When TSN released their off-season Trade Bait List in early July, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk was ranked #4, among the most likely players to be dealt. A little more than two months later, all three players ranked ahead of him – Erik Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, and former teammate Jeff Skinner – have changed teams, while Faulk remains in Raleigh. But for how much longer? Appearing on TSN Radio 1050 recently, insider Pierre LeBrun revealed that Faulk was a target of the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer and speculated that the team could still move to acquire him this season. LeBrun opines that Faulk, a right-handed shot signed to an extremely reasonable $4.83MM cap hit over two more years, would be a perfect fit for the Leafs. Toronto has long been searching for a top pair defenseman to complement lefty Morgan Rielly and Faulk fits the bill. LeBrun speculates that the Hurricanes are likely asking for a major package in exchange for Faulk, but meeting those demands may not be an impossible task for Toronto. Several Maple Leafs players and prospects could fill gaps in Carolina, such as veteran center Nazem Kadri, promising wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and young goalies Garret Sparks and Joseph Woll, as well as a full cabinet of draft picks. There have also been some inclinations that the Hurricanes are preparing to move on from Faulk as well, such as acquiring a new top pair righty in Dougie Hamilton and passing over Faulk, a career ’Cane, for their captaincy. The team is under no pressure to deal their long-time stud defenseman, but if GM Don Waddell receives a strong enough offer, he seems likely to pull the trigger.
- Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been clear that he does not want to trade either Artemi Panarin or Sergei Bobrovsky, but as both remain unsigned and approaching free agency and trade calls continue to come in for Panarin, there has been rampant speculation as to where the star winger may land. After recent comments from Bobrovsky that could be read as implying that his time in Columbus could soon be over, many have begun to predict where he may land as well. In a recent segment for TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa, Darren Dreger stated his belief that the New York Islanders would be the front runners in a Bobrovsky trade scenario. Dreger adds that there will be more than a few suitors should the two-time Vezina winner hit the trade market or, better yet, the open market. However, Dreger feels that the Islanders and new GM Lou Lamoriello feel more pressure to add a true No. 1 goaltender in their hopes of soon returning to contender status. The Isles currently roster unpredictable Robin Lehner, on a one-year deal, and failed starter Thomas Greiss, as well as two prospects overseas in Ilya Sorokin and Jakub Skarek. Lehner and Greiss do not instill much hope and Sorokin may never make the jump to North America. The Islanders are without a solution in net in the immediate future and could target Bobrovsky at any cost to solve that problem.
- How long will the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils wait on contract resolutions with Nick Ritchie and Miles Wood respectively? The restricted free agents continue to hold out for better contracts and miss valuable time in training camp, despite underwhelming numbers through their first three seasons to support their absence. At this time last year, Columbus Blue Jackets RFA forward Josh Anderson – a similar power forward-style player – remained unsigned and was the subject of numerous trade rumors. Yet, Anderson had just 34 points through 96 games in his first three seasons, whereas Ritchie and Wood have more experience and production through the same amount of time. Ritchie, a first round pick in 2014, has 59 points in 186 games. Wood, one of the Devils’ top scorers last season, has 49 points through 137 games. One would think that either team could drum up interest if they began actively shopping their respective RFA, but it hasn’t happened to this point. Wood is not without flaws to his game, but has exceeded expectations and played a major role for New Jersey last season and with more play time has the potential to be even better. In contract, Ritchie has his strengths, but has not lived up to his first-round billing. Between the two, it would be less of a surprise to see Anaheim part with Ritchie.