NHL Rumors: Blues, Canucks, Maple Leafs, Lightning, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is talk the St. Louis Blues might try to put a rush on a Vladimir Tarasenko trade. What are the Vancouver Canucks looking at in free agency? Are there targets they’ve identified that can help the team in their middle-six? Are the Toronto Maple Leafs looking at trading for Tyler Bertuzzi and who are the Tampa Bay Lightning most likely to lose this summer?

Blues to Try and Trade Tarasenko Before Expansion Draft Lists Due?

The St. Louis Blues might be trying to trade Tarasenko before July 17th. That’s a quick turnaround from word getting out that the player has requested a trade and it’s going to be challenging for the Blues to get anything of value if the team has no leverage and they can’t affect their own or other team’s expansion draft plans.

Vladimir Tarasenko
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 27: Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates his second period goal against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on May 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Dispatch asks if the Blues should protect a player they want to trade or expose him and risk losing him for nothing? He writes:

The issue could be solved if general manager Doug Armstrong can pull off a Tarasenko trade before July 17. That’s when a five-day freeze begins on trades, signings and waivers among the other 31 teams heading into the Seattle expansion draft.

source – ‘Tarasenko trade request complicates Blues’ expansion draft list’ – Jim Thomas – St. Louis Post Dispatch – 07/08/2021

If Tarasenko isn’t moved, the most likely scenario is that he stays on the protected list because you want to get something for him via trade.

Canucks Possible Offseason Targets

According to Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance of The Athletic, the Canucks need more skill, speed and two-way intelligence up front, but can’t afford to target a big-name top-six winger on the unrestricted free-agent market or via trade this offseason. What does that leave?

They write:

The Canucks won’t be kicking the tires on the sexiest names, so much as they’ll focus on identifying bounce-back candidates and other imperfect, likely to be affordable forwards who are decent bets to outperform their pedestrian cap hit.

source – ‘Canucks offseason targets: 11 under-the-radar forward options with middle-six upside’ – Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance – The Athletic – 07/05/2021

The two scribes list 11 forwards GM Jim Benning could go after: Warren Foegele, Mason Appleton, Derek Ryan, Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, Tyler Ennis, Ryan Dzingel, Vinnie Hinostroza, Ondřej Kaše, Danton Heinen, and Michael Bunting.

Maple Leafs Have Interest in Tyler Bertuzzi

After a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger that the Leafs might be a team that kicks tires on Taylor Hall, per Elliotte Friedman, the Maple Leafs might have their eyes on someone different. He says the Leafs organization had interest in Tyler Bertuzzi for a while now. This could be a player the team looks at if they are unable to re-sign Zach Hyman and if Alex Kerfoot is picked up in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Tyler Bertuzzi Detroit Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“I’m wondering if he’s one of the guys they’re going to look at,” Friedman said. ” He plays a way that I think Toronto would like to add to their roster.”

Bertuzzi is three years younger than Hyman and already has had two seasons with career highs (47, 48 pts) that were higher than anything Hyman has produced (41 pts). For Toronto, there could be a belief that Bertuzzi hasn’t scratched the ceiling of what he could do, especially if placed with some elite-level talent.

Bertuzzi is an RFA this summer and Friedman heard the Maple Leafs were looking at him ahead of the NHL trade deadline last year, but before the player got hurt and was done for the season.

Most Likely Lightning Player Exits

Friedman also listed a few of the names most likely to be leaving the Lightning this offseason. As most are aware, the team is well above the salary cap and can’t afford to keep everyone.

He noted that Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow will be leaving via free agency as there are teams that will show interest. Tyler Johnson could go, and might be easier to move this summer because he had an impactful playoffs and had a great attitude throughout a trying season personally. As for Alex Killorn, there was a belief he was going to be traded last season, but the Nikita Kucherov injury allowed the team to keep Killorn.

The NHL insider doesn’t think that Steven Stamkos is going anywhere and has absolutely no desire to leave the team or the city.

Friedman did say that the organization could be forced to make a move earlier than they’d like because of the draft.