Check out recent speculation on Mike Hoffman, Jordan Eberle, Cam Ward and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from Shinzawa’s “Sunday Hockey Notes.”
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa doesn’t expect smooth contract negotiations between the Ottawa Senators and pending restricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman. While his numbers (27 goals in 79 games last season, 25 in 64 this season) favor him in arbitration, Senators management wants to see how well he performs down the stretch before making what GM Bryan Murray calls “a real commitment” contract-wise. Shinzawa speculates the small-market Senators could move Hoffman if they can’t reach an agreement on a new deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Hoffman will be shopped in the offseason, especially if his play doesn’t improve over the remainder of the season. There will be plenty of interest in him, perhaps enough to fetch a good player in return.
Shinzawa also speculates Edmonton Oilers wingers Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov are most at risk of being moved in the offseason for blueline depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the two, Yakupov is the most expendable, though his stock has dropped to the point where he won’t fetch a skilled top-four blueliner on his own. He’ll have to be bundled into a larger deal.
Unless Carolina Hurricanes goaltender and pending unrestricted free agent Cam Ward is willing to “work for minimum wage,” Shinzawa thinks he could be out of the league next season. He cites Ward’s declining play and the preference of clubs to acquire younger, cheaper goalies with more upside.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lack of depth for experienced goalies in this summer’s UFA and trade markets could also work to Ward’s benefit. Granted, he won’t get another lucrative long-term deal, but I suspect a club in need of goaltending depth (like, say, the Calgary Flames) could give Ward a serious look, especially if they can get him on an affordable one-year deal.
Updates on the Avalanche and Oilers.
THE DENVER POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Chambers responded to a question about possible UFA targets for the Colorado Avalanche. He believes they need a steady top-four defenseman like Jason Demers or Kris Russell of the Dallas Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. The Avs are still among the league’s worst defensive teams. They need a reliable stay-at-home defender.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis recently wondered if Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will find a way to move struggling forward Lauri Korpikoski, who was acquired by Chiarelli last June in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes. Moving Korpikoski via trade could be difficult, as he carries a $2.5 million annual cap hit while earning $3 million in actual salary. Buying him out would cost the Oilers nearly $2 million, Willis advocates burying him in the minors if a trade or buyout isn’t feasible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or Chiarelli could opt to bring Korpikoski back next season and see if his performance improves.