Updates on the Red Wings, Islanders and Sharks, plus the latest on Dion Phaneuf.
Latest on the Red Wings.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the Detroit Red Wings won’t be hampered by a salary-cap crunch for next season. They currently have over $56 million invested in 18 players. That gives them ample room to re-sign their own free agents and explore this summer’s thin UFA market. They could be in the mix for a right-shooting defenseman like Washington’s Mike Green or Nashville’s Cody Franson. Khan speculates they might revisit trade talks with Toronto regarding defenseman Dion Phaneuf. GM Ken Holland acknowledged the lack of depth in the UFA pool, and cautions that it could be difficult finding a complimentary player via trade or free agency.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James notes the Maple Leafs wanted Anthony Mantha as part of the return for Phaneuf, which the Wings were unwilling to do. Though Mantha’s stock has dropped this season, the Wings don’t want to trade him. Top prospect Dylan Larkin remains untouchable. Acquiring a high-end player could also cost them a good young player like Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds as though the Wings prefer to build from within. While I don’t doubt Holland could revisit his interest in Phaneuf, it sounds like the Leafs will have to accept a lesser prospect than Larkin and Mantha as part of the return. I certainly don’t expect them to part with a player like Tatar or Nyquist. While Holland could possibly sign a top player in this summer’s UFA market, I doubt he overpays for the privilege. I think he learned his lesson after paying too much for Stephen Weiss a couple of years ago.
Latest Islanders speculation.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports the New York Islanders need a permanent left wing for the John Tavares line. He notes aging forwards Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis could be available this summer but “neither might fit the Islanders mold going forward.” Vancouver Canucks forward Shawn Matthias could be intriguing but he could also be in high demand in the UFA market. Staples suspects Isles GM Garth Snow could add a third-pairing defenseman. They would likely welcome Michal Neuvirth back as Jaroslav Halak’s backup but he’s likely to depart via free agency. Speedy winger Michael Grabner has only a year remaining on his contract and could be a trade chip for a player or a draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a top-line left wing will be expensive. There’s really nothing available via free agency, and a trade will cost them one of their good young players plus a top prospect or a high draft pick. Given Grabner’s recent injury history the Isles could test his trade value this summer.
Possible goalie targets for the Sharks.
CSNBAYAREA.COM: Kevin Kurz, responding to a reader’s e-mail, believes the San Jose Sharks will target a goaltender in his mid-to-late twenties who can be with the team for a few years. Options could include “Scott Darling or Antti Raanta (Chicago); Jonathan Bernier (Toronto); Dustin Tokarski (Montreal); Cam Talbot (New York Rangers); Robin Lehner (Ottawa); Nicklas Svedberg (Boston) and Michal Neuvirth (New York Islanders, and a pending unrestricted free agent).” Kurz doesn’t expect the Sharks will have interest in Chicago’s Corey Crawford or Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, as they’re carrying lengthy and expensive contracts plus they’re both over 30. He also speculates the Sharks could be interested in even younger prospects like “like Philipp Grubauer in Washington, Malcolm Subban in Boston, or Andrey Vasilevskiy or Kristers Gudlevskis from Tampa Bay.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Antti Niemi’s tenure with the Sharks is over and Alex Stalock has yet to prove he can seize the starter’s job. The Sharks will acquire a starting goaltender via trade or free agency this summer. Their best options include Talbot and Bernier (if the Leafs opt to part with him). The Canadiens might move Tokarski if they feel Zach Fucale is ready to become Carey Price’s understudy. Lehner has promise but also an injury history. Raanta will likely be available as I don’t see the Blackhawks parting with Darling and I think they’ll stick with Crawford. The Wings apparently aren’t parting with Howard. If the Leafs decide to part ways with James Reimer, he could also interest the Sharks.
More Phaneuf speculation.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports five teams contacted the Toronto Maple Leafs following the trade deadline to discuss their continuing interest in defenseman Dion Phaneuf. “Among the five were the Boston Bruins, where former GM Peter Chiarelli is now in Edmonton.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples did a good job dismantling that rumor. Besides, if the Oilers are on Phaneuf’s no-trade list, it’s a moot point.