Latest on Steven Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist, Justin Faulk and more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
Stamkos and Lundqvist.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason recently examined why signing Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos does and doesn’t make sense for the Buffalo Sabres. Stamkos is eligible this summer for unrestricted free agency and the Sabres have been mentioned in rumors as a potential destination. While noting the Sabres have the cap space to sign Stamkos now, his contract could problem a headache as rising young Sabres (Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen) become due for lucrative new contracts. He also points out the Sabres have Ryan O’Reilly starting a long-term deal worth $7.5 million annually and Stamkos could seek far more than that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-reasoned take by Gleason. The Sabres have over $25 million in cap space and I expect GM Tim Murray will make a big move this summer. However, I don’t see Stamkos as a fit because they’re set at center in O’Reilly and Eichel. Stamkos can play left wing and the Sabres do need help there on the first line as Evander Kane didn’t pan out as hoped. However, it’s also known Stamkos prefers playing center. I doubt he’d be comfortable joining a club where he’ll be shuttled to left wing simply because they’re willing to meet his asking price. Yes, O’Reilly can play on the wing, but he’s better as a center.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks dismisses suggestions calling for the New York Rangers to trade goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to the Dallas Stars. “No. Henrik Lundqvist is not being traded to Dallas. So stop.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t often agree with Brooks, but I do in this case. Lundqvist won’t be dealt. End of discussion.
Faulk and Lehtonen.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently noted Carolina Hurricanes assistant GM Ricky Olczyk used to hold the same position with the Edmonton Oilers. Hurricanes GM Ron Francis could use him as a “sounding board” on Oilers forwards Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins if the Canes and Oilers are talking about defenseman Justin Faulk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the question must be asked: “Why would the Hurricanes trade their best defenseman, who’s carrying a bargain cap hit of $4.833 million annually through 2019-20, for an expensive scoring forward?” Yes, the Hurricanes need offense, and yes, they have depth in promising blueliners, but this simply doesn’t make sense for them.
He believes the Dallas Stars should buy out the remaining two years of goalie Kari Lehtonen’s contract, keep the more affordable Antti Niemi and find themselves a more reliable starter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A buyout will leave the Stars with around $1.7 million dead cap space next season, over $2.7 million in 2017-18 and around $1.8 million annually for the final two years. Still, they simply cannot expect a better result next season by sticking with their current tandem. If ownership is willing to absorb that dead cap space if it means bolstering the goaltending, they should seriously consider this move.
Vesey, Nugent-Hopkins, Howard and Gudbranson.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are considered the favorites to land top US college prospect Jimmy Vesey when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency on August 15. He’s a Boston-area native and his father works as a scout for the Leafs, who also drafted his brother. Vesey, however, isn’t tipping his hand as to where he’ll sign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vesey’s status will inject a bit of life into the rumor mill by August once the frenzy of draft week trades, free-agent signings and the arbitration period passes.
The Minnesota Wild will search for a center this summer. Shinzawa notes the Wild have depth on defense while the Edmonton Oilers do not, speculating Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could be a fit with the Wild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins was linked to the Wild earlier this season. He’s arguably the most-likely Oiler to be traded this summer and I expect the Wild will remain among the teams he’s tied to leading up to the draft weekend in late-June.
Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill could pursue Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard this summer if he can find a way to shed either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While shedding Lehtonen or Niemi is a possibility, using the available cap space to add the inconsistent Howard won’t resolve the Stars goaltending woes going forward.
Shinzawa suggests the Florida Panthers inking defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a one-year, $3.5 million contract suggests they’re not sold on the blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Word out of Florida is Gudbranson agreed to a one-year deal with the promise he’ll get a longer-term deal once the Panthers hash out contract details for Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad.