Latest on the Blues, Oilers and Lightning, plus an update on potential expansion rules in your NHL rumor mill.
Questions about the Blues.
STLTODAY.COM: Among the 10 offseason questons Jeremy Rutherford raised regarding the St. Louis Blues was what they might do with pending UFA forwards David Backes and Troy Brouwer, what they’ll need in return in a possible Kevin Shattenkirk trade, the cost of re-signing RFA left wing Jaden Schwartz, trading or keeping center Vladimir Sobotka,
After Schwartz, re-signing Backes is their priority. If he proves too expensive, they could instead try to re-sign Brouwer, but he could get expensive too. He suggests a return for Shattenkirk might not include an established player, as adding salary could prevent them from re-signing Backes. Regarding a rumored deal shipping Shattenkirk and goalie Brian Elliott to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the fourth-overall pick, Rutherford doesn’t believe the Blues want to move a goalie. He doesn’t think the Blues will go as high as $6 million per season to re-sign Schwartz. If Sobotka decides to return from the KHL, Rutherford thinks they’ll keep him. His salary would be $2.75 million for 2016-17.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Schwartz and Backes or Brouwer certainly means the Blues won’t want to take back much (if any) salary in a Shattenkirk trade.
Would Lucic to the Oilers make sense?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples weighs in on speculation suggesting the Edmonton Oilers could be a free-agent destination for Los Angeles Kings left wing Milan Lucic. He questions the logic of investing a six-year deal at $6 million per season in the 27-year-old power forward. Doing so would mean the Oilers would have two expensive players (Lucic and Taylor Hall) at left wing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Staples that the Oilers could use a rugged power forward like Lucic, but not on an expensive long-term contract. Does GM Peter Chiarelli feel the same way? We’ll find out within the next three weeks.
Latest Lightning speculation.
SPORTSNET 590 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Elliotte Friedman believes there’s a chance the Tampa Bay Lightning can re-sign pending UFA Steven Stamkos if they can get his annual salary in the range of $9 million per season. He also wonders if the Bolts will try re-signing defenseman Victor Hedman (who’s eligible for UFA status next July) this summer and if that could cost around $9 million annually. If he does that, can he afford Stamkos and RFA winger Nikita Kucherov? Friedman believes someone will have to go, perhaps goalie Ben Bishop.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of re-signing Stamkos, Hedman and Kucherov could be a combined $25 million ($9 million each for Stamkos and Hedman, $7 million per for Kucherov). Shedding Bishop’s $6 million cap hit will help, but they’ve also got to re-sign Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin next summer.
Updates expansion draft rules.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports NHL teams are receiving more information on rules for a potential expansion draft next year.
“A minimum of two forwards and one defenceman must be exposed who have played 40 games the previous season, or a total of 70 over the previous two.
There is also a requirement that the 40/70 players are under contract for the first expansion season.
Each team will be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie
Players holding no-movement clauses – including those modified by limited no-trades, such as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury – count against the protection limit, provided that those contracts and clauses extend through the 2017-18 season.
However, players with no-movement clauses on deals that expire June 30, 2017 like Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman or Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek wouldn’t have to be protected for a draft that is likely to be held a week or two beforehand.
Teams will also be permitted to ask players to waive their no-movement clauses for inclusion in the expansion draft.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The update on the no-movement clauses is noteworthy, as it was assumed players in Fleury’s situation couldn’t be protected. It increases the likelihood such players could be traded this summer.