More expansion speculation plus latest on Jagr, Emelin and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

Expansion draft could affect NHL goalie trade market.

Could Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury be in play in a potential NHL expansion draft?

Could an expansion draft put Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in play? Allan Muir speculates an possible expansion draft next June could lead to an increase in trade activity, as teams try to move unprotected players for draft picks and prospects. As teams can only protect one goaltender, Muir lists “Frederik Andersen (Anaheim); Mike Smith (Arizona), Malcolm Subban (Boston); Semyon Varlamov (Colorado); Antti Niemi and Jack Campbell (Dallas); Jimmy Howard (Detroit); Laurent Brossoit (Edmonton); Darcy Kuemper (Minnesota); Mike Condon (Montreal); J-F Berube (New York Islanders); MacKenzie Skapski (New York Rangers); Andrew Hammond (Ottawa); Marc-André Fleury (Pittsburgh); Philipp Grubauer (Washington); and Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson (Winnipeg)” among those who “could be in play.”

He also points out that list doesn’t include goalies whose contracts expire at the end of next season. That includes such notables as “Scott Darling (Chicago), Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth (Philadelphia) and Brian Elliott (St. Louis).”  Muir predicts there could be some side deals as teams offer up assets to expansion teams to ensure they don’t select a certain unprotected player or prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We could see the effects of potential expansion upon the NHL trade market as early as this summer. Andersen, Howard, Kuemper and Pavelec were all mentioned as possible trade candidates this season. If expansion for 2017-18 is confirmed this June, that could increase the possibility of those goalies hitting the trade block this summer.

I don’t see the Penguins parting with Fleury, so they could be among the clubs that might swing a side deal to ensure promising Matt Murray isn’t selected in the expansion draft. If Calvin Pickard can challenge Varlamov for the starter’s job next season, I can see the Avalanche leaving the latter unprotected.

It could get interesting with those goalies slated for free agency next summer. Remember, they will still be under contract with their current clubs if the expansion draft takes place before June 30, 2017. Those players can be exposed in the expansion draft, but expansion clubs could decide it’s too risky to waste a selection on a player with an expiring contact.Their current clubs can then re-sign them once the expansion clubs have made their selections. 

Latest Canadiens and Wild speculation.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Among the topics on a recent Hockey Inside/Out panel chat included a discussion on whether Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr would be a good fit for the Canadiens if he become available via free agency this summer.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie, responding to a reader’s question on Twitter, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Canadiens traded defenseman Alexei Emelin this summer. He notes Emelin’s no-trade clause becomes a modified one in this offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Dale Tallon already expressed interest in bringing back Jagr next season and I anticipate the ageless winger wants to stay in Florida, so forget about him going to the Habs or another club as a UFA. While Emelin’s been the Habs best physical defenseman, there’s a growing sense of frustration over his performance. GM Marc Bergevin could shake things up a bit this summer and Emelin could be among the changes. 

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo responded to some readers’ questions about possible moves this summer by the Minnesota Wild. If he were GM, he says he’d pursue Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk or San Jose’s Logan Couture, but doubts either guy is available. He’s heard chatter about Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, but would avoid Yakupov “like the plague.”  A possible trading partner could be Tampa Bay for winger Jonathan Drouin. Russo also believes goalie Darcy Kuemper should be traded, suggesting the Calgary Flames as a possible option. He also speculates pending RFAs Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund could become trade bait.

As for what the Wild could be looking to add, Russo believes that’s yet to be determined until they know what the salary cap will be and how much it costs to re-sign Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba. If they decide to buy out a player, he believes Thomas Vanek is more affordable than buying out Jason Pominville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has been a disappointing season for the Wild. Even if they manage to grab a wild-card berth, they’re not expected to get past the opening round. Roster changes are coming, and it could involve buying out Vanek or shopping Kuemper, Niederreiter or Granlund to bolster their offense and perhaps add an affordable veteran backup goalie. The Wild need depth at center, which explains why they were linked to Nugent-Hopkins in this season’s rumor mill.