Updates on the Canadian NHL teams, Steven Stamkos, & more in your NHL rumor mill.
P.K. Subban surfaces in the rumor mill.
TSN (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT) During part of a larger conversation regarding the Montreal Canadiens, Bob McKenzie believes questions will be asked about defenseman P.K. Subban, whose no-trade clause kicks in on July 1. While GM Marc Bergevin “went to the mat” in arbitration two years ago with Subban, it was team owner Geoff Molson who stepped in to ensure a new contract was done. While McKenzie said he’s not saying the Canadiens are going to trade Subban or are planning to go down that road, he wouldn’t be surprised if all options are discussed by management, including Subban, when the season concludes.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan believes it’s very likely Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien will return next season and considers it unlikely Subban gets traded, though he suggested that “anything’s possible.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was inevitable that Subban’s name would pop up again in the rumor chatter. The Canadiens’ “season from hell” is drawing to a close, so naturally there’s speculation over Bergevin’s offseason plans. I don’t believe Molson will approve the trade of his club’s most popular player, whose performance is money in the bank for the Habs even in a bad season like this one. Trading Subban for a scorer addresses one big problem while creating another, that being the huge void on their blueline, one that could take years to fix.
Priority for each NHL Canadian team.
TSN: Frank Seravalli recently listed the top priority for every Canadian NHL team to get back on track. The Calgary Flames need a starting goalie and Seravalli wondered why they didn’t trade for James Reimer before he was dealt to the San Jose Sharks in February. He wonders if the Pittsburgh Penguins might consider moving Marc-Andre Fleury with Matt Murray now in their system. Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard could be other options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has a no-trade clause, but it doesn’t matter because the Penguins aren’t trading him. Murray may be their goaiie of the future, but Fleury remains their goalie of the present. I think the Flames could have serious interest in Andersen. They likely passed on Reimer because of his history of inconsistent play and injuries. However, his current performance with the Sharks could be enticing to the Flames. I’m not as convinced that Howard will be traded this summer as I once was. Petr Mrazek has yet to put together a consistent complete season as a starter.
The Edmonton Oilers need a right-shooting offensive blueliner. Seravalli suggests Anaheim’s Sami Vatanen, Colorado’s Tyson Barrie (though the Avs are looking to bolster their defense) and Dallas’ Jason Demers (who played for Oilers coach Todd McLellan in San Jose) as options. Seravalli believes the Montreal Canadiens need a scoring right winger with size, suggesting Boston’s Loui Eriksson (though he lacks size) and the NY Islanders’ Kyle Okposo as UFA targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen could be available via trade if the Ducks feel he’ll be too costly to re-sign, but the Avs aren’t parting with Barrie. Demers could be an options. As for the Habs, if they want a scoring winger with size, Okposo is the best bet, but he’ll likely seek a long-term deal worth over $6 million per season. Ditto Eriksson.
The Ottawa Senators need top-six scoring help. They were linked to Colorado’s Matt Duchene and Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin during the season. The Toronto Maple Leafs could address their need for a true number-one center if they win the 2016 draft lottery and select Auston Matthews. The Vancouver Canucks must find successors for the aging Sedins while the young Winnipeg Jets roster needs maturation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene recently kissed and made up with Avs head coach Patrick Roy, who was pissed off over the center’s celebrating his 30th goal of the season during a 5-1 loss to St.Louis. Drouin could be available if he still insists on a trade. The Leafs are in the midst of a major rebuild. If they stick with the plan of rebuilding with youth, they won’t be pursuing big-ticket first-line talent. The Canucks must finally engage in a real rebuild, rather than tinkering on the fly. As for the Jets, maybe they maintain the patient route. Certainly would fit with GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s cautious style.
Latest on Stamkos, Nugent-Hopkins, Radulov and more.
TSN: Gary Lawless doubts Steven Stamkos’ recent vascular surgery to remove a blood clot near his right collarbone won’t adversely affect his value on the free-agent market or reduce his asking price. The surgery is expected to resolve the problem and it won’t be a recurring issue. Lawless wonders, however, if the surgery could affect Stamkos’ plans for the upcoming summer regarding his future. He also suggests the Lightning’s playoff performance without Stamkos (sidelined one-to-three months) could affect their efforts to re-sign Stamkos..
NHL.COM: Among the ways Dan Rosen suggest the best way to “un-damage” the Edmonton Oilers is by trading center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for hopefully a top-pair defenseman, dealing away winger Nail Yakupov, find bottom-six forwards with speed and signing a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. He suggests Nugent-Hopkins could be a good fit with the Minnesota Wild, who need help at center and have blueline depth to interest the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins’ $6 million per season salary won’t be easy for the cap-strapped Wild to pick up unless they can send salary the other way, perhaps by moving Jared Spurgeon (a right-handed shot) and his new contract worth $5.1 million per season.
Rosen speculates the Buffalo Sabres could be an interesting landing spot for Steven Stamkos via free agency this summer as they’re close to his Toronto hometown, though that move would push either Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly to the wing. They could also look at Boston’s Loui Eriksson, Los Angeles’ Milan Lucic or Colorado’s Mikkel Boedker. He also doubts Stamkos’ recent surgery will adversely affect his value in the UFA market, though he’ll likely have to first pass a medical screening by interested teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Sabres were briefly linked to Stamkos earlier this season, I don’t think he’s the right fit for them. Stamkos wants to play center, but the Sabres are already set at that with O’Reilly and Eichel, with the latter going to be their first-line guy in the very near future. If they’re to pursue a top-six forward, Eriksson, Lucic or Boedker are better – and more affordable – choices.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton recently noted a report out of Russia linked KHL forward and former Nashville Predator Alex Radulov with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and New York Islanders. He suspects several other clubs could kick the tires on Radulov.