Latest on the Rangers, Flyers, Red Wings and Wild in your NHL rumor mill.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Andrew Gross wonders what moves New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has in mind for his roster this summer. He doesn’t believe it’s a stretch to assume Gorton could attempt to trade “Rick Nash, Derick Brassard or Derek Stepan (more likely Brassard) and Kevin Klein.” Unless Dan Girardi is bought out, it’s a long shot UFA defenseman Keith Yandle will be re-signed. It doesn’t seem like coach Alain Vigneault has much use for physical defenseman Dylan McIlrath. Gross wonders how patient Gorton is willing to be with RFA forwards Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider. He believes shoring up the defense is the Rangers biggest need.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes defenseman Ryan McDonagh would be the Rangers best trade chip if they truly wish to renovate and rejuvenate their roster. He wonders how much the defense-needy Edmonton Oilers would be willing part with to get McDonough, suggesting the Oilers first-round pick would have to be part of the equation, along with either Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Taylor Hall. He also muses over how much the LA Kings might pay for McDonagh (Tyler Toffoli and/or Tanner Pearson plus?). “Would the Avalanche deal Matt Duchene as part of a package for No. 27? Would the Maple Leafs contemplate dealing Mitch Marner in order to get in on the action? Actually, you’d have to believe 20 teams would ante up for the captain.” The assumption would be the Rangers would re-sign Yandle if they traded McDonagh.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, McDonagh would be the Rangers best trade chip. Yes, he’ll fetch a good return. No, the Rangers won’t get the Oilers first-round pick in 2016 plus either Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins or Hall in return. Or Pearson/Toffolli-plus from the Kings. Or Duchene-plus from the Avalanche. Besides, McDonagh’s not being traded, so it’s a moot point.
Meanwhile, returning to the real world, I expect Gorton will look into moving Nash and Brassard. A Girardi buyout is possible, though as I noted yesterday, it gets pricey in years two ($2.75 million cap hit), three and four ($3.75 million in each year) before settling into a more affordable $1.25 million over the remaining four years. Interesting observation about McIlrath by Gross, which suggests he could be moved out as well. I don’t see Gorton parting with Kreider but I wonder if he’ll have the patient to stick with Hayes.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi looked at the Philadelphia Flyers wish list for next season. While adding Steven Stamkos via free agency is a pipe dream, he suggests St. Louis Blues center David Backes could be a good addition, bumping Sean Couturier back to the third line. New York Islanders’ Kyle Okposo would help at right wing, but GM Ron Hextall only has so much he can spend this summer. Milan Lucic of the LA Kings or Loui Eriksson of the Boston Bruins would fit in nicely at left wing. Carchidi expects aging defenseman Mark Streit to be traded.
Carchidi floats the notion of shopping goaltender Michal Neuvirth for a sniper, suggesting Hextall should at least listen to offers. He also lists Andrew Ladd, Eric Staal, and Mikkel Boedker among other free-agent options. Expecting R.J. Umberger to be bought out, Carchidi projects the Flyers could have around $13.5 million in cap space for 2016-17 under a $74 million salary cap. That won’t leave much after they re-sign Brayden Schenn, Radko Gudas, Nick Cousins, Bradon Manning and perhaps Sam Gagner and Ryan White. Hextall could free up more cap room by shopping Streit ($5.25 million) or winger Matt Read ($3.625 million).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of scenarios here for Hextall, but I don’t see him going hog wild. Forget about moving Neuvirth for a sniper. After Mason’s playoff struggles and Neuvirth’s unbelievable heroics against the Capitals, he’s not going anywhere. I’ll be very surprised if he goes after an expensive UFA like Backes Lucic, Eriksson, Ladd, Staal or Okposo. Boedker might be a good choice if his asking price is reasonable, however, Hextall seems intent on rebuilding via the draft and with trades. Streit could be shopped, but his age (38), salary and partial no-trade makes him tough to move. Read lacks a no-trade, but the decline in his production over the last two years doesn’t make him an attractive trade option. Not saying they can’t move him, but don’t expect much of a return.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland intends to be more aggressive in pursuing trades in the offseason, but he won’t be trading assets for futures as he intends to bolster his roster instead of rebuilding it. In other words, don’t expect a roster tear-down this summer. Holland will also explore free agency, though the market is thin on quality defensemen, which the Wings need for next season. The sole non-support UFA player is Steven Stamkos, but it could cost upwards of $10 million per season to add him. Holland also intends to give more responsibilities next season to younger players such as Dylan Larkin and Andreas Anthanasiou.
Brendan Savage reports Wings veteran goaltender Jimmy Howard acknowledged he’s likely to be on the trade block this summer, but he’s okay with that possibility. He wouldn’t come out and say if he’ll request a trade, only stating that he’ll wait and see what happens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howard will definitely be shopped, though the Wings might have to pick up some of his $5.3 million cap hit through 2018-19. Though some pundits believe he’ll chase Stamkos, I just don’t believe he’ll invest $10 million annually into one player. Besides, he hasn’t had the best of luck in recent years with his pursuit of free agents. That’s why he’s going to be aggressive in the trade market. Howard and forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar seem the most likely trade candidates.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher currently has only around $12 million in cap space “to sign unrestricted free agents, promote from within and re-sign some of its own, including restricted free agents Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba and maybe Darcy Kuemper”. He’ll also have to decide if he’ll buy out the final season of Thomas Vanek’s contract. Vanek missed the playoffs with broken ribs but is expected to be recovered by the buyout period in late-June. That would free up cap space to pursue a free agent forward such as David Backes or Kyle Okposo. Russo expects Kuemper, Zucker and Dumba could become trade candidates. He also wonders if Fletcher will dangle defensemen Jonas Brodin or Marco Scandella to add a scorer, plus he’ll also have to decide if he’ll commit long-term to forwards Mikael Granlund or Nino Niederreiter or use them as trade bait. Both have a year remaining on their contracts. On top of all of this is deciding if interim head coach John Torchetti returns next season as bench boss.
TWINCITIES.COM: Chad Graff also reports Fletcher must sort out the job of head coach. As for the roster, he believes only Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, Devan Dubnyk aren’t going anywhere. “Beyond that, Charlie Coyle and Jared Spurgeon might be the only players who won’t be shopped for a possible trade,” writes Graff. He also believes Thomas Vanek could be a buyout candidate. Because Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba failed to step up in the postseason, they’re likely to be shopped this summer for scoring punch up front.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m expecting significant roster changes for the Wild this summer. Prior to the playoffs I was skeptical about Dumba being traded. Not anymore. He was a big disappointment in the series against the Stars. Granted, he’s still young (he turns 22 in July) and still has room for improvement, but he took a step back in his development this season. Zucker missed 11 games to injury this season, but much more was expected of him. Brodin and Scandalla could also hit the trade block. I don’t see any future in Minnesota for Kuemper. Barring any concerns over his ribs, Vanek will be bought out in June. Granlund and Niederreiter probably won’t be dealt, but they must have better performances next season if they hope to get long-term extensions from the Wild.