Latest on Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Drouin, Loui Eriksson and many more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Should the Capitals trade Ovechkin?
ESPN.COM: Rob Vollman makes the case for the Washington Capitals to trade left wing Alex Ovechkin as a means of shaking things up, citing Ovechkin’s age (he’ll turn 31 this fall), his expensive contract (nearly $10 million annually) and the inevitable decline of his skills. He suggests the Winnipeg Jets as a trade partner, citing their available cap space, that they’re holding the second-overall pick in this year’s draft, that Ovechkin could skate alongside Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler and the Jets need for offense. He notes Ovechkin has a limited no-trade clause in which he lists 10 acceptable trade destinations, noting the Jets might not be on that list. Still, they’re just one example of several clubs that could be interested in acquiring him. While Vollman expects the Capitals won’t trade their captain, if a club like the Jets comes calling he thinks they should at least listen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor, just a hypothetical scenario by Vollman that I found interesting. Ovechkin’s not going anywhere, regardless of which teams calls to inquire about him. Yes, yes, I know, if Wayne Gretzky can be traded anyone can be traded. But it’s quite obvious from recent comments by Capitals GM Brian MacLellan he intends to build a Cup contender around Ovechkin. Still, feel free to debate this if you wish in the comments section.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the future of former Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon, who’s now their president of hockey operations, remains a hot topic. The Vancouver Canucks denied a rumor he could be joining them.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Jonathan Drouin could be well on their way toward peace. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh shared an embrace following the Bolts second-round elimination of the New York Islanders. Drouin entered the Conference Finals with six first assists, one fewer than San Jose’s Logan Couture.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Embraces aside, Drouin’s improved performance in the heat of playoff competition has dimmed the trade chatter that’s swirled about him for half the season If anything, it’s raising questions about Steven Stamkos’ future with the Bolts. After all, the Lightning made it this far without him and with Drouin skating at left wing. The kid’s much more affordable than Stamkos. Food for thought.
Friedman wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets, who hold the third overall pick in the 2016 draft, might trade down to get a center. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers have fielded a few inquiries about their pick (fourth overall) but there’s nothing “scorching”.
Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray and Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving will be patient in their search for new head coaches. The Ducks are expected to meet with Travis Green, Luke Richardson and Mike Yeo and last week interviewed Paul MacLean.
Friedman still believes the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers are waiting on KHL winger Alexander Radulov. There’s also wildly conflicting rumors the Colorado Avalanche could have some interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After creating a stir for a couple of days recently, talk of Radulov’s return to the NHL has quieted down. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but I suspect we won’t hear nearly as much hype about him as the draft weekend and the opening day of free agency approaches.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is on record saying he’d like to bring back 39-year-old center Matt Cullen next season.
With the St. Louis Blues advancing to the Western Conference Final, it’ll be interesting to see how that affects forwards David Backes and Troy Brouwer plus head coach Ken Hitchcock, as all are on expiring contracts.
A source claims Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is awaiting confirmation of next season’s salary-cap numbers before continuing contract talks with restricted free agent Andrew Shaw.
There were some recent conversations between Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney and agent J.P. Barry, who represents pending UFA winger Loui Eriksson. There are plans for future discussions.
Contract talks to watch.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes there’s several contract negotiations worth watching leading up to the start of the free-agent period on July 1. Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Shane Doan of the Arizona Coyotes, Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins, Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks, Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils and Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators have the potential to get done before then.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of these, I expect Jones, Krug, Palmieri and Forsberg to be re-signed before July 1. They’re too important to their teams. If the ‘Hawks can free up sufficient cap space, Shaw gets re-upped too. Doan isn’t a valuable as he once was to the Coyotes, but I can see them bringing him back for one final season.
Sens to part ways with Wiercioch?
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the indication in some NHL circles suggests the Senators won’t tender a qualifying offer to restricted free agent defenseman Patrick Wiercioch. That would make the 25-year-old blueliner an unrestricted free agent. Before doing so, it’s expected the Senators will try to trade him first. If he’s let go, it’s believed the Sens will pursue a sixth defenseman via trade or free agency this summer. The Sens also must decide what to do with winger Alex Chiasson, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Consistency’s been an issue for Wiercioch. However, he played well for Team Canada in last year’s World Championships. When he’s on his game he can be a good second-pairing d-man. If he hits the UFA market, I can see a club pursuing him as an affordable one-year depth signing.