Latest rumors and speculation on the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET 960 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT) Elliotte Friedman doubts a new contract for Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn starts with a 10 (meaning $10 million per season) like the LA Kings’ Anze Kopitar or Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane but feels it could start between $8-$9 million. He speculates Benn will receive between $8.5-$9.5 million on a long-term extension.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika speculates the rise of promising young defensemen such as Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell and Julius Honka could mean none of their pending UFA blueliners (Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, Kris Russell and Jordie Benn) could return, as they could potentially stand in the way of their younger rearguards. Re-signing the four could also take up a good chunk of cap space. If so, he speculates the Stars could add a veteran defenseman by targeting a team with limited cap space and depth on the blueline, such as the Winnipeg Jets or Tampa Bay Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Friedman, I see Benn’s new contract starting with a 10. The guy won the scoring title last season, came second in league scoring this season and is a Hart Trophy finalist. He’s going to get at least $10 million annually because he’s the Stars franchise star and one of the league’s elite players.
As for the defense, Heika is merely speculating that the Stars might cut loose all four of their pending UFAs. I can see them keeping at most half of them. Perhaps Goligoski and Demers if their asking prices aren’t too expensive. Of course, that depends on how active GM Jim Nill might be in the trade market before free agency opens on July 1.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis believes the Edmonton Oilers and right wing Nail Yakupov would be better off without each other. Willis also weighs on on recent speculation by the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa suggesting Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could be a fit with the Minnesota Wild, who need depth at center and are deep in defensemen. He points out the Oilers need a top-four right-handed shot, which leaves only Jared Spurgeon of the Wild as the best fit. However, he doesn’t think Spurgeon is a good enough return for Nugent-Hopkins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s only a question of when, not if, Yakupov is traded this summer. My guess is no later than the NHL draft, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s bundled with the Oilers first-round pick (fourth overall). I also expect Nugent-Hopkins to be shopped for a defenseman. Willis’ comments now makes me question my previous belief that the Wild could be a trade partner for the Oilers to address their blue-line needs.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Ben Raby and Isabelle Khurshudyan report Capitals GM Brian MacLellan will attempt to bolster his checking lines in the offseason. In his first interview since the Capitals were eliminated last week from the playoffs, MacLellan said he’s “pretty content with the core” but he thinks “the ninth, 10th forward are where we’re going to look to improve.” He’d ideally like to add more speed and scoring to the third-line center position. His first priority, however, is re-signing restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov, Tom Wilson and Michael Latta. Khurshudyan also reports Capitals pending UFA winger Jason Chimera hopes to return with the club next season.