The latest on the Blackhawks, Sharks, Blues and Red Wings, possible draft day trades, plus updates on Kris Letang, Mike Green, RJ Umberger and more.
ESPN.COM: In the wake of the Chicago Blackhawks’ elimination from the Western Conference Final, Craig Custance doesn’t suggest any major changes for the club. He feels Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews must be re-signed this summer (they’re both eligible for UFA status next summer) and shoring up their backup goaltending. He also suggests more seasoning for Teuvo Teravainen might address their second-line center position.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Blackhawks don’t have to shed salary if they don’t want to, they’ve got over $66 million in cap space tied up in 19 players, leaving over $4 million (assuming the salary cap rises to $71 million) to re-sign or replace Ben Smith, Michal Rozsival, Peter Regin, Sheldon Brookbank and Antti Raanta. Patrick Sharp’s offensive struggles this spring had a few of my readers calling for the ‘Hawks to trade him, but I have my doubts they’ll go that far. Yes, Sharp will attract interest in the trade market, but he’s also considered a core player. It could cost a combined $16 million per season (at least) to re-sign Kane and Toews, so they can’t afford to take on too much salary this summer even if they wanted to.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson doesn’t believe the NY Islanders will trade prospect Griffin Reinhart to the Oilers for the third overall pick, believing he’ll play on the Isles blueline next season…It’s believed the Florida Panthers want a top-four defenseman from any of the teams directly behind them in the draft who want the first overall pick. Unless the Oilers part with Justin Schultz, Matheson doesn’t see them getting that pick. He wonders if the Calgary Flames might part with Ladislav Smid…He wonders if the Oilers might make a pitch for winger R.J. Umberger, who wants out of Columbus.
Matheson also speculates the Penguins might trade Kris Letang to free up some salary…He believes the odds are good the Capitals shop defenseman Mike Green. Despite Green’s injury history, Matheson thinks the Lightning, Panthers, Red Wings and Flyers might be interested…He also doesn’t see many destinations for Martin Brodeur if he’s unwilling to return to the Devils as a backup to Cory Schneider.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize the Islanders have a reputation for making big, sometimes puzzling moves, but I agree with Matheson they won’t move Reinhart. It’ll take more than Ladislav Smid and the Flames first round pick to land the first overall pick from the Panthers…Umberger has a full no-trade clause until June 15, then a modified one. He’ll have to agree to join the Oilers.
I think the Penguins must pick up a big chunk of Letang’s salary to move him, and they’ll have to do it before his new deal (with its modified no-trade clause) kicks in on July 1. Perhaps a club needing to reach the cap floor will take him on, but if I were an NHL GM, I wouldn’t bite. Letang’s injury history, big salary and questionable defensive play screams “buyer beware!”…Same goes for Mike Green, though he only has a year left on his contract at $6.25 million with a modified no-trade clause. The Caps would have to pick up part of it, but given a choice between Letang and Green, the latter would be a more affordable acquisition…I also agree with Matheson regarding Brodeur, who I believe should retire rather than drag this out.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Tim Kawakami reports Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he wants players who want to play for the Sharks, not just live in San Jose. Kawakami’s been critical of the Sharks for sheltering their players from criticism, making San Jose an “undemanding place to live and play”, believing they’ve attracted players who prefer comfort first and foremost. He also believes Wilson’s message is aimed at several long-time Sharks veterans, especially team captain Joe Thornton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hat tip to GJ Berg. If the Sharks dump Thornton and perhaps Patrick Marleau, they won’t get equal value, which could adversely affect their performance for the next couple of seasons as the club rebuilds around younger players. That may be for the best over the long term. Still, it’s one thing to make statements, it’s another to back them up. We’ll find out very soon, perhaps within the next three-to-four weeks, if Wilson will indeed try moving Thornton and/or Marleau.
STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon recently listed several players the Blues could target to boost their scoring next season. Among them: Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Colorado’s Paul Stastny, Montreal’s Thomas Vanek, Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn, Pittsburgh’s James Neal, Winnipeg’s Evander Kane and Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guys like Stastny and Vanek will cost them Blues money but at least they’re not parting with other assets to boot. If they do pursue an established scorer, I think they’d prefer a younger guy like Kane or Schenn, provided they can pry them away from their current teams.
DETROIT FREE PRESS/MLIVE.COM: Helene St. James reports the Red Wings staff will meet this week to discuss trade and free agent scenarios. In addition to addressing their backup goaltending, they’ll also look at how to add a top-six four and a top-four defenseman. Possibilities could include Matt Niskanen, Dan Boyle, Andrei Markov, Thomas Vanek and Paul Stastny via free agency, while Vancouver’s Alex Edler could be a trade target.