One of the important trade-related benchmarks in the NHL each year seems to be American Thanksgiving, since that’s around the time of the season general managers have a real feel for their teams’ needs.
With tryptophan on the horizon, potential targets for deals are beginning to materialize.
“I think everybody has kind of sat there and said, ‘Okay, the two biggest chess pieces were Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris, and now they’re off the board,’ “ began hockey Insider Elliotte Friedman during a Monday TV hit on NHL Network. “So I think there’s been a little bit of a reset.
“Now I think the names you’re going to start to hear – Evander Kane. Does Buffalo sign him or do they keep him. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, he pointed out to me at a certain point last year I think there’s only one guy who’s got more 5-on-5 goals than Evander Kane. And he can score. He’s an unrestricted free agent. He’s off to a great start this year. I could see Buffalo – if they want to – they can hold an auction for that guy.”
Kane does not have any trade protection in his contract, which carries a cap hit of $5.25 million and an actual salary of $6 million this season.
The rugged winger has points in three straight contests, tallying nine goals and seven assists in 17 games.
Kane has been the subject of a number of Insider segments lately.
Darren Dreger pointed out last week that there hadn’t yet been any dialogue between Kane’s camp and the Sabres on any extension.
While Dreger has also indicated that trade interest in picking up in the power forward, there does seem to be some hesitancy from other teams about signing him to a long-term deal.
“This is such an unfair thing for me to say, but I say it because it’s the mood, it’s the feel, it’s the temperature of what I’m getting from around the National Hockey League,” said Dreger on Friday. “I’m not saying that there isn’t going to be another team that’s willing to give Evander Kane seven years, but if there is I haven’t come across that team yet. I haven’t come across it.”
Friedman continued his hit on NHL Network on Monday.
“I think Las Vegas holds the key. What are they doing with all of their guys,” he said.
The conundrum for Golden Knights general manager George McPhee, obviously is that his first-year expansion club is actually winning games. They’re 10-5-1 with a second-place stake in the Pacific.
“It’s tough,” maintained Friedman. “As an owner I say, ‘I kind of like this, I want to go for the playoffs,’ but they need to build. They’ve got a lot of guys who are unrestricted free agents. They need to build.”
James Neal may be the piece de resistance in terms of potential trade bait from Vegas before the deadline, and he’ll cost acquiring teams a $5 million cap hit.
Neal, 30, does have a modified no-trade clause, which details eight teams to which he cannot be dealt.
The winger exploded for six goals in his first four affairs, and has 13 points through 16 tilts.
29-year-old winger David Perron will also be an attractive option for a number of teams, and his 14 points lead the team.
His cap hit is a mere $3.75 million, and his modified no-trade clause includes a three-team no-trade list.
“The other one I think, and I mentioned it last weekend, is just something to watch – Jason Spezza in Dallas,” finished Friedman. “He was playing right wing a bit last week. He finally scored his first goal of the season. I think Jason Spezza still has a lot to offer, I just wonder if it’s going to be in Dallas. He’s got one more year at $7.5 million. I think the Stars’ preference is to make it work because you always need to score and Jason Spezza can score.
“But if it doesn’t, he’s got a no-move clause during the season. He controls his fate. But I wonder if there would be teams that would look at it like maybe a Columbus, maybe an Anaheim, who would say, ‘You know what? We could use him.’ ”
As Friedman alluded, Spezza is in Year Three of his four-year contract and has both a cap hit and salary of $7.5 million.
Spezza, 34, has a modified no-trade clause, no-move clause; the former of which through which he submits a 10-team no-trade list.
With only six points in 17 games, his point production has been sparse at best so far. History suggests he’ll rebound at least somewhat, though reduced ice time and role are also at play here.
Friedman hinted at having mentioned Spezza over the weekend, which the Insider did on Saturday’s Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada.
“Jason Spezza – big night for Dallas last night,” noted Friedman. “They had a huge 5-0 victory and Jason Spezza scored his first goal of the year. But prior to that, he hadn’t scored yet. And also, he was looking at his lowest playing time since he first became an NHL regular, and he’d been moved out of center onto the wing.
“And I started to hear his name a bit maybe as a potential trade chip. Now, one thing we should realize is he has full control over his situation – no-move clause during the season. No. 2, he’s got one more year at $7.5 million.
“But just also in researching it, I think Dallas realizes you need offense to win in this league and Jason Spezza can still provide offense. So I think the No. 1 choice is for this to work before they explore it to see if they need to make a move or anything like that.”