The bumpy, already turbulent season is upon us, but the NHL trade talk could have another big fish and the reemergence of Marc-Andre Fleury rumors. The Florida Panthers and new GM Bill Zito appear to be considering moving Keith Yandle, just as the waiver wire was flooded with viable NHL talent.
How will that affect the already roadblocked NHL trade market?
Fleury was one of the most-watched stories of the offseason and one of the most intriguing side plots of the bubble playoffs. Get ready, despite Vegas ownership and GM Kelly McCrimmon’s denials that Fleury will be traded, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is again receiving interest.
Here’s the latest National Hockey Now ‘Off The Record’:
1. Is Yandle Being Forced Into NHL Trade Rumors By Zito?
On Sunday, colleague George Richards of Florida Hockey Now sent out a tweet that Florida Panthers veteran defenseman skated in Group 2 at practice. As Richards noted, this group is believed to be the players that are on the fringe of making the final roster cut. Yandle’s Iron Man streak of 866 games consecutively-played streak is in danger.
#FlaPanthers split up team in practice with what looks like game players and those on the fringe of making the roster. Defenseman Keith Yandle is with that second group. Q says group can change throughout week, he wants to see the teams younger defensemen. Still…
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) January 10, 2021
In the last 24 hours, numerous sources have confirmed that Florida Panthers General Manager Bill Zito has let it be known that Yandle could be available on the NHL trade market soon. The buzz is that this is the classic case of a new GM coming in and wanting his own guys in there, but yes, also that the 34-year-old defenseman still has three more seasons left on a contract that carries a $6.3 million cap hit. So it appears to me that Zito is sending a message to get Yandle to waive his no-movement and no-trade clauses.
On Tuesday afternoon, Yandle confirmed to colleague George Richards of Florida Hockey Now that he has not been approached about waiving anything yet.
“When it comes to the no-move (clause), I don’t know where their approach is, what (GM) Bill Zito’s end goal is. Whatever it is, I haven’t been told,” Yandle said.
Off the record: “Sure looks that way from the outside, doesn’t it?” one NHL Assistant GM asked ‘Off The Record’ rhetorically. “From what I’m hearing, he’s going to start the season probably as a healthy scratch, and his name is definitely out there. He’s got a hefty cap hit, and teams are squeezed right now, but he’s still an assist machine and could make anyone’s powerplay better.”
2. Marc-Andre Fleury with horns?
On Monday, the NHL announced that the Vegas Golden Knights would play the Colorado Avalanche as part of the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe on Feb 20. The other game will feature the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb 21.
This week NHL trade chatter picked up that Marc-Andre Fleury may not get to wear one of those NHL ‘Reverse Retro’ jerseys when Vegas hits the ice on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort near the California-Nevada border in Stateline, NV. While many teams are too cap-strapped to take on Fleury’s $7 million salary for two seasons, the New Jersey Devils are suddenly in a predicament they didn’t see coming.
New Jersey signed two-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie Corey Crawford two days into NHL Free Agency back on Oct. 10. However, Crawford caught new Jersey by surprise when he hung em up on Saturday.
The Devils are high on MacKenzie Blackwood’s future but stress the future part. Suddenly new backup Scott Wedgewood has played just 24 NHL games has GM Tom Fitzgerald scrambling for a goalie, and Fleury is definitely on the radar. =
Off the record: “Fleury is still out there for sure, and ‘Fitz’ is looking into it,” an NHL source told OTR Monday.
An unassailable source close to the situation confirmed to ‘Off The Record’ Tuesday morning and said Fitzgerald had ‘already had prior talks’ with Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon.
Fleury vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, up to eight times. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
3. How Does Waiver Wire Affect The NHL Trade Market?
The NHL waiver wire was flooded with over 100 players on Monday. There were some notable names on the wire too. 2015 first-round picks Evgeny Svechnikov and Zach Senyshyn, veteran Stanley Cup winner Corey Perry and Vancouver Canucks, and former Boston Bruins winger Loui Eriksson are up for grabs. It turned out only four players were claimed by noon Tuesday but the drastically larger volume of players that were waived lit the light bulb in this puck scribe’s melon.
Will this affect the NHL trade market as NHL waivers have in the past, or is there a mutual understanding that many of these players are still wanted by their current teams but ended up on waivers because of the salary cap implications of the taxi squad?
While it doesn’t seem logical, yes, teams have acquired players on waivers earlier in the season, even though they wouldn’t have had to lose a player and/or pick in a trade. In the salary cap world, everything is situational, and a team may not have the cap space at the exact time a player was waived but then does later in the season.
The question here is a matter of perception. When a player is waived, will it be seen by other teams as that player not being wanted or strictly salary cap and taxi squad related?
Off the Record: “That’s a good question,” one Assistant NHL GM told ‘Off The Record.’ “Look, I think we all know the majority of those surprises we saw on the list Monday were out there because of the tighter cap crunch and the taxi squads. Get used to this, by the way. But the reality is those guys are out there, and they’re fair game, right? If another GM can swing it and claim your guy, they’ll do it.
This won’t be like that taboo environment we see with the lack of offer sheets.
..If the player clears, I don’t think it’s as much a smoke signal that ‘Hey come back to me on this guy if you like him but can’t swing it now.’ Maybe that player would get waived again, or he gets dealt for a pick. The new team gets him prorated (salary) now. I’m sure GM’s would love to do it that way, but given the strict quarantine rules and this insane cap crunch everywhere, I’m not sure how many trades could result from this.”