be a worthwhile addition.
FLYERS NEED TO CLEAR CAP SPACE FOR DEL ZOTTO'S RETURN
The Philadelphia Flyers could soon make a move to free up some cap space. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports they must make room for the imminent return of defenseman Michael Del Zotto ($3.75-million cap hit) and forward Scott Laughton ($863,000) from long-term injury reserve.
Last season, Flyers GM Ron Hextall demoted defenseman Andrew MacDonald ($5-million cap hit) to the minors. Doing so again, however, will only free up $950,000, not enough room to accommodate Del Zotto's cap hit.
Friedman said there was a time Hextall might've moved winger Matt Read ($3.625 million). Given Read's improved production this season, he's not so sure the 30-year-old could be dealt now.
If a team has serious interest in Read, Hextall might not have much choice. MacDonald's contract is all but untradeable. There probably isn't much interest in checking-line winger Dale Weise ($2.35-million cap hit) or aging blueliners Mark Streit ($5.25 million) and Nick Schultz ($2.25 million). Hextall's certainly not parting with forwards Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier.
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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