In his recent bold predictions for this NHL season, TSN's Frank Seravalli forecasted the Montreal Canadiens could their lack of scoring punch by pursuing Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene.
Since the 2017 NHL Draft in June, rumors linked the Canadiens to Duchene. At one point, there was speculation suggesting the Habs might bundle winger Alex Galchenyuk in a package deal for the 26-year-old Avs center. Before the draft, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergervin acquired forward Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, losing right winger Alexander Radulov to the Dallas Stars via free agency still leaves questions about their offensive depth. Seravalli believes Duchene makes the most sense for the Canadiens. He reports Bergevin has kept tabs on the Avs' asking price.
With over $7.6 million in salary-cap space, the Canadiens have sufficient room to absorb Duchene's $6-million cap hit. The problem, however, is they lack the suitable assets to land the Avs' forward.
It's rumored Colorado GM Joe Sakic seeks an established young top-four defenseman, a young forward, a first-round draft pick and a top prospect. Bergevin could dangle Galchenyuk if he runs out of patience with the 23-year-old winger. However, he dealt away his best young defense prospect in Mikhail Sergachev to get Drouin. He has two second-rounds picks in the 2018 draft but could be unwilling to part with his first rounder.
The Ottawa Senators are also linked to Duchene in the rumor mill. Reports indicate the Senators were very interested in the Avs center and recent comments by Sens GM Pierre Dorion did nothing to dispel that speculation.
On Tuesday, Dorion told Ottawa's TSN 1200 he was “51 percent certain” he wouldn't add a forward before the deadline to submit his 23-man roster for the start of the season. He indicated he could seek a filler forward or a higher-end one. As Dorion predicted, he didn't add a forward before his club's season opener. His comments, however, suggests he'll be keeping his eyes on the trade market.
The Senators carry $4 million in salary-cap room. If they pursue Duchene, NBC Sports' Joey Alfieri points out they'll have to move some salary in the deal. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun also reports the Sens aggressively pursued Duchene. However, he claims the two sides aren't close to a deal.
Seravalli's colleague Darren Dreger suggests a poor start by the Avs could put pressure on Sakic to make that long-awaited Duchene trade. If he lowers their asking price there's a chance the Canadiens or Senators could pry Duchene out of Colorado. Otherwise, they'll have to look elsewhere to bolster their scoring punch at center.
JAGR SIGNING COULD PROMPT FLAMES MOVES
The Calgary Flames signing future Hall of Fame right winger Jaromir Jagr dominated headlines in the Stampede City. Overlooked, however, was a rumor suggesting Flames right winger Troy Brouwer could be on the block.
On Monday, Vancouver's News 1130's Rick Dhaliwal reported he'd heard of a possible trade involving the 32-year-old Brouwer. “Not confirmed, just something heard,” he said.
Brouwer joined the Flames last summer as a free agent. His first season in Calgary was disappointing, netting just 13 goals and 25 points in 74 games. He opened this season on the third line but Jagr's addition could drop him lower on the depth chart.
The decline in Brouwer's play makes him difficult to move. He's also earning a $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2019-20 and carries a full no-trade clause for this season.
The St. Louis Blues – Brouwer's former club – could be in the market for a forward. They began the season with Robby Fabbri, Alex Steen, Patrik Berglund and Zach Sanford on the sidelines. Brouwer enjoyed a strong season with St. Louis in 2015-16, including a 13-point effort in the postseason as the Blues advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
For now, Armstrong seems content to look within his organization for help. His limited cap space makes it unlikely he'll pursue someone carrying Brouwer's cap hit.
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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