In the words of one hit wonders Timex Social Club: “Look At All These Rumors!” While the days leading into the NHL Trade Deadline are full of trade rumors, there are usually just as many heading into the NHL draft and even better is more seem to become reality or close to it as there are more impact trades made around the draft and after than at the deadline. Also, NHL free agency begins on July 1, just two days after the draft will be completed in Philadelphia. Also, with a what is widely viewed as a so-so draft pool, there could be more wheeling and dealing at this draft. So for those of you who thought hockey news would be dying down once the Stanley Cup Finals ended, buckle up! With all that in mind let’s take a look at some of the trade chatter out there, some possible moves that could happen and the latest on the four NHL coaching vacancies.
— Good friend and colleague Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com has been on top of possible moves that could go down soon in Boston with the Bruins and one name he has constantly mentioned as a prime candidate to be traded is forward Brad Marchand. Haggerty noted that “multiple NHL sources” have told him that “Marchand ($4.5 million cap hit) and/or Johnny Boychuk ($3.66 million cap hit) could be moved, based on a combination of salary cap hardship for Boston, and considerably high value on the trade market.” Well on Thursday two NHL sources told “Murph’s Musings” that the Bruins and the San Jose Sharks have had talks about a possible trade that would send Marchand to San Jose and veteran forward Patrick Marleau to Boston. There were no specific details on if any other players or picks would also be involved but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
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— To elaborate on the possible Sharks-Bruins deal, remember that Sharks GM Doug Wilson sent a shot across the bow of his team ship last week when he told the San Jose Mercury News “I want players that want to play here, not just live here.” There’s a common belief that comment was directed at Marleau and captain Joe Thornton and Thornton was immediately the subject of numerous trade rumors after that with his brother and agent having to address them, saying Thornton wants to stay but would be willing to leave if he felt unwanted.
— As reported and then confirmed by Panthers General manager Dale Tallon this week at the NHL GM meetings in New York, the Panthers are down to six finalists for their head coaching vacancy. Dan Bylsma, Marc Crawford, Tom Renney, Bill Peters, Ron Wilson and Gerard Gallant are all still in that mix. But according to a Panthers team source the three frontrunners from that group of six are in no particular order, Bylsma, Renney and Gallant. A decision and announcement is expected on Monday.
— According to a Penguins team source, the Penguins have not begun their search for a new head coach to replace Bylsma but will do so next week and even more so once the Stanley Cup Finals end. New GM Jim Rutherford has used the last week to familiarize himself with his new staff as well as adding friend and former colleague Jason Karmanos as the new Vice President of Hockey Operations. Karmanos served as the Hurricanes assistant general manager and executive director of hockey operations under Rutherford when Rutherford was the Hurricanes GM. The fact that Rutherford and his staff are waiting until next week and the end of the finals led this scribe to ask about current Rangers assistant coach and former Penguin Ulf Samuelsson but there was no confirmation that he would be in the mix as a candidate in Pittsburgh. I speculated here that Samuelsson and Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins coach John Hynes would be the top two candidates and still believe that to be the case.
–Senators GM Bryan Murray finally confirmed that Jason Spezza is indeed on the trading block and that the longtime Senators forward has requested a trade. Spezza has been linked to the Anaheim Ducks by many hockey insiders and that makes tons of sense considering both teams’ needs and financial situations. But I’d keep an eye on the Phoenix Coyotes and defenseman Keith Yandle. According to multiple NHL sources, a bevy of teams are once again inquiring about Yandle who is a regular on the rumor circuit heading into the trade deadline. The Coyotes could definitely use a center of Spezza’s ilk and there could be a match there as Spezza might like going to a non-hockey market where he doesn’t have to deal with the scrutiny he did in Ottawa.
–I have no confirmation that the Canadiens are or would be interested in Yandle but if the Habs can’t re-sign unrestricted free agent Andrei Markov and could fit Yandle’s $5.2 million cap hit for the next two seasons under their cap after they re-sign restricted free agent P.K. Subban, Yandle would fit in nicely on their blue line. Center Tomas Plekanec and a combination of prospects and picks could be enough to pry Yandle from Phoenix.
–Speaking of the Habs blue line, an NHL source said that there is mutual interest from both sides to get unrestricted free agent Mike Weaver signed in Montreal. The two sides are expected to start up talks again Friday or early next week.