Latest on Jimmy Howard and Dustin Byfuglien, plus an update on the Pittsburgh Penguins defense.
Could Jimmy Howard be a long-term option for the Oilers?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples takes note of speculation suggesting the Detroit Red Wings could put goalie Jimmy Howard on the trade block if Petr Mrazek takes over the starter’s job this season. Rumors list the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and Buffalo Sabres as possible trade destinations. Citing Howard’s age, performance and contract, Staples doesn’t consider him a good option for the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Howard gets shopped at some point during the upcoming season or next summer, there will be teams desperate for a goaltending upgrade willing to take a chance on him. If Cam Talbot struggles as a starter this season, Oilers management could consider Howard among their options, perhaps believing a change of scenery might do him good. Still, Staples makes a good argument against acquiring him.
Should the Jets trade or re-sign Dustin Byfuglien?
SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon wonders if the Winnipeg Jets should re-sign defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to a long-term deal or trade him and save some money. Byfuglien’s rocket shot, size, physical presence and versatility makes him a worthwhile asset for the Jets, but he’ll be seeking a big raise over his current $5.2 million annual cap hit. Given the Jets depth on defense and their reputation as a cost-conscious club, it might make sense to shop Byfuglien to address other roster needs. Dixon suggests the Jets sit tight and see how this season plays out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of next summer’s star-studded class of potential UFAs, it’s Byfuglien who’s garnered the most attention in this summer’s rumor mill. That’s because of the Jets’ reputation as a budget team, their increasing blueline depth and questions about their goaltending and scoring punch at forward. I don’t think the Jets will shop Byfuglien now, preferring to see how this season shakes out, but I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of a move near the trade deadline.
Could the Penguins shop a forward for a defenseman?
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford reports blueline depth is the biggest question facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015-16. GM Jim Rutherford is willing to gamble on his young defensemen (like Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot) stepping up this season. If necessary, Rutherford feels he can draw up his forward depth to acquire a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE; Rutherford could attempt to move a pending UFA like David Perron, or perhaps an aging veteran like Chris Kunitz or Pascal Dupuis.