Updates on Vladimir Tarasenko, expendable wingers on the Edmonton Oilers and more Dallas Stars speculation in your NHL rumor mill.
Does Tarasenko face an uncertain future with the Blues?
SPORTSNET 960 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Despite Vladimir Tarasenko being in the first year of an eight-year contract, Elliotte Friedman claims there’s quietly been some rumblings the Blues aren’t satisfied with him. Friedman notes Tarasenko’s reduced ice time and the decline in his scoring over the course of the playoffs. He wonders if they’ll re-examine his place with the club after this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it’s far too early to start speculating over Tarasenko’s future with the Blues. He was among this season’s top NHL goal scorers and reached 40 goals for the first time. He’s only 24 and will remain part of the Blues future for a long time.
Perhaps the reason he’s struggled in this year’s playoffs is he’s feeling greater expectations compared to his last two postseasons, when he was still considered an up-and-coming player. Teams are also more aware of how dangerous he is and putting greater focus on shutting him down.
Updates on the Oilers.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes every Edmonton Oilers winger except Taylor Hall and Patrick Maroon are expendable this summer.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough cited an interview given by Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli yesterday with Sportnet where he acknowledged he’ll consider all options regarding his first-round pick (fourth overall) in this year’s draft. He’ll also consider all options to improve his club. Brough notes defense is Chiarelli’s priority, and believes he’ll listen if a blueliner such as Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets or Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks becomes available in the trade market. Chiarelli also admitted the club owes it to their long-suffering fans to improve in a relatively short period of time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All eyes will be on the Oilers in the week leading up to the draft weekend on June 24-25. Chiarelli could package that fourth overall pick with a winger like Eberle for a top-two defenseman. He could also offer up one of his good young forwards in a one-for-one swap and use that draft pick for another deal.
Latest on the Stars.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika believes the Stars could keep their goaltending tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi intact for next season, rather than try to trade one of them or buy them out. He cites the difficulty of trying to move one of them and the expense of buying out one of their contracts. He doesn’t rule out the possibility the Stars begin the season with those two but keep an eye on the trade deadline if there’s a need for an upgrade.
Heika also believes the odds are slim that pending UFAs Travis Moen, Jason Demers and Kris Russell return. They also face a difficult decision with veteran forwards Vernon Fiddler and Patrick Eaves with several promising forwards knocking on the door.
Rick Gosselin thinks the Stars could re-sign pending UFA blueliner Alex Goligoski. He doesn’t believe the Stars will have any interest in New York Rangers winger Rick Nash if he becomes available via trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goligoski played well for the Stars. He’ll be an expensive re-signing but I could see them doing it if the term and dollars are reasonable. He might accept less than market value to remain with a rising team in Dallas.
As for the goaltending, I still think they should try to move one of them or consider a buyout this summer, but Heika raises a good point that it might be worthwhile to bring them back for another season while keeping an eye on the trade market in case an upgrade is needed. They could then try to trade or buy out Lehtonen or Niemi next summer after they’ve burned off a year of their contract. They could also expose one of them in an expansion draft next summer.