Latest on Steven Stamkos, David Backes, Nikita Kucherov, Jacob Trouba, Milan Lucic and more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
Trouba, Hanzal, the Ducks & the salary cap.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes want to add to their defense this summer. Restricted free agent blueliner Tyson Barrie’s future with the Avs isn’t that certain, but Friedman believes they won’t move him unless they can “add some help”. He believes one of their targets could be Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets. “I’m not saying Winnipeg’s going to do it, but I think that’s a player Colorado would like to get its hands on,” said Friedman.
He also claims some teams have asked about Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agency. He said the Coyotes hope to sign Hanzal to an extension but could also request a list of trade destinations from the center if a deal can’t be reached.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba reportedly sought a six-year deal worth over $6 million per season from the Jets. Barrie is also rumored seeking a long-term extension in the neighborhood of $6 million per. Don’t see how that makes things better for the Avs.
The Anaheim Ducks have shown interest in London Knights head coach Dale Hunter.
There’s a chance the salary cap could drop below $70 million if the NHLPA votes against its annual five percent salary escalator. “Not yet decided, but that’s potentially what they’ve been told.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the PA membership is expected to approve the five-percent escalator for 2016-17, but the cap will only marginally increase from $71.4 million to $72.8 million. That’s well below the original projection of $74 million made by commissioner Gary Bettman back in December.
Latest on Kucherov and Backes.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa believes Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov is in line for a big raise, perhaps one comparable to the five-year, $37.5 million extension signed several years ago by teammate Steven Stamkos.
Shinzawa doubts pending UFA forward David Backes, 32, will get a long-term extension from the St. Louis Blues. RFA left wing Jaden Schwartz has more to give and is their priority to re-sign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Shinzawa. Kucherov’s getting a hefty raise this summer, not a bridge deal. I expect something that’s at least five years in length and between $6-$7 million per season. As for Backes, the Blues want to keep him, but I believe they’re considering a three-year deal worth between $5-$6 million annually. They need the cap space to re-sign Schwartz to his lengthy new deal that could be around $6 million per.
Lucic to the Canucks or Oilers?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Bruce McCurdey and Jonathan Willis weigh in on TSN’s Pierre LeBrun’s recent report suggesting Los Angeles Kings left wing Milan Lucic could be open to signing with the Vancouver Canucks or Edmonton Oilers if he hits the open market on July 1. McCurdey notes the Oilers have the cap space for a big UFA contract if they wish, but spending it on a left wing would be a strange place to invest it. Willis believes both clubs would be better off if Lucic re-signs with the Kings, who already have a number of players under expensive contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report of Lucic entertaining the notion of signing with Vancouver or Edmonton could be his camp’s way of trying to pressure Kings management. Of the Canucks and Oilers, I see Lucic as a better fit with the former. The Oilers already have Taylor Hall and Patrick Maroon at the left side. They could also select Matthew Tkachuk if they keep the fourth overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Lucic wouldn’t be a fit there.
Latest Red Wings speculation.
THE DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James recently responded to her readers questions regarding rumors suggesting the Red Wings might pursue both Steven Stamkos and Alexander Radulov. “Even if the Wings are able to move Pavel Datsyuk’s contract (if he, as expected, leaves this summer), there would not be room to sign both Steven Stamkos (various reports have him rejecting an $8.5 million cap average contract) and Alexander Radulov (who probably would want at least in the $5 million range)”. She points out the Wings “have to re-sign RFAs in Petr Mrazek, Danny DeKeyser and Riley Sheahan, all of whom are due significant raises.” Regarding a possible trade with St. Louis for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, St. James claims the last asking price was Dylan Larkin, which is an automatic no-go.”
She does believe the Wings have a good opportunity to sign Stamkos once they shed Datsyuk’s cap hit. “The Wings should appeal to Stamkos because he’d be close to his family in the greater Toronto area, and unlike the work in progress that is the Maple Leafs, with the Wings he’d be joining a competitive Original Six team.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with St. James regarding the Wings’ chances of landing Stamkos. They certainly can’t afford he and Radulov. Given a subsequent report claiming Radulov seeks a two-year deal at $7.5 million per, the Wings could be out of the bidding unless he accepts their rumored one-year deal between $4-$5 million. If the Wings wish to pursue a puck-moving defenseman, there’s potentially other options (Winnipeg’s Jason Trouba, Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin) beside Shattenkirk.