NHL Rumors Roundup: Patrik Laine trade talk, Maple Leafs, Rangers, and Blackhawks

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It’s your NHL Rumors Roundup for Sunday, February 27, 2022.

The countdown to the NHL Trade Deadline set for March 21st is on. As teams start to fall out of the playoff race, more sellers join the market. However, let’s begin with one of the league’s hottest goal scorers in Columbus.

NHL Rumors: Patrik Laine trade talk

Columbus Blue Jacket’s forward Patrik Laine has found his scoring touch again. This season, the 23 year-old pending RFA has 19 goals and 36 points in 33 games. You would think that GM Jarmo Kekäläinen and Laine have a long-term deal almost done, but apparently that isn’t quite the case.

“He has not had any contract discussions to date, meaningful ones anyway, with the Columbus Blue Jackets on an extension. Those talks will happen a little later on,” TFP’s David Pagnotta said. “He might be able to cash in quite nicely on a new deal.”

Interestingly enough and as you’d expect, teams have contacted Columbus about Laine’s availability. It’s extremely unlikely that he would be traded at the deadline, but if no progess is made on a new contact around the NHL Draft the rumors will start to fly.

Laine signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jackets last summer for $7.5 million.

Toronto Maple Leafs looking for defense

jake muzzin maple leafs
Jan 11, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin (8) tosses practice pucks onto the ice before the start of a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost defenseman Jake Muzzin to a concussion and that seems to have shifted their priorities in using their LTIR cap relief on a defenseman.

On HNIC, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Leafs would not hold back Muzzin if he is healthy and ready to play before the postseason. While that is the answer we expect, the reality will be different if GM Kyle Dubas makes moves at the deadline using the full $7M in LTIR space he’s gained with Muzzin on the list. Just check out the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights for recent examples of using LTIR to their advantage.

Friedman continued to say that the Leafs view this as having around $2M to spend at the deadline. We will see. One defenseman they reportedly have their eyes on is Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg.

Klingberg, 29, has 26 points in 44 games and is looking for a new deal in the $8M AAV range. Dallas is unlikely to give him that making him a prime rental candidate. He currently makes $4.25M against the cap.

New York Rangers trade rumors plentiful

nhl rumors roundup
Nov 2, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) and New York Rangers defenseman Libor Hajek (25) battle in front of New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. version of Toronto’s trade rumor mill is in Manhattan. New York is having a breakout season and all but locked up a playoff spot since the rebuild letter of 2018. They are considered not only buyers, but likely to be the most active team at the Trade Deadline because of their extensive cap space for this season.

If there’s a big name trade target, they’ve been mentioned. From J.T. Miller, Tomas Hertl, and Claude Giroux to recently discussed Filip Forsberg.

According to Arthur Staple of The Athletic, Chris Drury call to check on Forsberg seems to take place around the same time Andy Strickland said he was being “actively shopped.”

A league source said the Rangers have inquired with Nashville on the high-scoring forward, who is a pending UFA.

The Athletic (Subscription Required)

What is interesting to note is that GM David Poile pulled the same thing with pending UFA Mattias Ekholm before signing him. So this sounds like Poile and Drury just doing their due diligence.

Also of note, as the Rangers have made some of their prospects available with Nils Lundkvist being the most high-profile, another is gaining interest.

We’re told that Hartford’s 20-year-old righty defenseman Hunter Skinner, the 112th overall draft selection in 2019, is attracting some interest as teams drill down on the Rangers’ pipeline beyond Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones, Brennan Othmann, Matt Robertson and Will Cuylle. 

NY Post

Larry Brooks also believes Buffalo Sabres defenseman Colin Miller is a Rangers trade target. Yesterday, I ranked Miller #21 on our Trade Bait Tracker with the Rangers as one of the teams interested.

Trouble brewing with Blackhawks GM decision

The GM job came open after longtime general manager Stan Bowman resigned on Oct. 26, 2021, in the wake of findings that the team mishandled allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the Blackhawks’ run to the 2010 Stanley Cup.

Kyle Davidson was named as his replacement on an interim basis. Bowman’s resignation followed an investigation commissioned by the team. Bowman took over as GM in 2009, and the Blackhawks won the Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

According to multiple reports the decision comes down to Davidson and Jeff Greenberg. The two choices are apparently causing some consternation among executives.

Greenberg is the assistant GM of baseball’s Chicago Cubs since 2020. He’s been with the team since starting out as an intern in 2012. His father, Chuck Greenberg was close to purchasing the Carolina Hurricanes in 2017.

The messy season for the Chicago Blackhawks just keeps getting messier. Word from the inside is that there’s a split in the front office about who should be the next general manager of the club. Danny Wirtz, son of the explosive owner Rocky Wirtz, wants interim GM Kyle Davidson to get the job. President of business operations, Jaime Faulkner, wants to go off the grid and bring in baseball executive Jeff Greenberg, who has never worked in hockey. 

Toronto Sun