Get the latest on Ryan Johansen, Wayne Simmonds, an updated list of next summer’s top potential UFAs and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it’s unsurprising Nashville Predators GM David Poile inquired about Colorado’s Matt Duchene, Columbus’ Ryan Johansen and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Indeed, Poile last week acknowledged he’s asking about forwards while those clubs he’s spoken with are asking about one of his defensemen. The Predators need another offensive forward (especially a center), but Poile is reluctant to part with Shea Weber, Roman Josi or Seth Jones. Friedman cites a couple of NHL executives saying Weber’s age is an issue (“you should not be trading a 23-year-old for a 30-year-old.”) plus he’s still due nearly $30 million in bonus payouts over the next three seasons and there’s some concern over the lingering effects of his injury last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Poile wants Duchene, Johansen or Nugent-Hopkins, it’s gonna cost him Josi or Jones. If he’s unwilling to move either guy, and if Weber’s issues make him tough to move, then he’ll have to pursue a short-term fix (Carolina’s Eric Staal?) before the trade deadline, which won’t cost him one of his big three blueliners.
The difference between Columbus Blue Jackets’ coach John Tortorella’s current clashing with center Ryan Johansen and his butting heads over a decade ago with Vincent Lecavalier while with the Tampa Bay Lightning is Bolts GM Jay Feaster said Torts wouldn’t be fired and Lecavalier wouldn’t be traded. In other words, Feaster forced them to work together. The Blue Jackets, however, made it clear that no one, not even Johansen, was untouchable after their awful start to this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Great point by Friedman. I think it’s safe to say Tortorella isn’t going anywhere, which puts the onus on Johansen to adapt or be dealt. If the latter happens, I still think it takes place in the offseason, though Friedman noted there was some speculation suggesting the 23-year-old center could’ve been moved before the current holiday trade freeze.
Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher acknowledged he could use his depth at defense to bolster the rest of his lineup. The Wild need help at center and Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if he took a run at Johansen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: StarTribune.com’s Michael Russo suggested this nearly a month ago. I think Fletcher would love to add Johansen, but he’s got to make the dollars fit in the long term. He’s currently got over $28 million tied up in just four forwards (Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek), but Vanek’s $6.5 million cap hit comes off the books in 2017, just when Johansen becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
Friedman wonders if Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning might try to add pieces he can flip elsewhere.
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin was in Philadelphia last week on Team Canada business, not to scout Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. One GM told Friedman, ” “Do you think Marc Bergevin needs to go to Philadelphia to see that Wayne Simmonds is good? Everyone already knows that. Without going there.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every time a rival GM shows up in a city, some pundits and bloggers go nuts. More often than not, they’re there for other reasons besides scouting for a trade. And no, I don’t see the Flyers trading Simmonds.
Current AHL players who might move are Nicklas Jensen (Vancouver Canucks) and Ty Rattie (St. Louis Blues). They’re both close to waiver eligibility.
List of 2016’s top potential NHL UFAs.
USA TODAY: Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos tops Kevin Allen’s list of next summer’s top potential NHL UFAs. Other notables include Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd, Los Angeles’ Milan Lucic, Carolina’s Eric Staal and St. Louis’ David Backes. Allen excluded Kings center Anze Kopitar, as recent reports indicate he’s close to a new multi-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if half the players on Allen’s list are eventually re-signed between now and July 1, next summer’s UFA market will still be the deepest in years. And if Stamkos is available by then, the bidding war could get crazy. Even with the possibility of only a marginal increase in the salary cap for 2016-17, there will be teams willing to risk blowing up their budgets for a shot at signing Stamkos.