The latest on Coyotes, Devils, Maple Leafs. Rangers, Stars and Rangers, plus updates on Cody Franson, Ryan O’Reilly, Annti Niemi and more.
Collection of speculation from the Ottawa Sun.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Arizona Coyotes are open for business but expect prices for their trade bait to be expensive. The Ottawa Senators had interest in Antoine Vermette but the asking price may have been top prospect Curtis Lazar or another high-end prospect. The Coyotes also want two pieces and a pick for defenseman Keith Yandle, though GM Don Maloney hasn’t indicated how big he wants those pieces to be…There’s speculation New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello’s power and influence may be waning in the wake of Martin Brodeur’s retirement but that won’t stop him from shopping pending UFAs like Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder and Peter Harrold…Several teams (including the Dallas Stars) are rumored to have contacted the New York Islanders about defenseman Johnny Boychuk but he’s not going anywhere…NHL scouts are “starting to circle with interest in forwards Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Mike Santorelli, Leo Komarov along with defencemen Dion Phaneuf, Cody Franson and Korbinian Holzer.” Kessel and Phaneuf could be moved in the offseason. Forget about trading David Clarkson, as his contract is almost trade proof, as well as impossible to buy out…The asking price for Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly is rumored to be “two blue-chip prospects along with a top young player and a No. 1 pick.”… Garrioch believes the Anaheim Ducks have the assets to make a big push to acquire defenseman Tyler Myers from the Buffalo Sabres…There’s “whispers” the Montreal Canadiens could also have interest in Myers, as well as Washington’s Mike Green…There could be interest in recently-waived Florida Panthers defenseman Dylan Olsen if Panthers GM Dale Tallon is willing to take back an assets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen what the Coyotes get for guys like Vermette or Yandle, but there’s no question Maloney will try to stir up a bidding war near the trade deadline…It’s laughable to assume the Islanders might part with Boychuk, one of the key pieces of their defense corps…Yes, lots of interest in the Leafs, who will probably start shedding some salary near the March trade deadline. I agree if Kessel and Phaneuf are to be dealt it’ll happen in the offseason. The Leafs are stuck with Clarkson, whose ridiculous contract could be GM Dave Nonis’ legacy with the Leafs… The Avs aren’t getting that big return for O’Reilly. I can see them getting a top-two defenseman, like Arizona’s Keith Yandle, straight up for him…Sabres GM Tim Murray said he’s not shopping Myers and it’ll take a big offer for him to change his mind. Giving up one or two good young players, one or two top prospects plus a first round pick? I’ll be very surprised if the Ducks agree to that…Same goes for the Habs, and I don’t see the Capitals moving Green now. If they do, it won’t be to a conference rival like Montreal.
Coaching rumors and latest on Niemi and Winnik.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons speculates over former Leafs coach Randy Carlyle or former Penguins bench boss Dan Bylsma replacing Mike Yeo in Minnesota…Sounds like Maple Leafs penalty killer and pending UFA Daniel Winnik could be dealt…Simmons keeps hearing the San Jose Sharks could trade Antti Niemi by the trade deadline…If the Sharks fire head coach Todd McLellan the Maple Leafs, Oilers and perhaps the Red Wings (if they don’t re-sign Mike Babcock) could pursue him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No guarantees Yeo gets fired by the Wild, especially as their goaltending has stabilized with recent addition Devan Dubnyk. I’ve always felt the Wild’s problem isn’t Yeo, but their inconsistent netminders…If the Sharks remain in playoff contention they could retain Niemi for one last playoff run…As Simmons notes, if the Sharks fire McLellan he won’t be unemployed for long.
Latest on Cody Franson.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Maple Leafs and defenseman Cody Franson were unable to come to terms on a multi-year deal worth $4.6 million annually. The Leafs must ensure they also have sufficient cap space to re-sign RFAs Jonathan Bernier and Nazem Kadri.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wouldn’t surprise me if Franson seeks between $5-$5.5 million annually. I’m expecting the Leafs will trade him at the deadline.
Latest salary-cap concerns and Rangers updates.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks speculates the high ratio of players under NHL contract next season (530) could vote against employing the five-percent salary cap escalator for next season to ensure lower escrow payments, even if it mean stalling next season’s salary cap…If the salary cap stagnates for next season, the New York Rangers (over $52 million invested in 13 players) will have limited cap space. That could result in Mats Zuccarello hitting the UFA market, where he might have to sign with Buffalo or Edmonton to receive a big payday.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Pat Leonard reports Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn’t dodge questions regarding possible moves by his team, particularly at center, saying if there’s an opportunity to improve themselves they’ll do it. The Rangers need depth at center and Arizona’s Antoine Vermette could be one option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have limited cap space but enough to acquire a skilled faceoff man with grit. I doubt they’ll pay the Coyotes asking price for Vermette.
No Big “D” Deal for Dallas?
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Tim Cowlishaw doesn’t expect the Dallas Stars to acquire a big-name defenseman before the trade deadline. He doesn’t consider them close enough for playoff contention to give up something worthwhile for such a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Such a move might have to wait until the offseason. Still, GM Jim Nill isn’t reluctant to make in-season moves when needed. If the Stars remain in playoff contention he could be tempted to pull the trigger on at least an affordable rental player.
Value of Sabres trade bait.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl examined the trade value of “forwards (Chris) Stewart, (Drew) Stafford, (Torrey) Mitchell and Patrick Kaleta; defensemen Andrej Meszaros, Tyson Strachan and Andre Benoit; and goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth.” He expects these pending free agents will fetch draft picks, with Stewart and Stafford attracting at best second-rounders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Vogl’s assessments. These guys don’t have great trade value now and I doubt it will improve between now and March 2. GM Tim Murray will have to take the best returns he can get, which won’t be first-round picks, top prospects or good young players.