With the regular season over and the playoffs upcoming, here’s the latest on the Bruins, Senators, Oilers and Flames.
Changes coming for the Bruins?
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy believes the Bruins face some tough choices after missing the playoffs for the second straight season. They could be forced to pay big to re-sign RFA defenseman Torey Krug. Failing that, perhaps re-signing pending UFA John-Michael Liles could be an affordable short-term alternative. UFA Kevan Miller could be cut loose. Conroy expects they’ll try to move aging blueliner Dennis Seidenberg but could be forced to eat part of his remaining contract. He wonders if management might try to convince captain Zdeno Chara to waive his no-movement clause, something he’s had no previous interest in do so far. They’re likely to lose Loui Eriksson to free agency, but Conroy suspects they could re-sign Lee Stempniak if his asking price is reasonable. Max Talbot won’t be re-signed, and Conroy speculates winger Jimmy Hayes might benefit from a change of scenery.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty believes it’s time the Bruins made some big, sweeping changes, starting with head coach Claude Julien. He believes “anybody not named Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak should be considered in play for trades.” While Chara, goalie Tuukka Rask and center David Krejci have no-movement clauses, maybe they might be willing to waive them given the team’s current direction. “Perhaps Chara will be willing to be a difference-maker as a No. 3 or No. 4 D-man on a Cup-level team, and agree to team up with one of his Slovakian buddies in Los Angeles (Marian Gaborik) or Chicago (Marian Hossa), or head to one of the Florida teams where he already makes a home in the offseason anyway.” Haggerty also suggests buying out the remainder of Seidenberg’s contract to free up cap space to re-sign Torey Krug and Brad Marchand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug’s an RFA with arbitration rights who made $3.4 million this season. The Bruins should be prepared to pony up over $5 million annually on a long-term extension if they wish to avoid an arbiter-awarded contract. Buying out Seidenberg could be easier than trying to trade him. Even by picking up part of his $4 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons, I don’t see many takers for a 34-year-old blueliner who hasn’t been the same since his knee surgery.
Chara’s got two more seasons left on his contract. Even though his cap hit drops in 2017-18 to $4 million, I don’t see the cap-strapped Kings or Blackhawks taking him on, and I don’t believe he fits into the Lightning’s plans. The Panthers might listen. They could lose Brian Campbell to free agency this summer and they have a recent trade history with the Bruins.
Given the limited replacement options via this summer’s trade and free-agent markets, trading Rask would be a dumb move. Shipping out Krejci leaves only Patrice Bergeron and a handful of untested kids at center, so I doubt they’ll entertain that notion.
Updates on the Oilers, Flames and Senators.
EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson speculates if Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli trades winger Nail Yakupov “it’ll likely be for a bigger body at forward who plays a different style. Maybe somebody like Marcus Foligno in Buffalo, along with a draft pick.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After putting up 20 points in 57 games last season, the 24-year-old Foligno regressed this season with only 23 in 75 games. Perhaps this could be a swap of two players in need of a change of scenery.
CALGARY SUN: In their season-ending assessment of the Flames, pundits Kristen Odland, Wes Gilbertson and Eric Francis agree the club’s top offseason priority is improving the goaltending. Odland wonders if they pursue a free agent (Cam Ward, Frederik Andersen, Ben Scrivens, Michael Hutchinson) in the interim or pursue a trade. Francis wonders if they “pry Ben Bishop, Mike Smith, Frederik Andersen, Jimmy Howard, Antti Raanta or Ryan Miller from their squads or do they go the UFA route with James Reimer, Cam Ward, Karri Ramo or Anders Lindback? Or do they take a chance on someone they find in Europe?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Bishop is willing to waive his NMC to go to Calgary , the Flames aren’t prying him away from the Lightning. Indeed, I suspect the Bolts will retain him for another season. Ditto Mike Smith and his NTC, though the Coyotes would probably love to shed his hefty contract. Howard seemed a certainty to be dealt, but his recent improvement combined with Petr Mrazek’s struggles down the stretch makes that possibility seem less likely. I don’t think the Canucks want to move Miller. Besides, at 35, he’s not the answer for the Flames. Raanta is at best a backup, not a starter. Ward is well past his prime. Like Raanta, Lindback is a backup. They’ve already done the Ramo experiment. The best options could be Andersen (if he and the Ducks cannot work out a suitable new deal) or Reimer via free agency.
OTTAWA SUN: With Bryan Murray handing over the GM duties to Pierre Dorion, Bruce Garrioch speculates Senators head coach Dave Cameron faces long odds to keep his job. It could take some time to determine his fate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Cameron has coached his final game with the Senators. It’s only a matter of time until he’s replaced in the offseason. The Senators were this season’s worst defensive team. That’s what killed their playoff hopes. Since 2012, they rode a hot goalie (Craig Anderson in 2012 and 2013, Andrew Hammond in 2015) into the postseason. The overworked tandem couldn’t help the Sens this season.