NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2024

Check out the latest on Jake Guentzel, Juuse Saros, Chris Tanev, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jake Allen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Pittsburgh Penguins will set a high price for Jake Guentzel if they put the 29-year-old winger on the trade block.

Friedman pointed to what the Philadelphia Flyers received from the Florida Panthers two years ago in the Claude Giroux trade. That deal fetched the Flyers a first-round pick in 2024, a third-rounder in 2023 and winger Owen Tippett, who’s blossomed into a scorer in Philadelphia.

Horwat’s colleague Adam Proteau believes the Penguins should move Guentzel if a team is willing to meet their high asking price. Trading him away would hurt in the short term but could prove beneficial over the long run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Guentzel’s offensive numbers, team captain Sidney Crosby’s stellar play and Tristan Jarry’s solid goaltending, the Penguins are struggling to remain in the chase for a wild card spot.

The Penguins tried to make one more Stanley Cup run by re-signing aging stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang two years ago. Under new management last summer, they brought in Erik Karlsson and Reilly Smith.

It’s time to accept reality. The Penguins are not a Stanley Cup contender and haven’t been for several years. They’re not even holding a playoff spot right now. Even if they somehow rally and clinch a berth in the 2024 postseason they’ll probably be eliminated in the first round.

The Penguins don’t have to tear this roster down completely but they must restock with promising young talent for now as well as the future. If someone is willing to overpay for Guentzel, Dubas must pull the trigger.


SPORTSNET: During Monday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman brought up Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros as an intriguing trade target for teams seeking a starting goaltender. He noted the Predators are looking for a top offensive player and Saros could be the kind of guy to fetch that type of return.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (NHL Images).

The New Jersey Devils are searching for help between the pipes and recently spoke with the Calgary Flames about Jacob Markstrom, who carries a $6 million cap hit. However, the Devils have limited salary-cap space and the Flames could be reluctant to retain salary for a player signed through 2025-26.

Regarding Saros, Friedman noted the name of Los Angeles Kings center Quinton Byfield has been tossed around. However, he doubts Saros would fetch Byfield. The Carolina Hurricanes are another club in need of goaltending. Friedman mentioned Martin Necas could be attractive to the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros, 28, is slated to become a UFA next summer. The Predators aren’t under pressure to move him now.

Predators GM Barry Trotz earlier this season said he intended to speak with Saros’ agent about opening contract extension talks on July 1. Even if that plan has changed, Trotz isn’t likely to trade his starting goalie while his team is battling for a wild-card berth.

Everything I’ve read and heard coming out of Nashville is skeptical of the Predators moving Saros. They point to the trade talk that swirled about him leading up to last year’s deadline but nothing came of it. They don’t expect anything to happen now.

Nashville Hockey Now’s Clay Brewer made a good point when he noted that it’s rare these days for a starting goalie to fetch a big return. He thinks the Predators should consider moving Saros if the return is two top prospects or young NHL players plus two high draft picks. He’s not holding his breath expecting anyone to pitch that type of offer.


CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal spoke yesterday with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman about Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev. Friedman believes the Flames seek a first-round pick for the 34-year-old Tanev but teams are offering up second-round picks.

Asked if the Vancouver Canucks could do that, Friedman didn’t think so. Nevertheless, he believes the Canucks have a lot of time for Tanev, who began his NHL career in Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tanev spent 10 of his 14 NHL seasons with the Canucks before signing with the Flames in 2020. Speaking of the Flames’ asking price, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun suggested it was a second-rounder plus another asset or a first-rounder if teams lacked a second-round pick.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Vladimir Tarasenko isn’t paying any attention to the trade rumors swirling about him as he considers his options with the March 8 trade deadline approaching. The 32-year-old Senators winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and carries a no-trade clause. He has 34 points in 46 games this season.

Tarasenko hasn’t ruled out re-signing with the Senators. He wouldn’t say if he’s spoken with general manager Steve Staios about the situation.

Garrioch noted that Tarasenko recently changed agents again but doubted that it had to do with signing a contract extension with the Senators. He cited an insider claiming the winger made this move to get a contract extension in place with a new club before agreeing to waive his no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Senators mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, I’ll be surprised if Tarasenko isn’t moved by the March 8 trade deadline. Whether he can get a contract extension as part of the condition of a trade remains to be seen. Interested clubs could be leery about investing long-term before seeing how well he performs for them first.


TVA SPORTS: Tony Marinaro and Jean-Charles Lajoie believe Jake Allen’s recent poor performance will adversely affect the Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender’s value in the trade market.

They believe Allen doesn’t want to leave the Canadiens. They speculate he was likely offered a role with the franchise following his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s enduring the worst season of his career with the Canadiens carrying three goalies. He seems like the odd man out with Sam Montembeault becoming their starter while promising Cayden Primeau looking more and more like Montembeault’s backup.

Some general managers could blame Allen’s struggles this season on the Habs three-goalie system. One of them could take the chance on him regaining his form with a change of scenery with a traditional two-goalie system..

Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said he’s comfortable carrying all three goalies for the rest of the season. However, it’s believed he’s still willing to trade Allen.

Some observers think Hughes has set his asking price for Allen and won’t budge from it. He’s signed through next season so Hughes doesn’t have to move him at the trade deadline. He could wait until the offseason for a club to meet his price.

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