NHL Rumors: Penguins, Maple Leafs, Sabres, More

In today’s rumor rundown, the Pittsburgh Penguins are starting to realize they might need to shake things up to boost the team, the Buffalo Sabres understand that one of their free agent forwards is getting more expensive by the day and there are some teams taking stock of what it might take to land William Nylander.

Penguins Might Make a Move

Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote that Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford stated during a radio appearance on 105.9 FM that some roster changes might be needed to help break the team’s recent slump and improve team chemistry. Rutherford wondered if the team has settled in and not given their best effort because they’ve been used to success. Maybe the group has been together too long and it’s time for a change.

Daniel Sprong Penguins
Daniel Sprong, Pittsburgh Penguins, January 2, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One example might be a player like Daniel Sprong who should have progressed but was a healthy scratch. When he is in the lineup, he’s been playing on the fourth line instead of successfully grabbing a spot in the top nine and that’s not what the team wants out of him. While Rutherford admits the team could use a boost on their blue line, he’s not sure there’s a player available that would help right away and there was no mentioned if Sprong would be part of that deal.

Darren Dreger was on NBCSN and noted Rutherford is working the phones and Sprong may be coming up in talks. He said he would be surprised if Sprong wasn’t traded and said Rutherford might even have something bigger cooking.

Related: NHL Rumors: Quenneville, Nylander, Sens, Canucks, More

Jeff Skinner Getting Expensive

Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News wrote that winger Jeff Skinner is in the final year of his deal and getting more and more expensive as the season rolls along. With 16 points in 15 games, he’s started well out of the gate and will likely command a hefty raise of the $5.725 million salary cap hit he carries this season. At only 26 years old, he’ll be looking to hit a home run in free agency.

Sabres center Jeff Skinner
Sabres center Jeff Skinner (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Sabres GM Jason Botterill recently said the team was holding off on talking any extensions until later in the year and while Skinner is happy in Buffalo, he’s going to let his agent do the work which means he’ll likely seek out the best deal available.

“There are agents and management people, guys who are really a lot smarter than me, who deal with that kind of stuff. Fortunately for me, I focus on playing. That sort of thing will figure itself out in time,” Skinner said.

Related: NHL Rumors: Bobrovsky, Rask, Nylander, More

Teams Interested in Nylander

Rory Boylen of Sportsnet.ca lists the Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, and Anaheim Ducks as potential trade destinations for Nylander if the Leafs decide to trade him.

William Nylander Maple Leafs
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dec. 12, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If the Maple Leafs look to a deal with Carolina, it could be a combination of Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk, and Valentin Zykov coming the other way. If they deal with Los Angeles, the Kings might try to move Jake Muzzin and/or Alec Martinez along with prospects Kale Clague and Rasmus Kupari. If it’s the Flyers, Philadelphia might offer up a package that could include one of Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers and Robert Hagg. The Wild could discuss Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and/or Matt Dumba, and Anaheim might consider Brandon Montour, Josh Manson, and prospects Josh Mahura, Troy Terry, and Max Jones as moveable pieces.

Obviously, these teams wouldn’t move all these pieces and in some cases, like Minnesota, they may have to think long and hard about moving a player like Dumba one-for-one.

It will be interesting to see if the names of players and teams interested starts to make things more real for Nylander who has until December 1st to sign a deal or miss the season. Maybe this is something that encourages him to bring his asking price down a little whereas to date, he’s yet to budge on the $8 million per season he’s seeking.

Related: NHL Rumors: Kings, Islanders, Wild, More

Quenneville Landing Spots

NHL media and insiders are having fun predicting where recently released coach Joel Quenneville may wind up. The leading candidates seem to be St. Louis, Detroit, Philadelphia, Anaheim and the new expansion team in Seattle.

Seattle would make some sense as it would give Quenneville a slight break from coaching, he could collect the $6 million per season the team still has to pay him and then move onto a new project where he’ll have a large window to help the team.