Latest on the Blues, Bruins and Blackhawks, plus updates on Devan Dubnyk and Matt Beleskey.
Hitchcock re-signing could spur changes for the Blues.
STLTODAY.COM: Following yesterday’s announcement that the St. Louis Blues re-signed head coach Ken Hitchcock to a one-year deal, Jeff Gordon speculated over possible roster changes for the club. Gordon points out the expensive re-signing of superstar winger Vladimir Tarasenko will make it difficult to leave sufficient cap space to woo back Vladimir Sobotka from the KHL. One possible trade target could be defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, though his contract will be difficult to move. Winger T.J. Oshie “seems like an obvious target, given his high trade value, significant salary and unproductive playoff.” So does forward Patrik Berglund, who had an “ineffective regular season.” It’s unlikely long-time Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, who’s an unrestricted free agent, will be re-signed.
TSN 1050 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie also speculates roster changes could be coming for the Blues this summer, suggesting the possibility one or two of their current core players (David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund) could be moved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they’re not making changes behind the bench, the Blues must do something to shake up a roster which has significantly underachieved in the playoffs. They don’t have to gut the lineup, but perhaps replacing one or two core players whilst giving younger stars like Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz more responsibility could be what’s needed to get them over the hump. They also need a reliable playoff goaltender. That’s not a knock against Jake Allen, who might be that guy down the road but currently lacks experience. I’ve read suggestions about moving either Kevin Shattenkirk or Alex Pietrangelo, but that’s just crazy talk. They won’t move their top-two defensemen.
Latest Bruins speculation.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty speculates over potential salary-cap casualties for the Boston Bruins this summer to free up cap space for other moves and re-signings. He suggests Milan Lucic, Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, Dennis Seidenberg, Reilly Smith and even Zdeno Chara as trade options. As for trade targets for the Bruins, Haggerty reports of talk around the league Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook will be available this summer as they try to free up cap space. He also lists Anaheim Ducks winger Matt Beleskey as a possible free-agent target.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Vancouver Canucks management could have an eye on Bruins UFA defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who could be an affordable addition for Vancouver’s blueline corps.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins must shed salary, and I suspect the likely candidate is Lucic, who’s carrying a $6 million cap hit and is a UFA next summer. Sure, they can try to move Chara, but given his age (38), cap hit (over $6.9 million through 2017-18) and no-movement clause, I doubt very much he’ll be dealt this summer. Smith could attract some interest, as his cap hit is $3.425 million for the next two seasons. Forget about prying Seabrook out of Chicago. He, Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson are the only experienced defensemen they have under contract for next season. They’ll instead try to move wingers Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell. As for Beleskey, good luck winning the bidding war for his services. His performance in this year’s playoffs and the lack of depth in this summer’s UFA market will ensure he gets an expensive long-term deal.
Latest on the Western Conference Finalists.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle believes trading Bryan Bickell and Corey Crawford is the best path for the Chicago Blackhawks out of their upcoming salary-cap hell, though he acknowledges Crawford is a less-likely candidate to move. He speculates veteran winger Patrick Sharp is another likely option to be moved.
SPORTSNET: Doug MacLean believes the Toronto Maple Leafs should target Anaheim Ducks winger Matt Beleskey if he tests this summer’s UFA market. He speculates a “do-it-all” forward like Beleskey could cost between $3 million-$5 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman quashed the notion of trading Crawford. Bickell and Sharp are the likely trade candidates. The Brent Seabrook trade rumors are wishful thinking for the reason I noted above. Beleskey will likely get an expensive contract if he jumps into the UFA pool, but this season is the only good one he’s had in his NHL career. After making a huge mistake overpaying for David Clarkson two years ago, I’ll be very surprised if the Leafs repeat it with Beleskey. Say what you will about Clarkson, but he at least had a couple of decent seasons under his belt before the Leafs signed him to that crazy, stupid contract. Beleskey could turn out to be a “one-year wonder”.
Updates on the Wild.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo speculates it could cost the Minnesota Wild “well north of $3 million per” to re-sign pending UFA goalie Devan Dubnyk. Russo doubts he’ll accept a two-year deal. A three-year deal means the salary cap hit is more, while spreading it over four or five seasons could make it more comfortable. Russo anticipates the Wild could dangle defenseman Jared Spurgeon as trade bait, while no decision has been made yet for buying out goalie Niklas Backstrom.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild will have to pony up between three-to-five years for Dubnyk if they hope to keep him off the UFA market. I expect it’ll cost between $4 – $5 million annually. They should free up some cap space, so moving Spurgeon and his $3.6 million salary for next season makes sense, especially with Matt Dumba ready to move up among their defense corps.