Latest on the Oilers, Avalanche, Lightning, Flames, Red Wings and Blues in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
Should the Lightning move Bishop?
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien cites a bold question recently asked by HockeyBuzz.com’s Erik Erlendsson: Should the Tampa Bay Lightning trade Ben Bishop and promote Andrei Vasilevskiy as their full-time starter? Erlendsson notes GM Steve Yzerman’s comments on how expansion or the salary cap could force his club to reach a decision regarding those two. Both are under contract for next season, after which Bishop is an unrestricted free agent and Vasilevskiy a restricted FA. O’Brien wonders if Yzerman could be proactive and try to move Bishop this summer.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman notes Bishop has been sidelined for three playoffs in a row. Given Vasilevskiy’s youth, affordability and solid performance in the Conference Final, perhaps Bishop could be a target for the Calgary Flames. He includes the Flames among several teams (Toronto, maybe Dallas, Carolina) that need goaltenders. Friedman notes Anaheim and St. Louis have to determine their goaltending situations. He also points out NHL GMs are waiting to find out if there will be an expansion draft, as that could affect signings and trades. That could put Calgary in a good position to add a quality goalie.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind the Lightning don’t have to trade Bishop this summer. They could wait until next season’s trade deadline, or they could retain him for another run at the Stanley Cup next season and then try to trade his rights before an expansion draft or free agency. Still, I must admit trading him now is an option Yzerman could consider, especially if a rival club is willing to make a tempting offer.
Bear in mind that Bishop has a full no-movement clause and must be willing to waive it. If there is an expansion draft and it’s held next June, the Bolts could be forced to protect him in the expansion draft if, as reported, players with full NMCs must be protected by their teams. If so, that puts more pressure on Yzerman to convince Bishop to accept a trade and to find a suitable destination.
Oilers and Avalanche.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the major asset the Oilers are most likely to trade. He considers Connor McDavid untouchable while forwards Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl are players they’re “almost certainly not trading.” While GM Peter Chiarelli has indicated a willingness to trade his first-round draft pick (fourth overall), Staples speculates he could keep it and select winger Matthew Tkachuk. With a glut at left defense, Staples speculates Oscar Klefbom could interest clubs willing to move a right shot defenseman. Ultimately, however, Staples believes the Oilers will end up moving Nugent-Hopkins for that right shooting rearguard.
Citing a recent report by Denver Post reporter Terry Frei claiming Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy would like to add a bigger, tougher defenseman, Staples wonders if the Avs might be interested in Oilers blueliner Griffin Reinhart. While Frei and colleague Mike Chambers believe the Avs will grudgingly accept blueliner Tyson Barrie’s salary request, Staples notes other clubs value Barrie more than the Avs do, which could be a big enough crack to force a trade. He also points out Barrie’s agent is Pat Morris, who wasn’t able to work things out with the Avs last year for client Ryan O’Reilly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve been saying for months that Nugent-Hopkins is the most likely trade candidate, based on the fact they reportedly offered him to the Nashville Predators in an attempt to acquire Seth Jones before the blueliner was shipped to Columbus. RNH was also linked to the Minnesota Wild leading up to this year’s trade deadline. Still, I don’t rule out the possibility of Jordan Eberle being shopped instead of Nugent-Hopkins. Eberle might fetch a better return.
As for Barrie, his contract situation bears watching. The Avs could still decide to part ways with him if they can find a bigger, tougher blueliner via trade or free agency.
Radulov, Datysuk and Tarasenko.
SPORTSNET 960 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Elliotte Friedman considers the Detroit Red Wings as the club most likely to sign former NHL winger Alexander Radulov. He also expects the Wings will try to trade Pavel Datsyuk’s contract if he opts to skate in the KHL next season.
STLTODAY.COM: Ben Frederickson believes the unwillingness of St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko to speak to the media during the club’s locker cleanout day only stokes speculation of a rift between the winger and the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The “Tarasenko rift with Blues front office” speculation will also likely give rise to talk of the club trading him, but that’s not going to happen. Yes, Taransenko had a tough postseason, but he faced considerably more scrutiny from opponents compared to previous postseasons. He’s also still young and adjusting to his growing role with the Blues. He’s not going anywhere.