Possible offseason moves for the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild.
What next for the Flames?
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the Calgary Flames should continue building with young players, suggesting they trade Jiri Hudler or Dennis Wideman (their value has never been higher) if they’ll fetch younger players to build around. Custance also notes the Flames enter the offseason with about $25 million in cap space for next season, suggesting they dip into the UFA market for a quality veteran or two. He suggests forward Antoine Vermette might be a good addition.
CALGARY HERALD: Kristen Odland examines the Flames top free-agent priorities this summer. She speculates one scenario could see the Flames re-sign pending UFA goalie Karri Ramo, promote promising Joni Ortio and shop Jonas Hiller in the offseason if there’s a team willing to pick up the remainder of his contract. She anticipates RFAs Lance Bouma, Micheal Ferland, Mikael Backlund and Josh Jooris will be re-signed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames could shop Hudler and/or Wideman, but I don’t believe they will. Hudler belonged to one of the NHL’s top lines this season, enjoying tremendous chemistry with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Wideman was an invaluable part of the Flames defense corps. While I appreciate the need to continue rebuilding around youth, the Flames still need veteran leadership and skills.
The goaltending situation is certainly intriguing. Hiller has one year left on his contract worth a cap hit of $4.5 million and lacks a no-trade clause. They could go with a Ramo/Ortio tandem but the jury’s still out on both goalies. Say what you will about Hiller but he has NHL experience and won 26 games for the Flames this season. I can see them re-signing Ramo and sticking with Hiller next season.
Should the Oilers pursue Craig Anderson?
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough notes the Ottawa Senators could shop a goaltender if they re-sign Andrew Hammond, and wonders if the Edmonton Oilers might make a play for Craig Anderson. While Anderson has a reasonable contract (three years, $4.2 million per season) and would bring stability to the Oilers’ crease, he’s also turning 34 and has an injury history. Brough also speculates the Oilers could pursue Antti Niemi via free agency, though he’s not sure that’s a certainty if they hire former San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan as their new bench boss.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a quality starting goaltender has to be the Oilers’ priority this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if they kick the tires on Craig Anderson should he become available.
Latest on the Wild.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Rand believes we shouldn’t expect major changes by the Minnesota Wild this summer because of their limited options. Because the Wild are pressed for cap space, Rand speculates management could remain patient with their young players in hopes they’ll step up. Acquiring anyone of consequence would mean parting with “high-end pieces.” He expects the Wild will re-sign goalie Devan Dubnyk.
Michael Russo reports Niklas Backstrom is expected to be bought out, though management would prefer trading him with the willingness to retain some salary and cap charge. “He was signed to a multiyear contract at 35 years old, so the Wild could save one-third of Backstrom’s $4 million salary ($1.3 million) but be charged with his full $3.417 million cap hit,” writes Russo.
TWINCITIES.COM: Chad Graff reports Devan Dubnyk wants to return with the Wild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the Wild fail to re-sign Dubnyk. As Rand points out, both sides are keen to get a new deal done. I was surprised to read the Wild would still be charged the full cap hit for Backstrom even if they bought out his final season. I was under the impression teams could get cap savings for buying out players on “35-plus” contracts. In that instance, it would be better for the Wild to trade Backstrom (if possible) even if they have to pick up part of his remaining salary.