NHL Morning Rumor Mill – December 21, 2013.

Buyer beware for some NHL trade candidates, listing the top compliance buyout candidates, and speculation over Jake Gardiner’s trade status.

ESPN.COM: Timo Seppa of Hockey Prospectus has Washington’s Martin Erat, Florida’s Shawn Matthias and Tim Thomas, Buffalo’s Drew Stafford, Dallas’ Erik Cole, Vancouver’s Zack Kassian, Columbus’ Jack Johnson and Carolina’s Justin Peters on his “buyer beware” trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Erat, Stafford and Cole are overpaid. Age is a factor for Erat, Cole and Thomas.  Seppa also considers Matthias, Stafford and Kassian as underachievers, Johnson overrated and Peters not as good overall as he seems right now. Hard to argue with those assessments.

Could Ryan Malone become a compliance buyout candidate in June?

Could Ryan Malone become a compliance buyout candidate in June?

ESPN.COM: Neil Greenberg lists NY Rangers’ Brad Richards, Buffalo’s Ville Leino, Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu, New Jersey’s Anton Volchenkov, Nashville’s Paul Gaustad, San Jose’s Martin Havlat, Dallas’ Erik Cole, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Malone, Washington’s Brooks Laich and Columbus’ R.J. Umberger as compliance buyout candidates in June.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: June 2014 is the last compliance buyout period, so it’ll be the last chance for those clubs to buy out those players without it counting against the salary cap.

NBC SPORTS: cited recent comments by TSN’s Darren Dreger, who believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to trade defenseman Jake Gardiner. The asking price is believed a top-six forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The next four weeks could determine Gardiner’s fate with the Leafs. They’re struggling to score and leading the league in shots-against per game.  They’re also clinging to one of the last playoff berths in the Eastern Conference. If they fall out of contention, that could prompt Nonis to pull the trigger.


  1. Not sure how Kassian is an underachiever. I view an underachiever as one who’s production is far below expectations for his salary and experience (Lieno). Kassian’s 22, makes $870,000 and has 7 goals which I think is reasonable production for his age and salary – he may finish with 15 goals. Now I agree that Stafford is an underachiever because he’s 28, makes $4 million and has only 3 goals. At this rate he may finish with 6 or 7 goals which is poor production for $4 million

    • Gored, what you’re saying makes total sense. My only points would be that:

      1. Kassian is finishing his entry-level contract, which maxed out his earnings. He is due for a big raise next year, even if he didn’t earn it. I’m not sure what it’ll take to re-sign him, but my hunch is it’ll be around $3M/yr, which then would likely make him an under-achiever.

      2. Kassian’s an under-achiever because of what was expected from him when he was drafted. If people’s minds change and consider his potential to be a bruising 15-20 goal-scoring 3rd liner instead of a 35-goal scoring top-six power forward, then I’d agree. I think some people still think he has top-six potential, which would make him under-achieving.

      But you’re completely right – nowhere *near* the under-achiever Stafford is!

      • To put it into perspective, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen play a decent game. Not fantastic, but decent, and were rewarded with long-term contracts. Both make 2.5mil/year. Just can’t see Kassian getting more than that unless he shows a LOT more consistency.

        • Agree w/VanCanFan – Higgins and Hansen are both on 4-yr/$2.5m contracts. Tanev got a 1-yr/$1.5m deal last year after a much stronger year than Kassian.

          He’s definitely not overpaid right now (ahem – David Booth?), but there’s no way MG gives him more than Tanev next year unless he really steps it up over the last ~45 games.

    • He’s an underachiever because they brought him in to be a mainstay in their top six as they needed more size and skill. He has not delivered hence the disappointment, and the fact they traded arguably their best young prospect to get him.

    • Because Vancouver gave up Hodgson and he’ll have to live up to expectations. And he hasn’t done so.

      • Hodgson wanted out, Gillis had to make the best of a bad situation. And judging a potential power forward at 22 is pretty harsh considering he’s on pace for ~15g at least.

        He’s also a year younger than that primadonna Hodgson, FWIW.

    • Kassian can still be another Cam Neely.
      For that reason alone Vancouver will ride it out and suffer the growing pains.
      I like the guy for what he is. A big crashing power forward with 20 goal capability. I don’t see them losing that deal as much as others may have thought.

  2. Think Matthias would be a big center between Lupal and Clarkson on the second line…these guys need a big center not a fancy dancer like Kadri…

    • Wow That would be a bad second line.

      • I know squat about Matthias so I will trust Shticky’s negative view point and the fact this guy has lousy stats and say no thanks. Keep giving Holland time with Lupul and see where it goes. Maybe we struck Oil again and stole another one from the Ducks? If so it will make Kadri expendable. I would think Kadri and Gardiner together should be able to fetch us a number one center.

        • good luck with that.

          Do your dreams contain pink bunnies and lollipops too?

          • Exactly. If Kadri and Gardiner are worth a legit #1 center, why do you want to get rid of them? It’s not like the Leafs are overflowing with proven talent…this is a team that’s been in one playoff round in nearly a decade.

          • I don’t want to get rid of either of them BUT since our second biggest need is a legit number one center and we have an abundance of 2nd line centers and puck moving D men we can spare these two guys. Kadri is a 1B/2A young center and Gardiner is a 2A puck moving D man.

            Let me explain. The way to try to improve your team is to offer up a player or players to a team in need of certain positions to get something back your team needs. It’s called making a trade.

        • It would have to be a good young franchise type player coming back the other way for Kadri and Gardner.
          Do you have any in mind? Evander Kane? Couturier? Yaks? Top 3 picks?

      • I would agree 100%

  3. The Canes must be overjoyed Tlusty is a UFA after this year, so they don’t have to decide which one they’d buy out between him and Ruutu. What a disaster for those two guys this year.

  4. Totally agree, Johnson is overrated. Love how Lombardi was able to steal Carter away for that bum. Still boggles my mind how some people thought LA way overpaid for Carter, hahahaha.

  5. Not sure kassian belongs…

    1. He is not on market.
    2. He is 22yr old power forward who hasn’t reached his potential yet.

  6. to continue my comment from yesterday about ottawa being cheap and not using cap space, the last 11 stanley cup winners are teams that has the lowest available cap space today. Meaning, spending is pretty much a must. The occasional cheapskate team may fluke a cup one day. Yes the Jays spent “more” but not near what Boston and Yankees spend. Meaning they are still hoping for a cheap championship. Sen’s owner is very cheap and Ottawa will never win anything with him at the helm.

  7. The only way I trade gardiner is for couturier bad before leafs fans say Sean isn’t proven neither is gardiner. Before flyers fans say why do we need gardiner is because you need a player like this to get you forwards the puck. He can skate and pass the puck out of trouble. Couturier is a big 2 way centre that will fit way better into carlyles system and he has shown streaks of high offense. In getting couturier though kadri or bozak will need to be moved in another deal

    • Good luck moving Bozak’s contract.

    • I continue to maintain that deal makes a world of sense for both teams.
      Couturier is progressing nicely and is exactly what the Leafs need. A big young centerman with promise. Until he meets that promise he replaces McClement which is a job he does very well (Ask Malkin). McClement is due for FA status and the Leafs would have a glut at that position in any case.

  8. Promise you there is ZERO chance Couturier gets traded. Bank on it. You wont get him. Besides that ..Couturier > Gardiner. Everyone wanted him when he “wasn’t producing” even though he was and is a great shut down center for his age. He is now still shutting down the teams best lines and out scoring them to boot. KEEP DREAMING

    • I don’t have to dream philly has holmgren as gm

      • I believe I heard the same “keep dreaming” chant from Philly fans when the Luke Schenn for JVR deal was first leaked months before it actually happened and we know what happened there.

    • All you Philly fans said Carter and Richards was untouchable yet they got traded anyway. Anyone can be traded in this league at anytime. Especially with a bonehead of a GM that Philly has right now.

      • Keep dreaming. None of those other players were 20 yrs old and play the way couturier plays. Yes Richards and carter hit thier stride in thier mid twenties. And. JVR. Constantly injured as a flyer. And never backchecked (still have the same prob?). None of them had the hockey smarts of couturier at age 20. All your talk is apples to oranges.

        • ………are you criticizing JVR? Seriously Mutt, your credibility is taking a hit. We all know that the Flyers lost that deal for Schenn who has been scratched how many times this year?
          I happen to like the deals they made for Richards and Carter so I don’t throw a blanket comment over all of their deals but the Schenn deal showed how desperate deals turn out.
          If he does not deal Couturier for Gardner then it will be for Byfuglien of the Jets.

    • Well we all dream there Mutt but what leans in our favour is the fact that you continue to employ that dog of a GM and if he is fired then the owner will grab hold of another ex-player (cue Mr. Hextall) to take over.

  9. I have a question for you Leaf fans. I see Gardiner as a young offensive defenseman with very good skills. Why all this talk of trading him? Please enlighten me.

    • I don’t think any Leafs fan actually wants Gardiner gone. We have an abundance of LH dmen as well as Off Dmen. Jakes value could bring in a decent player to fill a void. I don’t think we need a top 6 as bad as a top 4 shutdown guy

      • We can’t really part with Phaneuf or Franson which leaves Gunnar/Lyles/Ranger/Fraser which no one wants and Gardiner/Rielly one of which could be in play should it net a significant piece the Leafs are desperate for.

    • In every Leafs game this year that he played in he has given away the puck away or gets knocked off the puck many times in a game and contributes to a lot shots and goals being scored on them. Gardiner has looked like he would be a gem but this year he has gone backwards in development. I personally think we should send him to he Marlies but he is a big reason we are being out shot and out scored. He forgets he is a defenceman and not a forwards and gets burned more then any other Leafs.

      The Leafs will have Bozak and Bolland back soon we don’t need center or forward we need a couple of shut down defencemen and that might cost Gardiner, Kadri plus.

      • Wow Bozak and Bolland fixes our problems at center? And Bolland even after coming back from that type injiry may take a while to return to form…If they canget a decent center its as needed as the elusive “shutdown d man” that the entire league could use. Im not ready to hold my breath that Bozak and Bolland really are the missing pieces.

        • Gardiner Reimer Kulimen possibly Kadri Franson and picks are what I see moving by the deadline. Id rather move Franson than Gardiner and believe he would get a better return if packaged properly.

          • No way do the Leafs trade Reimer or Kadri

          • If Holland keeps showing us why he was drafted in the first round then yes, Kadri is expendable and could be PART of a package BUT that player coming back has to be either the stud D man or a first line center otherwise no dice.
            Reimer is a tougher decision since we don’t really have a back up should Bernier go down.

          • Maybe Leafs should call Flames offer up Reimer and a 3rd or 4th rounder for Hudler and Ramo (for Berniers backup). Flames need a young enough goalie to build around and Leafs need a center. Hudler is plus 2 on a very bad team with 31 pts in 36 games. Just a thought.

          • No Cap Space so I don’t see many moves throughout the league this year.
            I like the two goalie system in Toronto.
            I was disappointed in Reimer’s posturing for the 24/7 cameras when pulled by Carlyle against Detroit. I gave him more credit than that. He may have just moved himself inside the doghouse with overt stupidity like that. There is competitive spirit and there is ego. Reimer blew it but I would not trade him.

        • I hear you Shticky but I really like the confidence that Bolland brings to the line up. That swagger can only come from being a winner.
          Bozak has chemistry with Kessel and face off expertise. Retaining control off the draws can really benefit your overall team defense.
          So I agree they are not a Crosby returning, they do represent stability and an upgrade.

    • I agree 100% but once again we have a coach that is not willing to be patient to develop a player.
      Strange considering Carlyle was once that type of young d-man.
      Then again when your job depends on results I guess patience is in short supply. That is why we have a GM who recognizes that offensive D-men like Gardner are in short supply so I don’t think he goes anywhere unless it is an off season blockbuster.

    • Gardiner is a talented high stakes gambler. He can be remarkable, but also heartbreaking with his giveaways. If Gardiner was like a young Kaberle, slick and smooth, and moving the puck easily out of the zone, I’d say there’d be no chance he gets moved. He scores more than Kaberle did, but his scoring ratio compared to his giveaways make him an ulcer for a coach. If he can minimize his gambling in his own end, he could turn out to be very very good in a few years, but the leafs want to fill a pressing need he should fetch a solid NHL regular return – but not a superstar at this point.

  10. Zach Kassian is a goof. Just watch how he carries himself and acts on the ice, the guy is classless gomer with very little skill. If he was on the trade market I would find it hard to believe that there would be any takers.

    • He’s not on the market, not sure why that article had him listed. Probably another eastern conference-based writer looking for fodder for yet another pointless article.

      If anything, the Canucks *need* another top-6 forward. Not sure why they’d dump anyone but Booth at this point, and even he’s playing better the last couple of weeks.

    • Benny you must be joking.
      If you can employ a tough guy that can actually play the game then you do so.
      Kassian could be another Cam Neely type of player that The Nucks are still haunted by.
      He is a kid and will only get better. Stay patient with his development and you will see the results.
      I could see Brian Burke knocking on Vancouvers door for this kid but in the end Gillis knows they need this kids toughness which was why they acquired him to begin with.

  11. Brayden Schenn will get dealt. Couturier stays a Flyer. Any questions?

    • What drugs are you on, and can i have some.. seriously, i would agree that if any of the two would get dealt, it would be Schenn. But i don’t see them giving up on him as long as they are in the PO picture. If the idea is to clear room at center to fit in Laughton, there is no need to rush, since he is stuck in the OHL until the end of their season and the fact that Schenn has been playing the wing. But then again, anything is possible, if the return is right, they’ll move him, Schenn is a RFA after this season, i would think that the negotiations on his new contract will play a part in his future on the Flyers.

      • You answered your own question! Schenn is an RFA and Laughton could take his roster spot in ’14. That makes Schenn a valuable trade commodity.

      • They have to deal from a position of strength.
        Scotty is saying, of the two, it would be Schenn. I get that given Laughtons development.
        Perhaps it is Laughton that is packaged up for a Byfuglien etc but I get Scotty’s point.

    • I would tend to agree.
      The Schenn brothers play a tough game but continue to assault too many fists with their faces. That does not make for a long career.
      Having said that, I would take a Braydon Schenn.