LATEST NHL RUMBLINGS
— Rangers GM Jeff Gorton turned down trade offers for Keith Yandle during the summer, including an aggressive offer from the Buffalo Sabres, and the move to hold on to Yandle is paying dividends. Scouts have raved about Yandle’s play to start the year after struggles to fit in with the Rangers last season and dealing with a shoulder injury during the entire post-season.
Yandle has 8 points in 14 games and has been driving possession for the Rangers. Yandle is carrying just a $2.625 million cap hit due to the Coyotes picking up half of his salary, among reasons teams’ have been trying to get him out of New York and they’ve had no luck. Don’t look for that to change.
Talk among executives is Gorton has all intentions of locking up Yandle long-term and it won’t surprise many that Rick Nash and Dan Girardi are actively shopped after the season to make room for Yandle and other pressing moves.
St. Louis strongly covets Nash.
— Christian Ehrhoff’s time in Los Angeles could be short-lived. Ehrhoff a healthy scratch over the weekend has struggled mightily on the ice and winning over head coach Daryl Sutter has been a struggle for Ehrhoff.
Ehrhoff is being actively discussed in trade talks, league sources say. Contrary to reports, Ehrhoff does not have a no movement clause in his contract. Columbus who liked Ehrhoff over the summer are one of many teams trying to land a top-6 D and a potential fit.
— If anyone thinks Hurricanes owner Peter Karamanos Jr is going to sign off on anything to help the Pittsburgh Penguins, better think again when it comes to Eric Staal rumors. Things remain personal between Karmanos and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, mostly from Karmanos end.
— The Penguins have had discussions with the Oilers [hide] about defenseman Nikita Nikitin, league sources say. Why is there interest from the Penguins in a player stuck in the minors? Because Nikitin can move the puck well, a key area of need, and is basically available for nothing and the Oilers are willing to eat much of Nikitin’s $4.5 million cap hit.
Nikitin has some supporters in the Penguins’ organization who scouted and saw Nikitin a ton in Columbus (2012-2014). Something to keep an eye on in what would be a low-risk move.
— Last year when the Penguins were on a Western Swing prior to the trade deadline, the Penguins’ brass came out of a game vs Edmonton blown away by Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry who would later be traded to the Canadiens. Penguins officials came out of Saturday’s game vs Calgary with a similar feeling about defenseman Kris Russell who the Penguins had already strongly coveted as a trade target.
Russell an excellent skater who moves the puck well, is also a shot blocking machine and the Penguins continue to monitor his availability and have been since last season. Russell is a pending free agent with a cap hit of $2.6 million. One executive projected Russell will command around $5-$5.5 million per season but that might be a stretch. The Flames want to retain him and would only consider a hockey trade at this point to move Russell.
One NHL source called Patric Hornqvist a Brian Burke type of player and that’s the type of scenario it would likely take to get the Flames’ attention. The Penguins, though, are not in the business of trading one asset from the NHL roster to address another need. Prospects, young players and draft picks will continue to be the route they go in upgrading the roster. Their eye is totally fixated on now not the future.
Assistant coach Gary Agnew who coached Russell for several seasons is a huge fan.
— Keeping Sidney Crosby happy will remain a top priority for Jim Rutherford and his staff moving forward. Finding Crosby a winger could become a top priority but don’t be surprised if you start to hear some Jack Johnson rumors surfacing as there’s some chatter in league circles the Penguins have kicked the the tires.
Crosby’s close friendship aside, the Blue Jackets are listening on almost anything, and Johnson has long been a favorite of many of the Shero left-overs who pushed hard to acquire Johnson in 2013. Jim Rutherford’s past with Johnson not turning pro quick enough for his liking which led to Rutherford trading Johnson years ago, is not an issue.[/hide]