Another list of buyout candidates, plus updates on Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop, Tyson Barrie and more in your NHL rumor mill.
More buyout candidates.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance recently listed New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, Dallas Stars goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, Minnesota Wild left wing Thomas Vanek, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin, Florida Panthers center Dave Bolland and Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Brown as possible contract buyout candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On May 25, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported the Rangers don’t intend to buy out Girardi. On June 1, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Stars GM Jim Nill doesn’t intend to buy out Lehtonen. It’s unlikely he’ll buy out Niemi, the guy he signed only a year ago. On June 14, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox cited a source claiming Bolland failed his physical and is thus ineligible for a buyout, though there’s no confirmations yet from the Panthers. I thought Vanek was a goner, but the Wild’s hiring Bruce Boudreau as their new head coach could change that. The Blue Jacket will try to trade Tyutin, but failing that, a buyout by the end of June is possible. The Kings could buy out Brown but it will be expensive and run through 2027-28.
Updates on Fleury and Bishop.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis believes the Flames should pursue Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury via trade this summer. He claims Flames GM Brad Treliving’s been in touch with Penguins GM Jim Rutherford regarding Fleury. Francisbelieves the cap-strapped Penguins have no choice but to move the 31-year-old netminder, who lost his starter’s job in the playoffs to Matt Murray. He feels Fleury will be more affordable than Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, who could command over $7 million annually as a UFA next summer, while Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen will be pricey to acquire and re-sign. He doubts the St. Louis Blues will move Brian Elliott while the jury’s still out on San Jose’s James Reimer as a starter. Fleury is signed through 2018-19 at $5.75 million annually. While he has a partial no-trade clause, Francis thinks the Flames could be a good fit.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports Penguins GM Jim Rutherford’s preference “in a perfect world” is to retain Fleury and Matt Murray for next season, but he acknowledges it’ll be tough doing so. Bombulie cites Fleury still being in the prime of his career and likely unwilling to share the starter’s job plus the threat of an expansion draft on the horizon could complicate matters.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Tom Jones believes the time is now for the Lightning to trade goaltender and 2016 Vezina Trophy nominee Ben Bishop. He cites Bishop’s frequent injuries, salary ($6 million next season, perhaps more after that as a UFA), the presence of promising Andrei Vasilevskiy and the possibility of losing him to a possible expansion draft next summer as reasons to move him now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Penguins cap situation and Murray’s playoff performance, I now think it’s quite likely Fleury gets moves this summer. The Flames could be a destination, but we don’t know if they’re even considering making a pitch for him. Bishop could get moved this summer, but if the Bolts don’t re-sign Steven Stamkos, they could keep Bishop for one more season and another shot at a Stanley Cup.
Avalanche not trading Barrie.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox cites Denver Post hockey columnist Mike Chambers claiming Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic saying he’s not trade restricted free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie. Sakic said they prefer re-signing him to a long-term deal, but they could go to arbitration. “Either way, he’ll be here” – Sakic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time a general manager claims he’s not trading a restricted free agent only to turn around and do just that (Hello there, Bruins GM Don Sweeney with defenseman Dougie Hamilton). Still, I’m willing to take Sakic at his word. Perhaps he asked around to see what market Barrie had and the type of return he could get. which would explain why his name surfaced in the rumor mill in recent weeks. If so, Sakic couldn’t have liked the offers.
Update on the Red Wings.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Red Wings GM Ken Holland acknowledged trading goalie Jimmy Howard might be good for the goalie and the organization. Howard, who’s earning nearly $5.3 million annually through 2018-19, lost the starter’s job to Petr Mrazek. Holland also said keeping his tandem intact could be a nice luxury. Kulfan points out moving Howard this summer won’t be easy, citing a lack of teams in the market for a netminder, Howard’s contract, the possible flood of goalies with contract issues (Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen) on the market this summer plus the return teams will want for those goaltenders.
TSN 690 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Darren Dreger reports Wings GM Ken Holland is working overtime to renovate his roster. The Wings are among the clubs with interest in KHL forward Alexander Radulov, though his salary demands ($7 million annually on a two-year deal) are hurting his value as a free agent. The Wings prefer a one-year deal worth between $4.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Howard returns with the Wings next season, after which they’ll leave him exposed in the expansion draft in hopes Las Vegas takes him off their hands. Howard’s only a modified no-trade clause through 2017-18. As for Radulov, if he’s unwilling to reduce his asking price, he won’t be joining the Wings or any other NHL club.