A look at possible offseason moves by the Dallas Stars, Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance recommends the Dallas Stars upgrade their goaltending, re-sign two of their four pending unrestricted free agent defensemen (he recommends retaining Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers) and re-sign captain Jamie Benn to a maximum eight-year contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have over $10 million tied up in Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi for two more seasons, a tandem that entered the 2016 playoffs with the worst goaltending stats among the 16 postseason teams and were the worst entering the second round. It won’t be easy to trade either guy. Buying out Lehtonen or Niemi is a better option, but it will leave the Stars with over $1.5 million in dead cap space for the next four years. I concur with Custance that they should re-sign Goligoski and Demers over Kris Russell and Jordie Benn.
Opening the vault for Jamie Benn, who’s an elite player that’s a year away from UFA status, should be a no-brainer. As Custance said, the last thing the Stars need is a Steven Stamkos-like situation that drags through next season and becomes a potential distraction. Right now, I consider Benn a better player than Stamkos. Don’t waste time, Jim Nill, get him under contract for eight years at whatever he wants. He’s the Stars’ franchise player, winner of the Art Trophy last season who finished second in league scoring this season and is a finalist for the Hart Trophy. The lockout-shortened 2012-13 season aside, his production has steadily increased since he made his NHL debut in 2009-10. I know it also means they’ll have to spend a lot for Tyler Seguin in 2019, but honestly, they cannot get cheap and lose Benn to free agency next year.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox believes the Washington Capitals latest early-playoff exit shouldn’t prompt management into making any panic moves and blowing up the roster. He suggests parting way with third-line center and pending UFA Mike Richards, whose lack of speed was exposed in the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fox also thinks they should do the same with Jason Chimera in favor of younger, faster players. He recommends letting defenseman Mike Weber walk via free agency and look into Vancouver Canucks blueliner Dan Hamhuis this summer, though he advises against a bidding war for Hamhuis’ services.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the Capitals overhaul the roster. Overall media consensus suggests they’ll tinker with their checking line depth and their third defense pairing.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently listed Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues, Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets, Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks, Matthew Dumba and Jonas Brodin of the Minnesota Wild and Keith Yandle of the New York Rangers as six defensemen the Boston Bruins should pursue this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the trade candidates, Shattenkirk and Vatanen are the most likely to be available, with the latter being more affordable in terms of return. Dumba or Brodin could be dealt, but the recent hiring of Bruce Boudreau as the Wild’s new head coach could have an effect upon their availability. I’m not convinced the Jets will part with Trouba, who’s coming off an entry-level deal and lacks arbitration rights. Yandle won’t cost any player assets to land, but he will be expensive cap-wise, probably around $7 million annually on at least a five-year deal.