Latest on the Canucks, Stars, Oilers and Kings in your NHL rumor mill.
Possible Canucks trade chips.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford recently listed Jared McCann, Jannik Hansen and Ryan Miller as players the Vancouver Canucks could be willing to trade. Among the players they’re willing to move, Botchford considers McCann their best trade chip. Hansen is the type of player who could be moved at the trade deadline if he’s not dealt this summer. Noting Miller outperformed Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi this season, Botchford wonders if there’s a fit there if the Canucks pick up part of Miller’s $6-million cap hit for next season. He expects the Canucks will open the season with their tandem of Miller and Jacob Markstrom intact.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Potential trades by the Canucks could also depend upon their plans for the UFA market. They could attempt to shed a salary to free up cap space for an expensive free agent such as Boston Bruins winger Loui Eriksson, who’s been linked to the Canucks in the rumor mill.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika doesn’t rule out the possibility of Stars goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi returning next season. He notes the buyout cost of both (over $1.8 million annually for Lehtonen, over $1.4 million for Niemi) over the next four years. He doesn’t rule out the Stars bringing back both next season but continuing their search for a netminder, perhaps by the trade deadline. He doubts a rival club would take on the full cap hit of either goalie.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the Stars will see any significant improvement between the pipes by bringing back Lehtonen and Niemi. Still, Heika makes good points about the buyout costs and the difficulty of trading one of them. I believe GM Jim Nill will consider all his options during the offseason to potentially improve his goaltending.
Updates on the Oilers and Kings.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Despite recent speculation suggesting the Oilers first-round pick (fourth overall) is in play, David Staples believes GM Peter Chiarelli could retain the pick and use it to select left wing Matthew Tkachuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli could be shopping that pick, but I doubt he’s committed to trading it no matter what. If there isn’t a suitable return to be had for that pick, either singly or packaged with another player, he’ll retain it and select the best player available. Even if that means drafting another forward.
LA KINGS INSIDER: Jon Rosen reports the Kings are in need of replenishing their goaltending pipeline. Pending UFA backup Jhonas Enroth confirmed it’s unlikely he’ll return with the Kings next season, searching for more playing time with another NHL team. Peter Budaj, who’s signed through 2016-17 at a cap hit of only $600K, could be a desirable backup option. Rosen suggests we shouldn’t be surprised “to see the team add pieces either in the draft or through free agency or via development camp and training camp invites…”