No April Fooling here, just the latest on the Red Wings, Wild and Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.
Red Wings could face offseason goalie question.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa reports the current struggles of Petr Mrazek and the recent improvement of Jimmy Howard raises questions over how the Red Wings could address their goaltending in the offseason. He believes the Wings will have to decide if they’ll keep two goalies next season that could cost a combined $10 million in salary or if they’ll move one of them “in a trade that might prove critical for the future.” Mrazek is a restricted free agent earning over $733K this season and due a significant raise, while Howard is earning $5.3 million annually on a long-term deal. Given the Wings disappointing performance this season, GM Ken Holland could face an active summer.
MLIVE.COM: In his weekly mailbag, Ansar Khan also addressed the Wings goaltending. He believes Mrazek’s struggles could throw a monkey wrench into their offseason plans, as it was assumed Howard would be shopped this summer. He also speculates Mrazek’s recent play hurts the goalie’s chances of landing a long-term extension, suggesting instead the Wings could offer up a two-year bridge deal while hanging onto Howard for next season as insurance. Khan doubts they’ll trade Mrazek because of his recent slump.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland won’t trade Mrazek, but I think the young netminder’s inconsistency will lead to a bridge contract. He’ll likely look into Howard’s trade value this summer. If Holland moves Howard, however, he’ll have to find a suitable backup as a replacement. I think it makes sense to re-sign Mrazek and bring back Howard for next season. As they can only protect one goalie in the expansion draft, they can expose Howard in hopes an expansion club will take him and his cap hit.
Updates on the Wild and Coyotes.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo recently replied to questions from his readers regarding the Minnesota Wild. If players with no-movement clauses must be protected in the expansion draft, he speculates the Wild could be forced to expose Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon to ensure the minimum 25 percent of cap payroll that must be left unprotected. He believes it would be difficult for the Wild to acquire center Leon Draisaitl from the Edmonton Oilers, but considers Connor McDavid their only untouchable. Russo also considers it more likely the Wild will buy out Thomas Vanek this summer than Jason Pominville, as the latter is more costly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Russo points out, we’ll have to wait and see what the rules for players carrying NMCs will be for the expansion draft. That decision could prove costly to the Wild. I don’t believe the Oilers intend to move Draisaitl, who’s put up 50 points in 69 games this season and will only continue to improve. Vanek will be bought out this summer. Pominville won’t be, for obvious reasons.
USA TODAY: If the Arizona Coyotes are to trade up in this year’s draft, Kevin Allen believes their chances of moving up to the No. 4 pick to select left wing Matthew Tkachuk, son of former Coyotes stars Keith Tkachuk, are more realistic than attempting to acquire the first-overall selection and the rights to Arizona native Auston Matthews. “The Tkachuk scenario is far more sensible than all of the fan talk about the Coyotes offering Oliver Ekman-Larsson and a blend of prospects and first-round picks to land Matthews.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of course Allen is spitballing here, but his scenario indeed makes a lot more sense than packaging up their top defenseman to acquire the rights to Matthews.