Latest on Travis Hamonic, Kyle Okposo, Vladimir Sobotka and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Updates on Hamonic and Okposo.
TSN 1200 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie thinks New York Islanders GM Garth Snow will try to accommodate defenseman Travis Hamonic’s request for a trade to a Western Canadian team, but he wants to get a fair deal and that won’t be easy, citing Hamonic’s contract and the minutes he plays. Still, McKenzie believes Snow will work on that at the draft. He also believes pending UFA right wing Kyle Okposo is as good as gone.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of speculation over the course of this season suggesting a swap of Hamonic to the Winnipeg Jets for Jacob Trouba or Tyler Myers. However, the Jets could be unwilling to part with either guy.
Trouba’s also coming off an entry-level contract. Given Snow’s tendency to play hard ball with those types of RFAs and the Trouba camp supposedly shooting for over $6 million per season, maybe the Isles GM doesn’t want that headache. Myers’ current injury status (knee surgery this week, hip surgery slated for the offseason) likely takes him out of the equation.
As for Okposo, I agree with McKenzie’s assessment. He’ll hit the free-agent market this summer and will likely land a long-term deal worth around $6 million per season.
Expansion Could Cost Lightning a Goalie via Trade.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith recently reported an expansion draft could leave Lightning GM Steve Yzerman facing a difficult choice between starting goalie Ben Bishop and promising Andrei Vasilevskiy. “It’d be either trade one of them this summer or by next season’s deadline, or risk having one picked for nothing,” wrote Smith. That draft could also affect the length of the new contracts Yzerman offers to restricted free agents this summer like “Vladislav Namestnikov,J.T. Brown, etc”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once Yzerman sorts out the Steven Stamkos contract situation by July 1, we’ll get a better idea of what his plans might be for an expansion draft. I wouldn’t be surprised if he retains Bishop and Vasilevskiy for next season. With Bishop eligible for UFA status next summer, and assuming the expansion draft is held next June, Yzerman could leave him exposed in the draft, gambling that an expansion club won’t waste their time selecting a player who could bolt via free agency. If Vasilevskiy outplays Bishop next season, then the choice becomes even easier for the Bolts GM.
Latest from TSN’s “Insider Trading.”
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports forward Vladimir Sobotka, who left the St. Louis Blues two years ago for Omsk of the KHL on a three-year deal, has a one-month window in June to decide if he’ll opt out of his contract and return to the Blues, who hold his rights. LeBrun claims all indications are he could rejoin the Blues next season and fulfill the one-year contract he still owes them.
Darren Dreger reports Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said his club won’t make any decisions regarding pending UFA blueliners Kris Russell, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers until after the playoffs.
LeBrun believes Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr wants to return for another season but also wants to see how he feels physically and mentally following the playoffs. Panthers management also told pending UFA blueliner Brian Campbell last month they want him back, but they’ve decided to wait until after the playoffs to talk contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No offense to LeBrun, but we’ve heard this speculation before about Sobotka and he stayed in the KHL. It might be different this time, but I’ll believe it when I see the official report stating he’s returning to the Blues next season.
The info on the Stars and Panthers UFAs isn’t rumor or speculation but it’s interesting to see what their plans are regarding their key free agents. They obviously want to see how those players perform in the postseason before deciding how much to invest in offers to bring them back..