NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2017
The latest on the Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers in your NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Despite the shock of the Chicago Blackhawks getting swept by the Nashville Predators in their opening-round series, Scott Burnside doesn’t expect any sweeping changes for the former Stanley Cup champions. He cites an NHL scout saying the Blackhawks still have a solid core in forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and goaltender Corey Crawford.
An NHL GM tells Burnside it’s too early for the Blackhawks to rebuild. Still, Burnside wonders if the young players the Blackhawks are incorporating into their lineup (such as Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, Tanner Kero and even Artemi Panarin) will improve and if their core players can bounce back next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor but I daresay we’ll hear some speculation about shaking up the Blackhawks in the coming weeks. One should ever say never. After all, if Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can, but I wouldn’t hold my breath awaiting a major offseason move involving one of the Blackhawks’ core players. Even if they wanted to break up their core, the expensive contracts of those core players and their no-movement/no-trade clauses makes it very difficult to trade any of them.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis once again expressed his belief the Flames will go shopping for a new starting goaltender this summer. He doesn’t expect they’ll re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Brian Elliott, but does expect backup Chad Johnson will return. Francis also doesn’t expect pending UFA defenseman Dennis Wideman to be back, but he can see Deryk Engelland could be re-signed following the expansion draft. Veteran forward Matt Stajan could be exposed in the expansion draft. Restricted free agent winger Alex Chiasson is unlikely to return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have no choice but to find a reliable starting goaltender this summer. They could pursue free agents such as the LA Kings’ Ben Bishop or the Chicago Blackhawks’ Scott Darling. They could also go the trade route, with Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury as one option.
PHILLY.COM: Mike Sielski believes Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall should consider all options this summer to rebuild his club, including a trade of popular power forward Wayne Simmonds. Sielski feels the contracts of Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek would be difficult to move, whereas Simmonds carries a more affordable annual cap hit of less than $4 million through 2018-19. He also believes Simmonds’ leadership, toughness and scoring touch would make him a valuable trade commodity.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, Hextall could trade Simmonds, but I don’t believe he will. Indeed, he’s already stated he has no interest in shaking up his core.