With the NHL Trade Deadline approaching, Last Word on Hockey brings you our daily NHL Trade Rumours segment. Looking at all the talk and analysis from around the league. Today, we bring you rumours from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, LA Kings, and Philadelphia Flyers.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Chris Johnston of Sportsnet went on 590 Radio and hinted that it is possible we see a Nikita Zaitsev trade. No destinations or anything close to official. However, the rumour of his name is out there.
Chris Johnston on Sportsnet 590 earlier today:
I think it’s more likely, honestly, that we see Nikita Zaitsev moved. I think it’s a tough trade to make but I know his name has been out there among other teams as someone they could get.
— James (@Account4hockey) January 17, 2019
Analysis: Moving Zaitsev for assets could be a big move for Toronto. It would likely mean someone would be brought in to improve the horrid right side of their defence. It also would free up cap space going forward. The Leafs are going to hit a cap crunch very soon. Zaitsev makes $4.5 million per season for five seasons after this one. His play has not justified that number and it will only be worse moving forward. Finding a team to give assets back could be a great move for the Leafs.
Rumour: Nathan Beaulieu of the Sabres wants more ice time. It was originally reported he had asked for a trade. However, now it is rumoured he just asked for more ice time or a trade.
#Sabres D Nathan Beaulieu is not demanding a trade, but simply seeking more opportunity to play.
Whether it’s in Buffalo or elsewhere is the question, per his agent to The Associated Press.
— John Wawrow (@john_wawrow) January 17, 2019
Analysis: It is a contract year for Beaulieu. Meaning he no doubt wants to show what he can do. He is only averaging 14:46 per game, which ranks 7th among Sabres D who have played at least 15 games. Even Matt Hunwick who has only played 2 games all year played more than him when in.
Beaulieu could be an interesting option for a team looking for defence depth. He may also be an interesting option to a team like the Kings or Chicago Blackhawks. Teams clearly out of the race but could take a chance on him to see what is there.
Los Angeles Kings
Rumour: TSN Insider Darren Dreger went on Leafs Lunch and said the Kings were looking for a first and a prospect back for Jake Muzzin. Muzzin has this year and next at a $4 million cap hit per year.
Analysis: This seems like a fair ask. Muzzin has pretty quietly been LA’s best defender this season. Drew Doughty made the 2019 All-Star Game based on name value. However, Muzzin has been the teams best defenseman.
The Kings would love to keep him, but they are running into cap troubles. They are also starting a rebuild and this is the type of person you trade away. Any playoff team would benefit greatly from adding Muzzin. He could be a real good fit on the Pittsburgh Penguins if they could make the cap work. The Winnipeg Jets would be another good fit for him. Muzzin will turn 30 just before the trade deadline.
Rumour: The Flyers waived veteran Dale Weise the other day. However, it is rumoured that they may be looking for a trade for him instead of making him play in the AHL.
As you know, Dale Weise cleared waivers earlier today. However, he will not be sent to the AHL. At least not yet. Expectation is he will be traded.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) January 17, 2019
Analysis: A trade might be hard to work here. Weise has another year on his contract at a $2.35 million cap hit after this, and to be honest, he’s just not much of an NHLer anymore. He had 11 points in 42 games this season. This doesn’t look horrible, however, he also was caved in possession-wise. It would appear as if the game has gotten too fast for Weise.
If the Flyers do pull off a trade, they will almost certainly have to retain 50% of his salary. Even then, teams may not want to take him. The benefit of him clearing is that if the Flyers do trade him, the team that acquires him doesn’t need to play him on their NHL team right away. He could be an extra body for someone in the AHL, possibly.
Stay tuned every day for more NHL Trade Rumours.