Updates on Steven Stamkos, Mike Richards, Rick Nash, Radim Vrbata and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports any player on a one-year contract is eligible on Jan. 1 to sign an extension. Among the notables are Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker, Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, Washington’s Marcus Johansson, Boston’s Torey Krug, Detroit’s Petr Mrazek, Edmonton’s Anders Nilsson and Cam Talbot, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman and Chicago’s Marcus Kruger. Boedker, Jagr and Talbot are slated to become UFAs in July, while the others are RFAs with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boedker and the Coyotes are expected to start contract talks in January. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Panthers re-sign Jagr in the coming months. Talbot, however, will have to significantly improve if he’s to garner a new deal from the Oilers. Some of those RFAs could be re-signed before season’s end, but their respective clubs don’t have to rush.
Friedman cites a couple of sources suggest the San Jose Sharks could be eyeing UFA center Mike Richards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports Sharks coach Peter DeBoer, who coaches Richards in junior, admitted he’s stayed in contact with the troubled center, who’s awaiting trial in January after allegedly trying to enter Canada in possession of a controlled substance (oxycondone). However, DeBoer claims it was strictly on a personal basis.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik remains optimistic that his club can re-sign captain and pending UFA Steven Stamkos, Friedman believes Stamkos’ first choice is to stay, but he has to find out what the club truly thinks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Vinik wants Stamkos re-signed, he can simply tell GM Steve Yzerman to get it done, even if it means paying the center a huge contract. Wouldn’t be the first time an owner had a hand in re-signing a star player. In 2014, Canadiens owners Geoff Molson intervened after GM Marc Bergevin and defenseman P.K. Subban failed to get a deal done before the latter’s arbitration hearing.
If the New York Rangers miss the playoffs, Friedman wonders what draft picks they might get for trading pending UFAs Dominic Moore or Keith Yandle. Friedman also suggests “if they want to go really big” they could test Rick Nash’s trade value, though he has “no-trade” protection. If that happens, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers took a run at Stamkos via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are struggling defensively. In the past, they could rely on the superb goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist, but since early-December he’s been mired in a miserable slump. Granted, there’s sufficient time to rebound and I wouldn’t write them off just yet, but if they tumble well out of playoff contention by late-February, GM Jeff Gorton could shake things up. Moving Yandle is certainly an option, but I don’t see him shipping out Nash. Even if he wanted to, Nash’s no-trade clause and expensive contract is difficult to move during the season. If Gorton overhauls his roster and frees up considerable cap space before July 1, he’ll pursue Stamkos.
The LA Kings “are really doing their research into defencemen who could fill Matt Greene’s role.” Greene is out indefinitely due to shoulder surgery.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis’ recent jaw injury could adversely affect his trade value if the club decides to shop him later in the season. There’s also no evidence management has asked winger Radim Vrbata for a list of preferred trade destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamhuis’ trade value was declining before his injury. Vrbata, on the other hand, will have more value. Of course, that will depend upon where the Canucks are in the standings. If they’re still in the playoff chase, they could hang onto those guys.
Friedman doesn’t expect a huge problem for the Colorado Avalanche to re-sign pending RFA Nathan MacKinnon. He expects their salary bar will be set around MacKinnon, but feels “the final number probably determines some of their other business.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The biggest being RFA blueliner Tyson Barrie, who has arbitration rights this season and could seek over $5.5 million annually.