Latest on Kevin Bieksa, Jeff Skinner and Kari Lehtonen, plus the Devils could trade their first-round pick in this year’s draft.
Bieksa, Skinner possible trade bait?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wonders if the Vancouver Canucks could consider trading veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa this summer. Bieksa turns 34 this summer and is eligible in 2016 for unrestricted free agency. He also speculates the Edmonton Oilers might have interest in Canucks forward Shawn Matthias, who’s eligible for UFA status in July. Matheson also thinks the Carolina Hurricanes could shop winger Jeff Skinner for a top-four defenseman, bearing in mind Skinner has an injury history.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could consider moving Bieksa as a cost-cutting measure, which would free up $4.6 million in cap space. However, he’s got a full no-trade clause and must agree to be dealt. Matthias could prove attractive to any club seeking a skilled checking-line forward with a decent scoring touch. The Oilers could certainly use a player like that. Skinner could be a trade option but I suspect the Hurricanes will retain him in hopes he has a bounce-back performance next season.
Should the Stars shop Lehtonen?
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent chat with his readers, Mike Heika pondered Kari Lehtonen’s future with the Dallas Stars. While acknowledging Lehtonen is a 35-win, .917 goalie who’s tough to give up, Heika’s starting to doubt if he can return to the Stars and regain his form after struggling this season. He thinks Lehtonen might benefit from a fresh start elsewhere. If they want to unload his contract ($5.9 million cap hit for three more years), he wonders if Detroit would be interested in a swap of Jimmy Howard or Carolina with Cam Ward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen’s contract will likely ensure he returns with the Stars next season. There’s not better options available via free agency and the Stars will have to pick up part of his contract if they try to trade him.
Lamoriello open to shopping Devils’ first-round pick.
NJ.COM’s Rich Chere recently reported via Twitter: “Devils will keep 1st overall pick if they win the lottery. Lamoriello said he’d consider trading 1st round pick if team doesn’t win lottery.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At the 2013 draft, Lamoriello dealt his first-round pick to Vancouver for Corey Schneider, a move which worked out very well for the Devils. If they don’t win the draft lottery, Lamoriello could trade that pick for a good young scoring forward.