NHL Trade Rumors: Weber, Hitchcock, Blues Core, More

In today’s rumor rundown, Shea Weber’s return may start a domino-like effect of moves for the Montreal Canadiens, Hitchcock may have a hidden term in his contract for some job security and there may be a trade brewing between the Penguins and Ducks. There also might be some shakeup with the St. Louis Blues.

Weber Returning Means a Trade is Coming?

Eric Engels of Sportsnet is reporting that Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber is returning to the lineup sooner than expected, maybe as early as next week. The Canadiens already had a surplus of defensemen which means the team might be eagerly looking to rid themselves of a contract on the blue line.

Shea Weber - Montreal Canadiens
(Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

One option being tossed around is placing Karl Alzner on waivers and then potentially sending him to the AHL if he goes unclaimed. That’s a possibility considering his five-year, $23.1 million deal would be seen as an albatross by many teams and considering he’s been available to the team but sat 16 of the 22 games Montreal has played, he doesn’t look like a good gamble.

Another option might be a trade to send out Jordie Benn. Benn is a pending UFA at $1.1 million and in the right circumstances (bottom-pair role), he could be a useful pickup for a team. Trading either David Schlemko or Xavier Ouellet are options as well.

It sounds like a move by the Canadiens would be less about what comes back in return and more about moving pieces that aren’t being utilized.

Related: NHL Rumors: Wild, Panthers and Nylander, Schmaltz, More

Ken Hitchcock Worked in a Guarantee?

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote during his 31 Thoughts segment that there is speculation new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers may have worked in some interesting bonuses in his contract. While the official word from the Oilers organization is that this is a one-season deal and it will be re-evaluated at the end of the season, rumors are that if the Oilers make the playoffs a contract extension has been worked in as a guarantee.

Edmonton Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock
Edmonton Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Oilers fans would likely have no issue with that should Edmonton make the playoffs. While many are or were hoping for Joel Quenneville to be an option, the focus right now for Edmonton is getting into the postseason and seeing where things can go from there. If Hitchcock can do that for this team, he’ll have deserved another shot to coach a full season.

Meanwhile, the Oilers are still a team being looked at as one that could make some moves and James O’Brien of Rotoworld wondered if the Chicago Blackhawks were “ABSOLUTELY certain they couldn’t unload Seabrook onto the Oilers? He seems exactly up Chia’s alley, and possibly Hitch’s too,” he writes.

** Author’s Note: Seabrook has a stinker of a contract that runs until the end 2023-24 season

Related: NHL Rumors: Hitchcock, Duchene, Skinner, Panarin, More

Something Brewing Between the Ducks and Penguins

Behind the scenes, the Ducks just signed an extension with the city of Anaheim to stay at the Honda Center until 2048. They also may be working on a trade.

According to Friedman, the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to trade for Ducks defenseman Brandon Montour but weren’t interested in moving him. That said, there may be something still cooking when it comes to pending unrestricted free agent forward Jakob Silfverberg who could fit the Penguins profile and help their offense.

Blues Ready to Split the Core?

Elliotte Friedman was on the NHL Network talking about the St. Louis Blues and what’s next after making a coaching change. First, interim coach Craig Berube will take a long look at some of their young players to see what they have in house. Second, management will begin a search for a new head coach. Finally, Friedman believes they may look at shaking up their core.

Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues, January 6, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Friedman said:

“Now one of the guys I do wonder about there is Tarasenko. There have been rumors before that the Blues have not always been happy with him since he signed the big contract. I’ve never had anyone say that to me on the record. I’ve never had anybody give me a trade rumor that’s got his name in it. But it’s kind of been out there, guys.

If the Blues trade Tarasenko, that would be a real indication that they have no idea how to turn things around as is and need the ultimate shakeup to change the course of the franchise. Friedman added, “if the Blues really want to make change, that’s a change they could make – although it’s very hard to win that trade because we all know how talented he is.”