Updates on the Red Wings plus the latest on Steven Stamkos, P.K. Subban, Tyson Barrie and Justin Faulk in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
What next for the Red Wings?
THE DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa believes the Red Wings must deal their way out of their current morass. While they require significant changes, it will take longer than one summer to address them. They’ll have to find a way to shed Pavel Dastyuk’s $7.5 million cap hit for next season if he decides to return to Russia. Doing so could help them pursue a big-ticket free agent this summer. “Steve Stamkos of the Lightning, David Backes of the Blues, Loui Eriksson of the Bruins, Milan Lucic of the Kings and Kyle Okposo of the Islanders are available, but may well have plans that do not include the Wings,” write Krupa. He also suggests packaging Petr Mrazek or Jimmy Howard with Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist or one of their top prospects could fetch a quality return while freeing up cap space, but it will take “daring, sage judgment and dance partners among the other NHL franchises.” He also points out the Wings could use two top-six forwards (especially if Datsyuk leaves) and two first-pairing defensemen.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan also reports the Wings need help offensively and defensively. While suggesting Tatar and Nyquist might be their biggest trade chips, the decline in their production this season also hurts their value. He also notes the quality of top free-agent forwards available this summer, but doubts the Wings will invest over $10 million per season on a single player. As high-end defensemen are harder to come by this summer, the Wings might have to address that need via trade. He notes Winnipeg Jets blueliner Jacob Trouba or Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues might be available. Khan suggests shopping goalie Jimmy Howard but the three years at $5.3 million per season could be difficult to move.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance lists addressing Datsyuk’s contract, taking a run at Steven Stamkos and fixing the defense are the three off-season keys for the Red Wings. Moving out Nyquist or Tatar in order to free up cap space for Stamkos might be necessary. He also recommends the Wings shop for blueline help via the trade market.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen also believes the Wings could try to dump Datsyuk’s contract via trade this summer, as it could help clear cap space to get into the Stamkos sweepstakes. Citing their need to get bigger and more physical up front, he speculates they might have interest in LA Kings left wing Milan Lucic or St. Louis Blues right wing Troy Brouwer. He doubts they’ll find a top-pairing defenseman this summer via trade or free agency and also notes the difficulty in moving Howard. Allen suggest Nyquist or Tatar could be moved.
TSN: Frank Seravalli doubts Datsyuk’s contract will be difficult to move, noting any team that takes on that deal can suspend Datsyuk if he doesn’t play in the NHL this season, meaning they won’t have to pay his $5.5 million in actual salary, though the cap hit of $7.5 million remains. For teams in need of reaching next season’s cap minimum of $55 million (Carolina, New Jersey) without having to pay more in actual salary, this could be a cost efficient way of doing so.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings have a history of diving into the UFA market to address their needs, but in recent years they’ve either missed out on the bigger available names or added veterans who failed to improve their roster. Rather than blowing their brains out again via free agency, it might be best if they consider their options via the trade market while continuing to develop the young players in their system. As Krupa points out, there’s no quick fix here. If they spend on a big-name forward like Stamkos, they won’t have much cap space to address their defensive needs. That could require trading someone like Tatar or Nyquist, though they won’t get returns for either guy that addresses their issues. What moving either player will do is free up more cap space, which they could use to target clubs via trade that must shed salary to become cap compliant for next season.
Latest on Stamkos, Subban, Barrie and Faulk.
SPORTSNET 960 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Elliotte Friedman speculates this summer could be a crazy one for trade rumors involving big name players, especially as the possibility of an expansion draft next summer could force some GMs to consider moving assets via trade they might otherwise lose in that draft. Regarding the suitors this summer for Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, Friedman wonders if the New York Islanders might get into the bidding.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adding Stamkos makes no sense for the Isles, who already have a superstar center and franchise player in John Tavares. Besides, they’ll need to find a suitable replacement for Kyle Okposo at right wing. Adding Stamkos doesn’t address that need.
Friedman also believes Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is willing to listen to offers for defenseman P.K. Subban, provided the offer makes sense for the club and will be one their fans will understand, as they could face a tremendous backlash for dealing the popular Subban.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt very much the Canadiens can find a find a return for Subban that bolsters their offense up front while adequately replacing him on their blueline. That’s the only kind of return Habs fans will understand.
630 CHED (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Friedman suggests Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie could be available for the right price, citing the issues they had trying to re-sign him. Asked about Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Justin Faulk, he believes it’ll take an unbelievable offer for the Hurricanes to part with him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. It could cost over $6 million per season on an eight-year deal to retain him, but the Avs also really can’t afford to further weaken their porous defense by trading him. Unless they’re getting a couple of good young blueliners in return or can address his absence via a separate deal, they’d be crazy to move him. Put any notion of the Hurricanes trading Justin Faulk out of your mind. It’s not happening. He’s signed through 2020 at a very affordable $4.83 million per season.