Latest on the Bruins, Rangers, Maple Leafs and Senators in your Sunday Rumor Roundup.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins weren’t happy with goaltender Tuukka Rask’s performance this season, but they’re not going to trade him. He believes the Bruins must provide Rask with a better backup goaltender, noting LA Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth and Florida Panthers backup Al Montoya are unrestricted free agents in July. Shinzawa feels either guy will be an upgrade over Jonas Gustavsson.
Shinzawa believes New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton must find a taker for defenseman Dan Girardi and his albatross of a contract ($5.5 million annually through 2019-2020).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask could’ve benefited from a better defense in front of him, but Shinzawa’s correct when he notes he needed a better backup. I think we’ll see them address that issue in the offseason. As for the Rangers and Girardi, that’s a tough sell. In addition to his age (32) and annual salary, he’s also got a full no-movement clause. Even if Girardi agreed to be dealt, the Blueshirts could be forced to pick up part of his salary or take back a toxic contract.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports the Maple Leafs still lack a quality goaltender, noting Jonathan Bernier is returning next season only because he’s got a year left on his contract. He believes an upgrade between the pipes could accelerate the Leafs’ rebuild. He speculates there could be goaltenders available via trade if the NHL announces an expansion draft for next June. Under that scenario, a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning will want to get something of value for Ben Bishop or Andrei Vasilevskiy rather than lose one for them for nothing to the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could try to address that problem this summer. They were scouting Anaheim Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen toward the end of the regular season. There’s slim pickings via free agency, where James Reimer is the best of the UFA crop for goalie. I doubt they’ll bring him back to Toronto. I could see a scenario whereby they acquire Andersen and perhaps add another if an expansion draft forces some teams into the trade market.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes the Senators should make a pitch for Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos if he becomes available via free agency by making him an offer he can’t refuse. Such a bold move would get disenchanted fans back. While it will cost money, Brennan believes the Senators could lose money if they don’t do something to reverse their fortunes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ok, this isn’t so much a rumor as a suggestion from an Ottawa sportswriter. While it’s possible the Senators could sign Stamkos to a monstrous contract, it’s also highly unlikely to happen. I don’t believe Sens owner Eugene Melnyk will agree to signing a player for over $11 million per season on a seven-year deal, which is what it’ll take to get Stamkos’ attention in the UFA market. The Senators currently have over $53 million invested in 17 players for 2016-17. They usually don’t spend toward the cap ceiling. Signing Stamkos would push their payroll for next season toward $65 million.