NHL Rumors: Canucks, Senators, Bruins, More

In today’s NHL Rumors rundown, are the Vancouver Canucks looking to move defenseman Troy Stecher? Could the Ottawa Senators have interest in making additional trades following their acquisition of Vladislav Namestnikov? What’s the latest surrounding the negotiations between the Nashville Predators and Roman Josi? Finally, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had some interesting comments on Anders Bjork.

Related: NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Penguins, Oilers, Seattle Names

Is Stecher on the Canucks’ Trade Block?

In yesterday’s Insider Trading on TSN, Pierre LeBrun was asked about Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher. After the Canucks added Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn over the offseason, plus the arrival of Quinn Hughes and the health of Chris Tanev, the team has more defensive depth than they’ve had in years. It’s resulted in Stecher being moved down the blue line ranks despite being a top-four defenseman earlier in his career.

Troy Stecher, Vancouver Canucks
Troy Stecher, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He is currently averaging 13:02 of ice time per game, lowest among Canucks defensemen and more than five minute below his previous career low. And with him in the last year of his contract, it’s easy to see why the rumors have begun swirling about his future in Vancouver. LeBrun believes that, despite these rumors, the Canucks are happy with Stecher:

…Stecher is on the third D pairing. But I can tell you this, the Canucks are finally happy to have depth. I mean, this is why they built this team the way they did. They haven’t had depth in a long time, particularly on the defence. And it’s a team that’s been hit hard by injuries on the blue line the last couple of years. So right now that’s the plan is to keep a guy like Stecher for that reason.

Pierre LeBrun

In response to these rumors, Vancouver Courier writer Daniel Wagner attempted to come up with reasons why the Canucks would trade Stecher. (from ‘Why would the Canucks consider trading Troy Stecher?,’ Vancouver Courier, 10/22/2019) The first is they should trade him if the return is worth it, however, he doesn’t think that would happen because a team is unlikely to give up top-four value when he isn’t currently a top-four defenseman.

If they can’t get the right return, Stecher’s more valuable on the Canucks than he is in a trade.

Daniel Wagner

The second is the creation of cap space, but Wagner points out that the Canucks don’t need the space. He also brings up that the Canucks don’t have quality defensive depth in the American Hockey League who could replace Stecher. He ultimately believes that the Canucks will keep Stecher and maintain their defensive depth, especially with the long list of injuries the team’s blue line has faced in recent seasons.

Senators Looking to Make More Moves?

Another rumor brought up on Insider Trading is the Senators looking at making another move following their acquisition of Vladislav Namestnikov. This rumor is rooted in the Senators’ 1-6-1 start to the season and how they’re ranked at or near the bottom of the league in basically every statistical category. TSN’s Darren Dreger believes that the Senators could have interest in bringing in help given how poor of a start the team has gotten off to.

Ottawa Senators Vladislav Namestnikov Tampa Bay Lightning Curtis McElhinney
Ottawa Senators centre Vladislav Namestnikov scores on Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

Dreger suggests that general manager Pierre Dorian is looking to bring in another Namestnikov, whom they acquired on the cheap and has fit in quite well with six points in six games as a Senator. The Senators expected to be bad, but it’s unlikely they thought they’d be this bad. Bringing in a veteran who could create competition for roster spots, especially at a bargain price, wouldn’t hurt things or alter their rebuild plan.

Josi Negotiations Hit Snag

LeBrun also reports that negotiations between the Predators and captain Roman Josi have hit a snag. He believes that Predators GM David Poile met with Josi’s agent when the team was in Los Angeles last week and that no progress was made. He also believes that Josi and his camp want him to become the third-highest paid defenseman in the league after Erik Karlsson ($11.5 million) and Drew Doughty ($11 million). However, the Predators have been unwilling to go that far in negotiations to this point. Given that Josi’s current contract carries a $4-million cap hit, he is due a raise, and the Predators can’t afford to lose him to free agency. Now, the lack of a state income tax in Tennessee could keep the cap hit lower than expected, but Josi is one of the five-to-seven best defensemen in the league and deserves to be paid like it.

Roman Josi
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi is congratulated by the bench. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The issue for Poile and the Predators is that the longer they wait to get an extension done, the more Josi’s price tag goes up. As Paul Skrbina of The Tennessean reported on Oct. 8, the better Josi plays, the more he will be looking for on his next deal. (from ‘Is price tag going up for the Nashville Predators when it comes to captain Roman Josi?,’ The Tennessean, 10/08/2019) And, since Oct. 8, his play has only gotten better, and he currently has nine points in nine games, the best start to a season of his career. Josi is the Predators’ best and most important player, so getting him locked down to a long-term contract is vital.

Bjork Carving Out Role in Boston

With Bruins winger Karson Kuhlman out for at least one month with a fractured tibia, the team has been looking for his replacement in the lineup. One player who might have established himself in the lineup is Anders Bjork. Despite going back and forth between the NHL and AHL the past three seasons, the 23-year-old Bjork has yet to carve out a consistent role for himself.

Boston Bruins Anders Bjork
Boston Bruins left wing Anders Bjork (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)

But, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty, Bjork may have just done that with his performance in the team’s 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. As Haggerty points out, Bjork didn’t record any points, but his presence was felt throughout the game as he played a fast, aggressive game. His play was even recognized by Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy:

We’ll see where Bjork fits best. I don’t think he hurt himself at all tonight. With [Karson] Kuhlman out, you lose a bit of that motor, a younger guy that get on pucks, and that’s where Bjorkie was good tonight. That’s what we’re looking for. Can he sustain it, can he be strong on it? He was. He didn’t hurt us defensively, so that’s a good thing and that bodes well for him. We’ll see if we find a spot for him on Saturday. But it’s looking that way.

Bruce Cassidy

Haggerty thinks Bjork would best fit on the Bruins’ third line after Joakim Nordstrom returns, and that if he can play consistently good hockey in Kuhlman’s absence, he could nail down playing time even in a healthy lineup.