Possible offseason moves by the Capitals and Travis Hamonic withdraws his trade request are the big topics in today’s NHL rumor mill.
What next for the Capitals?
ESPN.COM: In the immediate aftermath of the Washington Capitals playoff elimination, Craig Custance advises management not to overreact by blowing up the roster following yet another early playoff exit. He notes GM Brian MacLellan said this season was the first of a two-year Stanley Cup window. If he sticks by that plan, there won’t be major roster changes this summer. Custance also recommends re-signing center Evgeny Kuznetsov to a long-term extension and tinker with their depth players by letting Mike Richards and Jason Chimera depart via free agency in favor of younger depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As heartbreaking as this playoff elimination is for the Capitals, I don’t think they need to shake things up. Adding some speed to their depth lines might be a good idea for next season.
I’m sure there will be some “bold” observer who’ll call upon MacLellan to trade captain Alex Ovechkin by claiming the Caps can’t win with him, but that would be a bad move. Ovechkin (two goals, five assists for seven points) outperformed Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (two assists) and Evgeni Malkin (a goal and an assist) in this series. He had two points in each of the elimination games against the Penguins in this series.
Kuznetsov had a tremendous regular season but managed only three points in 12 playoff games. Can’t help but wonder what effect that might have upon his contract talks. I don’t believe he or any of the other core Capitals players are in any danger of being moved this summer.
Latest on the Islanders.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders got some good news yesterday, as defenseman Travis Hamonic has withdrawn the trade request he made last summer. Claiming the health of a family member has stabilized, Hamonic expressed his desire to remain with the Islanders. GM Garth Snow attempted to honor Hamonic’s request during the season, exploring trades with the Winnipeg Jets and other clubs close to the blueliner’s home province of Manitoba, but couldn’t find any suitable deals.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: With Hamonic off the trade block, David Staples suggests “Sami Vantanen of the Ducks, Tyson Barrie of Avs and unrestricted free agent Jason Demers of the Stars.” as trade options for the Edmonton Oilers.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe also notes Hamonic’s rescinding his trade request and reflected on the rumors linking Jets blueliners such as Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and even Dustin Byfuglien to a potential trade for the Isle’s rearguard.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak could be a trade piece this summer. He cites backup Thomas Greiss’ performance filling in for the sidelined Halak down the stretch and in the playoffs plus management remains infatuated with promising J-F Berube. The club won’t maintain a three-goal system for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And so we bid adieu to the Hamonic trade speculations and scenarios that provided so much entertainment and discussion since his trade request was revealed last November. It was a good run. On a serious note, I’m happy for Hamonic that his ill family member is doing better. The Isles organization as a whole deserves credit for how well they handled this situation.
As for Halak, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Isles attempt to trade him, but given his injury history and $4.5 million annual cap hit through 2017-18, he won’t be easy to move. Since 2010-11, he’s missed a total of 73 games to injuries and illness.