Updates on Steven Stamkos, Rick Nash, Mike Hoffman, Alex Radulov, Cam Ward and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Latest on Stamkos, Nash, Radulov & the Stars.
WGR 550 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Citing the disappointing finish to the New York Rangers season, Friedman believes there’s a possibility they could try and move left wing Rick Nash this summer. He does note Nash’s no-trade clause allows him to control his fate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: By moving Nash, the Rangers can free up much-needed room to re-sign their key free agents and perhaps add a top-four puckmoving defenseman who can skate on the right side. Despite the decline in Nash’s numbers this season, he’s still a big-name player who’ll attract interest in the trade market, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause. One New York pundit (Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News) recently suggested shipping Nash to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Don’t be surprised if Nash’s name starts popping up more frequently in the rumor mill in the coming weeks.
SPORTSNET 960 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Elliotte Friedman wonders if the New York Islanders might take a run at Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos via free agency in July. He suggests the possibility of using Stamkos as a winger on center John Tavares’ line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles have the cap space to pursue Stamkos, who grew up playing with Tavares. Such a move, however, could cost them over $10 million annually, eating up over half of their available cap dollars. It could also hamper efforts to re-sign Tavares before his UFA eligibility in two years time. Stamkos would have to skate at left wing, which he doesn’t seem to enjoy doing with the Lightning. The Isles need to find a suitable winger for Tavares, but I just don’t see Stamkos being the right fit.
Friedman also claims the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings have interest in winger Alexander Radulov, who’s indicated his intent to return to the NHL after spending four seasons in the KHL. He also claims the Washington Capitals have denied interest in Radulov. Despite a persistent rumor linking the winger to the Colorado Avalanche, but a source said they’re not pursuing him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals link to Radulov was probably based on being a good fit with countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. That’s the same as suggesting a Canadian player would be a good fit on a team with other Canadians on the roster. Nationality doesn’t mean players are going to work well together. Besides, the Caps have limited cap space and other issues to address.
As for the Avs, this speculation is tied to the fact he played for Avs coach Patrick Roy in the QMJHL over a decade ago. It doesn’t have anything to do with their real roster issues. They have to re-sign center Nathan MacKinnon and either re-sign or replace defenseman Tyson Barrie. I don’t see how adding Radulov helps them.
He also believes the Dallas Stars’ salary-cap space could leave them well-positioned to do some creative things to improve their roster. He also believes they’ll make a big push at re-signing captain Jamie Benn this summer to avoid questions about his future dogging the club next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll need to get creative to address their goaltending, as they currently have over $10 million annually tied up in Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi for two more seasons. As for Benn, I won’t be shocked if he’s re-signed in July to an eight-year deal worth $10 million annually.
Updates on the Senators.
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren lists Jiri Hudler or Teddy Purcell of the Florida Panthers, Mikkel Boedker of the Colorado Avalanche, Matt Martin of the New York Islanders, David Perron or Jamie McGinn of the Anaheim Ducks, Darren Helm of the Detroit Red Wings and Patrick Eaves of the Dallas Stars as possible options for the Senators to bolster their depth at forward. He also suggests Dallas’ Jordie Benn or Andre Benoit of the St. Louis Blues as possible targets for their blueline.
Don Brennan recently reported Senators winger Mike Hoffman is pleased with the club’s hiring of Guy Boucher as head coach, citing how Boucher improved his play during their days in Junior hockey. Brennan also reports Hoffman and Senators management hope to get a “satisfactory, long-term deal” in place this summer. Hoffman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boedker could be a good fit with the Senators, but he could cost $5.5 million annually on a long-term deal. Perron and McGinn would be more affordable options on shorter terms. As for Hoffman, it seems like his status with the club is changing. Nearly two months ago he seemed like a goner. Since Pierre Dorion took over as GM, however, there’s speculation the winger could get a new deal.
Ward faces uncertain future.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently reported Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward could face an uncertain future. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. While Ward made it clear to Hurricanes management he’d love to stay “but the feeling has got to be mutual.” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis hasn’t ruled out re-signing Ward, but he also said the club could go in a different direction in goal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Francis wants to head in a different direction. Wouldn’t surprise me if he pursues James Reimer via free agency or Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen via trade this summer. Ward should land with another NHL club this summer, but he’ll take to take a big pay cut from the $6.3 million annual cap hit of his current deal. He could find it difficult to get a deal longer than two years.