Over two weeks ago, the Nashville Predators surprised the hockey world by shipping promising young defenseman Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen. While the 23-year-old Johansen had seven points in his first six games with the Preds, they're still struggling to win games.
Since acquiring Johansen, the Predators enter their Jan. 21 tilt against the Winnipeg Jets with only one win in their last six games. They also fell out of a playoff berth, as offensive depth remains an issue.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports Predators GM David Poile is disappointed with his club's performance thus far. He acknowledged their need for consistent offensive production, adding he's “totally open” to addressing that issue with a trade.
Poile didn't indicate which players he could target to bolster his sagging offense. Rumors have linked Carolina Hurricanes left wing Eric Staal and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin to the Predators.
Staal would simply be a rental player, meaning it could cost Poile at least a draft pick and a prospect to land him. However, the production of the 31-year-old Hurricanes captain has steadily declined in recent years. There's no guarantee a change of scenery will boost Staal's sagging offense.
The asking price for Drouin, 20, is reportedly a defenseman with a right-handed shot plus a young player with term remaining on his contract. Given the young winger's recent suspension by the Lightning and struggles at the NHL level, he won't provide the immediate offensive boost the Predators need right now.
SHARKS STILL QUIETLY TRYING TO DEAL MARLEAU
The revealing of San Jose Sharks left wing Patrick Marleau's rumored list of preferred trade options back in November created a stir in the rumor mill. Since then, trade speculation over the 36-year-old quieted down. However, that doesn't mean it's entirely gone away.
Appearing on TSN's Insiders segment on Jan. 19, Pierre LeBrun claims Marleau's agent continues to quietly work the trade market on behalf of his client with the blessing of Sharks management. Trading him, however, is something LeBrun suggests could more likely happen in the offseason.
It's believed the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are Marleau's preferred destinations. It's doubtful the Sharks will ship him to a California rival, especially during a very tight playoff race in the Pacific Division.
As for the Rangers, they lack the cap space to take on Marleau's $6.6-million cap hit this season, and they have key free agents to re-sign this summer. If Marleau still wants to be dealt, he must broaden that list.
ISLANDERS COULD BE CONTENDERS WITH SOME TINKERING
The Washington Capitals are running away with the Eastern Conference, but Larry Brooks of the New York Post believes the conference is still there for the taking for the New York Islanders. He feels all they need is a bold roster move or two by GM Garth Snow.
Brooks suggests finding a true top-line winger for center John Tavares is the priority, followed by adding depth to the defense, perhaps with a puck-moving blueliner. He points out the Isles have the cap space and the assets to do it.
Among Brooks' suggested targets are Carolina's Eric Staal or Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and left wing Andrew Ladd. He also recommends looking into the availability of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos or Edmonton Oilers star Taylor Hall.
Snow hasn't given any indication what his plans are leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline. It's fantasy to assume he can land Stamkos or Hall. If he's willing to make a bold move, Staal, Byfuglien or Ladd are possibilities, provided they're willing to accept a trade to the Islanders.
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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