NHL Rumors: Rangers, Maple Leafs, Canucks, Canadiens, Blackhawks

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the New York Rangers are trying to be active in the trade market and are dangling Vitali Kravtsov out there in trade proposals. Meanwhile, reports are that the Toronto Maple Leafs are shopping forward Nick Ritchie and there are teams potentially interested. The Vancouver Canucks have shown some interest in a New Jersey Devils pending RFA and could an injury scare speed up the process of teams trying to acquire Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens? Finally, does Patrick Kane’s opinion of Dylan Strome help keep the Chicago Blackhawks from trading the player?

Rangers Dangling Kravtsov

Among the names available out of the New York Rangers organization are winger Vitali Kravtsov who the team is trying to use as a trade chip to add to their roster ahead of the deadline. Elliotte Friedman noted during his 32 Thoughts podcast that it makes sense considering Kravtsov has pretty much ruled out the Rangers as an option moving forward.

Vitali Kravtsov, New York Rangers
Vitali Kravtsov, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The one thing to keep in mind for teams looking to trade for the forward is that he’s currently playing in the KHL and cannot return to the NHL until their season is over. That league is currently on hold until the conclusion of the Olympics. Friedman said, “I’ve been told [Kravtsov] has been telling teams he plans on coming back to North America.” He adds, “The other thing too is that he’s going to have to go on waivers. So it’s not like (the acquiring) team is going to send him down to the minors. They’re going to give him a shot to play.”

Maple Leafs Trying to Move Nick Ritchie

That Toronto is trying to shed themselves of Ritchie’s contract isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, but that there’s some momentum being gained in talks about trading the forward might be a bit surprising. Elliotte Friedman reports that there has been some traction in the last few days when it comes to potentially moving Ritchie.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kase, Simmonds, Mrazek & Woll

The one thing that the NHL insider suggests complicates matters is how much Toronto is willing to retain in terms of Ritchie’s salary on any deal. Buying him out doesn’t actually cost the Maple Leafs very much so there’s not a ton of incentive to move the player if the Leafs are being asked to take salary back.

Trade Action to Pick Up on Ben Chiarot

Friedman also notes that a bit of an injury scare to defenseman Ben Chiarot might speed up the process of him being traded before the deadline. There is so much trade talk surrounding the player and a lot riding on the Canadiens ability to move him, if he were to get injured it would be a big problem.

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Friedman noted that the St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Lose Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames, and Florida Panthers are all teams that have an interest in Chiarot, but probably not if he gets hurt.

Canucks Curious About Zacha

Jeff Marek noted during the 32 Thoughts segment on Saturday was that the Canucks have an interest in trading for Pavel Zacha. The Canucks are expected to be sellers this season before the deadline, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be trying to land quality players as they turn the club over a little bit.

Pavel Zacha New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Marek notes that Zacha will be an RFA at the end of the season but also one season away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Because Zacha could take his qualifying offer with New Jersey then leave after one year, Devils’ GM Tom Fitzgerald has a decision to make with a number of decent centers already locked in and part of New Jersey’s future.

Kane Goes to Bat For Strome

There has been all sorts of talk this season about Dylan Strome possibly being traded by the Chicago Blackhawks. But, with 14 points in his last 13 games, he’s starting to make people wonder if trading him is the best idea. Now, his teammate Patrick Kane has weighed in and said, “With Strome, it’s pretty obvious, if you give him a chance in a top-six role and on the power play, he’s gonna produce. It’s just the fact. … I feel like keeping a guy that’s that young is probably a better solution. He can be part of the future here.”

Whether this changes the Blackhawks desire to move the player is unclear, but one has to assume teams are looking more closely at Strome and what he might be able to offer in a playoff push.