With the holiday roster freeze fast approaching, trade speculation has started to pick up around the league. Those notes dominate our top stories of the week.
Asking Price For Howard: Goaltending has been a question mark for several teams currently holding down a playoff spot so they will likely be looking to the rental market for potential upgrades. Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard is in that group but Detroit has placed a high asking price on his services with a package that includes a first-round pick. The 34-year-old is in the midst of a nice bounce-back season, posting a 2.69 GAA with a .922 SV% through 23 games. Howard’s cap hit is just shy of $5.3MM which may be difficult for some contending teams to take on so if the Red Wings opt to move him, they will likely have to retain some salary.
Sabres Unlikely To Pursue Rentals: While Buffalo is off to a better start than many expected, GM Jason Botterill doesn’t appear to be inclined to deviate from his long-term plan. While they are open to adding players that can help them in their push for the postseason, they only appear to be interested in ones that are signed (or are under team control) beyond this season and aren’t interested in getting into the rental market. Buffalo could have as many as three first-round picks in June so it’s possible that they could dangle one of those to pick up someone who can help them for a while.
Berglund Suspended Indefinitely: The Sabres were also involved in the strangest story of the week. Although he was listed as missing two games due to an illness, the team announced that they have suspended center Patrik Berglund indefinitely for failing to report to the team. The veteran has struggled so far this season, posting just two goals and two assists in 23 games while logging a career-low 13:03 per night of ice time. He has also been used almost exclusively in a checking role as he has an offensive zone start percentage of just 20.2%. For perspective, his lowest oSZ% heading into the season was 41.2% back with the Blues in 2015-16. Berglund is signed through 2021-22 with a cap hit of $3.85MM which will be difficult for the Sabres to move if they wind up having to go in that direction.
Bortuzzo Extension: The Blues have locked up one of their depth defensemen, inking Robert Bortuzzo to a three-year, $4.125MM contract. With the deal, the 29-year-old gets a small raise on his current $1.15MM AAV. Bortuzzo has been a consistent physical presence on the back end in St. Louis since they acquired him back at the trade deadline in the 2014-15 season from Pittsburgh and gives them some security on their back end with three other players earmarked for unrestricted free agency next summer.
Coyle Being Shopped: Wild forward Charlie Coyle is no stranger to the rumor mill and he’s back there once again, following a report that says he’s being dangled in trade talks. He has underachieved so far this season with just five goals in 32 games despite logging nearly 17 minutes a night in ice time. The fact he can play both center and the right wing will help his trade value, as is his $3.2MM cap hit through next season. Coyle is just 26 and there will undoubtedly be teams interested in acquiring him despite his slow start.