Updates on Rick Nash, Alex Ovechkin and more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup. 

Latest Rick Nash speculation.


More "smoke" on the Rick Nash trade rumors.

More “smoke” on the Rick Nash trade rumors.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen cites Elliotte Friedman’s reporting there seems to be “a bit of smoke” regarding speculation claiming the New York Rangers could trade winger Rick Nash. Noting Nash has a 12-team list of preferred trade destinations, Friedman believes the Rangers have been asked about the 31-year-old left wing and could move him “under the right circumstances.” However, Friedman notes Nash has a $7.8 million annual salary-cap hit for two more seasons plus the Rangers believe Nash, who played hurt this season, could be more effective if healthy next season.  John Shannon subsequently followed up suggesting the Rangers could get into the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes this summer if they trade Nash.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The “right circumstances” perhaps being a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues? Well, maybe not…

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doubts the St. Louis Blues will consider Nash as their club’s “missing link.”  Brooks also doesn’t consider it realistic for the Blues to re-sign captain David Backes to a five- or six-year extension, doubting the 31-year-old can bring about the same level of excellence he’s currently displaying in the 2016 playoffs over the course of such a deal.  Brooks also wonders which goalie – Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (one year left on his contract at $6 million) or Pittsburgh Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury (four years, $5.25 million annually) – waives their no-movement clause first. And if Fleury doesn’t, what happens to the Penguins down the road?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash isn’t impossible to move, but there will have to be dollars dealt both ways to make this work, and his no-trade clause limits potential destinations. As for Fleury, it’s simple. If he won’t waive his modified no-trade clause, he’ll be left unprotected in the expansion draft that is widely assumed will take place next summer. While Fleury has a no-movement clause, it’s limited only to waivers and demotion. As per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, that means he could be left unprotected in an expansion draft. 

Five right wing targets for the Bruins. 

CSNNE.COM:  Joe Haggerty lists Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders, Troy Brouwer of the St. Louis Blues, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dale Weise of the Chicago Blackhawks and Jakob Silfverberg of the Anaheim Ducks as possible right wing targets for the Boston Bruins.  Of these, Haggerty claims there’s “no heat” so far from the Bruins on Okposo. He considers Brouwer the favorite, doesn’t rule out the possibility of Weise and dismisses the notion of Stamkos and Silfverberg joining the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo could be expensive for the Bruins, who could seek a more affordable, short-term option like Brouwer. They’re not in the Stamkos sweepstakes. Weise is certainly affordable if they want him. I don’t believe the Ducks wish to move Silfverberg. 

Highlights from Mathesons latest “Hockey World.”


EDMONTON JOURNAL:  Jim Matheson believes the Dallas Stars will re-sign captain Jamie Benn to an eight-year deal worth between $9-$10 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Stars can get Benn signed for less than $10 million annually, that’ll be quite the coup for GM Jim Nill. Don’t be surprised if the Benn camp seeks over $10 million annually. He’s their franchise player, winner of the scoring title in 2015 and runner-up this season, plus he’s a finalist for the Hart Trophy. Those type of players usually get top dollar. Some folks believe Benn’s nothing without center Tyler Seguin, but that’s nonsense. During Seguin’s 10-game absence last season to a knee injury, Benn tallied 11 points. During his 10-game absence late in this season, Benn had nine points. And in the playoffs, with Seguin missing all but one game, Benn netted 15 points. 

If Jason Chimera wants to return with the Washington Capitals, he’ll have to accept a pay cut.

Matheson doesn’t understand why the Colorado Avalanche “can’t afford to buck up” for defenseman Tyson Barrie when their blueline corps is wafer-thin. Noting the bar’s been set for Matt Duchen and Erik Johnson at $6 million annually, he believes the Avs should re-sign Barrie for that on a six-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One reason could be the Avs also have to re-sign center Nathan MacKinnon, though he’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. Still, he’ll be seeking a substantial raise. With Johnson earning $6 million annually, perhaps the Avs are reluctant to have another defender earning that much on the blueline. 

With young Mike Matheson have a strong late-season performance, the Florida Panthers could let Brian Campbell walk via free agency.

Matheson doubts Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference will be fully recovered from hip surgery in order for the Oilers to buy out the final season of his contract in June.

The Edmonton Oilers need an affordable backup for Cam Talbot in the $1 million range. Chad Johnson of the Buffalo Sabres would be the best bet but made $1.3 million last season and played 45 games. Florida’s Al Montoya, Nashville’s Carter Hutton and Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson could also be available but Matheson doesn’t consider them as good as Johnson.

He believes the Dallas Stars will try harder to re-sign UFA blueliner Alex Goligoski, who is John Klingberg’s defense partner.

Ovechkin won’t be traded.

CSN MIDATLANTIC: Responding to a reader’s question wondering if the Washington Capitals will trade Alex Ovechkin at some point, Chuck Gormley dismisses that notion. While there’s 19 teams Ovechkin could be dealt to (he has a 10-team no-trade list), Gormley doesn’t believe the Capitals will trade the NHL’s top sniper, who’s now a better overall player than he was in his 65-goal heyday. He also points out Capitals GM Brian MacLellan is committed to his current roster. If the Capitals fail miserably next season, Gormley speculates maybe then it could be time to “flip the script”, but it’ll take something dramatic for the Caps to move Ovechkin over the next five years before his contract expires in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This should be obvious for most fans, but there are some who believe the Capitals can never win with Ovechkin calling for them to trade their captain now. They won’t, of course, but it’s worthwhile to remind Ovechkin’s critics why that won’t happen anytime soon.