Latest on the Red Wings, Peter Chiarelli’s plans for his young Oilers and the latest on Radim Vrbata and (yes, again!) Evgeni Malkin.
What’s in store for the Wings this summer?
THE DETROIT NEWS/DETROIT FREE PRESS/MLIVE.COM: Amid the speculation over Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s future in Detroit are questions over what roster moves GM Ken Holland could have in store this summer. Gregg Krupa notes their developing defensemen aren’t yet capable of carrying the wings to a Stanley Cup Final, while their forward lines could use a dominant sniper. With Petr Mrazek pushing Jimmy Howard in goal, Krupa speculates that depth between the pipes suggests the potential for a roster move. It’s possible they could try to land a secondary defenseman via free agency or swing a trade for Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf. Krupa notes there’s not much scoring talent available this summer via free agency.
Given Mrazek’s strong playoff performance. Helene St. James wonders about Jimmy Howard’s future. He has four years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of over $5.2 million. St. James believes the Wings could listen to offers for Howard but there’s no urgency to move him this summer.
Ansar Khan reports the Wings don’t intend on trading Howard and will give him an opportunity to earn back the starter’s job next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makes sense to retain Howard for next season. Mrazek could struggle under the weight of heightened expectations next season. If he doesn’t and Howard remains in a backup role, the Wings can try shopping him for a scorer or a defenseman during the season.
Malkin’s trade status is still a thing for some pundits.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson acknowledges Pittsburgh Penguins ownership’s publicly-stated intent to keep Evgeni Malkin, though he considers it the “politically correct” thing to do to snuff out trade talk regarding the fading former Stanley Cup contender. Matheson believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford “should call up St. Louis Blues counterpart Doug Armstrong, who may be looking to shake things up with his core, and ask about T.J. Oshie, David Backes and draft picks for Malkin.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also acknowledged the Penguins stated intent to retain Malkin and Sidney Crosby but still believes they should have a “serious internal discussion” about the duo’s future. He cites an NHL GM saying the Pens should think about it “if it they can get back three strong pieces and a first-round draft pick.” Friedman notes Malkin has a full no-movement clause, though he considers it “more of a hurdle than a brick wall.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson will disagree with you, Elliotte. If a player with a full no-movement clause is unwilling to be traded, it is very much a brick wall. Regardless of why the Penguins issued their statement about bringing back Malkin, Crosby, Rutherford and head coach Mike Johnston, they seem sincere about it. Unless Malkin demands a trade this summer, I don’t believe he’ll be dealt.
Assuming the Penguins change their minds about Malkin, it will take a significant return to get him. Oshie, Backes and draft picks won’t do it. After all, if the intent here is to land a return that improves the Penguins’ playoff performance, why bring in two players who failed to achieve that goal for the Blues?
No shakeups for Oilers’ young forwards?
Friedman also reports new Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has no intention of doing anything drastic regarding young forwards Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov. I’m not coming in guns-ablazing…It is very hard to find good players.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He didn’t say anything about Leon Draisaitl, Justin Schultz or the first-overall pick…see what I did there, planing that seed of doubt. Anyway, Chiarelli will obviously evaluate his roster and its needs. He’ll likely keep his ears open for offers but that doesn’t mean he’ll ship out any of those good young forwards this summer.
Could the Canucks trade Vrbata?
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford noted Radim Vrbata wasn’t playing on the Vancouver Canucks top line with the Sedins. Vrbata had a disappointing playoff, prompting Botchford to wonder if the Canucks could consider trading him this summer if he’s not going to be on the Sedin line next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrbata will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. As Botchford points out, the Canucks’ limited cap space and their need to get younger suggests they probably can’t afford to re-sign him. Those factors could make him expendable this summer.