NHL Rumors: Sabres, Flames, Flyers, Canucks, Maple Leafs, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Buffalo Sabres are going to have trouble getting real value for Eric Staal and one NHL executive outlines the absolute best they’ll likely do on a return. There’s a trade proposal out there between the Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames that another NHL exec thinks makes sense and the Vancouver Canucks are not sellers just yet. Finally, is there any chance the Toronto Maple Leafs acquire a defenseman?

Staal Return Not All That High

As part of a recent article for The Athletic, scribe Craig Custance ran some trade proposals by anonymous NHL executives and when asked if a trade between the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres made sense for Staal, the teams did, but not the asking price.

Eric Staal Buffalo Sabres
Eric Staal, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What was thrown out there was a second-round pick going to Buffalo for Staal, but the exec responded: 

“Carolina says no. I think they would take him but not for a second-round pick. The absolute home run for Staal is a third-round pick. You’re probably looking at a fourth-rounder now. Buffalo has fewer teams to deal with.”

source – ‘Who says no? NHL executives evaluate your trade proposals for Eichel, Mantha, Dumba and others’ – Craig Custance – The Athletic – 03/21/2021

We’ve mentioned in previous reports that Canadian teams seem to be out of the running on Staal and with his age and salary, he’s not going to be as valuable on the trade market as some might have thought early on. It will be interesting to see if the difference in draft pick is a result of the Sabres choosing to retain salary on the player.

Flyers and Flames Have Right Pieces to Make a Deal?

When another executive was asked about trade between the Flyers and Flames — one that would see Johnny Gaudreau and a second-round pick go to the Flyers for Travis Konecny and a fifth-round pick — this was a trade that got some support. One NHL executive responded:

“Great one. That’s a great one. I think you have a deal. The reason is, there’s tons of room for Johnny in Philadelphia. Konecny fits into what Calgary is doing. The question to me is: Is Philly comfortable trading for Gaudreau when they have a great shot at him in free agency (in 2022)? Philly being just outside the playoffs today, this might help them get in the playoffs. The beauty is you get Johnny now and you can sign him. If they’re on the outside looking in, this is the offensive shot in the arm.”

source – ‘Who says no? NHL executives evaluate your trade proposals for Eichel, Mantha, Dumba and others’ – Craig Custance – The Athletic – 03/21/2021

Canucks Aren’t Sellers… At Least Not Yet

As per a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Vancouver Canucks have decided to hold off on becoming sellers now that they’ve climbed back into the Scotia North Division playoff race. Before deciding to offload assets, they want to see how things play out.

General manager Jim Benning
BUFFALO, NY – JUNE 24: General manager Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks speaks at the podium during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Not only that, but Satiar Shah of Sportsnet notes that, currently, the best-case scenario if the Canucks were to trade Tanner Pearson would now be to get a conditional draft pick for him — assuming he’s healthy enough to move before the trade deadline. There’s no need to rush a deal like that if the return isn’t there.

For other Canadian teams, this will slow down the market as clubs in the North Division might have been more likely to make deals amongst each other. With only the Ottawa Senators as true sellers, there’s not a lot for teams to pluck from. At this point, Friedman believes the amount of interest in the Senators’ pending UFAs will determine how busy they and the market is for Canadian clubs.

Friedman also notes the Columbus Blue Jackets are holding off after battling back into the postseason.

Maple Leafs Could Still Acquire a Defenseman

Yesterday, we noted that most insiders have the Maple Leafs pegged as a team that will trade for a forward. That said, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet says that GM Kyle Dubas could still land a blueliner before the deadline. Johnston acknowledged the Leafs have limited cap-space resources but he’s heard they are linked to a couple of defensemen.

Obviously, Mattias Ekholm is a name that has been linked to Toronto, but the asking price is up there. Could there be another player on the Leafs’ radar that no one is talking about?

Sign up for our free ‘NHL News & Rumors Substack Newsletter‘ for all the latest.