NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs trade priority, Mark Giordano suitors, and Rangers new top trade target
Today’s NHL Rumors begins with the Toronto Maple Leafs as GM Kyle Dubas set the record straight as to what the team’s trade deadline priorities will be.
Despite a lot of rumblings that connected the Leafs to Vancouver Canucks star forward J.T. Miller, Dubas told the press that he will be focused on his defense.
NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs trade priority is defense
When defenseman Jake Muzzin went down with his second concussion of the season, it gave Toronto $7 million in cap space to play with for the upcoming trade deadline. That likely led to speculation on J.T. Miller and it was helped by the Leafs’ assistant GM scouting the Canucks two games in a row.
On Friday, GM Kyle Dubas explained that the Leafs have some flexibility to get creative at the deadline, but it depends on Muzzin.
“A lot of it will depend on Muzzin’s health and where we’re at. We still have quite a bit of flexibility to get creative and try to make something happen,” Dubas said. “Unless we get the news we don’t want on Muzz, I think we’ll just have the one move left in us here.”
That move is going to be for another defenseman. The Maple Leafs have been attached to Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg for some time now. Other possibilities could be pending UFAs like Mark Giordano, Hampus Lindholm, Justin Braun, and Colin Miller.
Luke Fox of Sportsnet offered the name Luke Schenn, which could answer the question as to who the Leafs were scouting on Vancouver recently.
NHL Rumors: Mark Giordano suitors
One of the top rental defenseman at the NHL Trade Deadline will be Seattle Kraken captain Mark Giordano.
There will be no shortage of interest as at least five teams having contacted GM Ron Francis about his availability.
So far, teams that have showed the most interest include the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes. However, it seems unlikely Francis would deal to the Hurricanes, his former team, to help them get better.Emily Kaplan, ESPN
The Calgary Flames were not mentioned by ESPN, but there’s plenty of indications that a reunion with his old team is very possible. Francis and Giordano are in constant communication, and if the veteran wants to return to the only city he’s ever played for, then that’s what is most likely to happen.
New York Rangers new top trade target
The New York Rangers will definitely be involved in the trade market this season as buyers. They may also be closer to making a trade than the other contenders as well.
It’s no secret that the Rangers are going to be active, and with the ability to add around $32 million in salary come the trade deadline, Drury will likely go on a trade spree.
GM Chris Drury has plenty of cap space and doesn’t need to wait closer to the deadline or get help from a third party to lower the cap hit.
I’ve learned that the Rangers are aggressively targeting pending UFAs, Rickard Rakell of the Anaheim Ducks and Ben Chiarot of the Montreal Canadiens. Those are the two big guys they want to add as rentals for the playoffs. A top six forward and a physical left defenseman that can chip in offensively.
Rakell, 28, is a right wing that is currently playing on the Ducks third line. The pending UFA forward has 15 goals and 27 points in 47 games. His current cap hit is $3.8 million and would really help the Rangers scoring issues.
As for Montreal’s Ben Chiarot, he’s been a target for awhile. In 50 games this season, Chiarot has 15 points and 38 penalty minutes. The 30 year-old is another pending UFA with a current cap hit of $3.5 million. He’s a left-handed defenseman with size that can improve the Rangers defense for the postseason
Two other pending UFA forwards they are looking at are Arizona Coyotes veteran Phil Kessel and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi. Kessel could be plan B if they can’t land Rakell. Chris Drury certainly wants to beef up his bottom six, and in essence revamp the third line. That’s why Domi is on his radar.