Latest on the Flyers, Sabres & Stars – March 20, 2017
A look at some possible offseason moves for the Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi recently suggested stabilizing the Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltending is the offseason priority for general manager Ron Hextall. So far, Hextall hasn’t decided if he’ll make a contract offer to pending unrestricted free agent Steve Mason. The Flyers GM must also decide whether to protect Michal Neuvirth or Anthony Stolarz in the June expansion draft.
Carchidi pointed out Ben Bishop and Scott Darling could be available via free agency. The Flyers also have some promising young goalies in their system who are close to being ready for the NHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Hextall will look for an experienced starter and could set his sights on Bishop, though it could cost up to $7 million annually on a five-year deal to land him. The Flyers have over $59 million invested in 16 players for next season, with Mason their most notable unrestricted free agent and Shayne Gostisbhere their top restricted free agent.
Hextall could have sufficient cap space to pursue a big-ticket goalie such as Bishop. Whether he does, however, remains to be seen. He could also look around in the trade market. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury could be available, but it’s unlikely long-time rivals such as the Flyers and Penguins will deal directly with each other.
WGR 550: Howard Simon recently speculated he expected Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray will turn to this summer’s trade market to bring in a top-four defenseman. He felt it could cost the Sabres left wing Evander Kane. Simon’s not sure how they can fit an expensive, long-term contract extension for Kane with other deals that’ll have to be made in the near future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane will likely continue to surface as a trade candidate in the coming weeks. While his improved performance this season could improve his trade value, concerns over his off-ice issues could linger.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika believes the Dallas Stars will have a new starting goalie next season. He thinks Stars GM Jim Nill would love to trade Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi but buying out one (or both?) could be his best option. Heika listed Los Angeles’ Ben Bishop, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, the New York Rangers’ Antti Raanta, Washington’s Philipp Grubauer, Chicago’s Scott Darling and Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo as possible offseason goaltending targets for the Dallas Stars. Bishop and Darling are unrestricted free agents while Grubauer and Korpisalo are restricted free agents. Fleury, Raanta, Grubauer and Korpisalo could be available via the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins could trade or buy out Fleury in order to protect Matt Murray in the expansion draft. Raanta, Grubauer or Korpisalo could be shopped before the expansion draft, as their respective clubs could decide they don’t want to risk losing them for nothing.
Bishop and Darling won’t cost any player assets to acquire. Of the two, Bishop will be expensive to sign. Darling would be more affordable. He could be ready for a starter’s job after spending several seasons as Corey Crawford’s understudy in Chicago.