Latest on St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in your NHL Rumor Mill.

Tarasenko denies rumors of a rift with Blues.

Vladimir Tarasenko claims there's no rift between himself and the Blues organization.

Vladimir Tarasenko claims there’s no rift between himself and the Blues organization.

STLTODAY.COM:  Tom Timmermann reports Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko spoke to the media yesterday, explaining that the reason he didn’t talk to them on lockout clean-out day was he was still upset over his club’s elimination from the Western Conference Final. “I wasn’t ready to talk,” he said. “I was too frustrated, too upset, too (angry) about our loss and I don’t want to give you guys a hard time to talk with me because I was so mad. We can talk now.”

Tarasenko also denied rumors out of Canada speculating about a rift between himself and the Blues organization. “It’s never been even talked about it,” he said. “We have really good relationships. The media talk about problems between me and the Blues, it’s never been a problem. If there was going to be a problem, I would not sign for eight years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t be surprised if someone claims the “rift” between Tarasenko and the Blues began this season, after he signed his eight-year contract with them. I’m willing to take the Blues wingers at his word. He’s their top scorer and a young NHL star who will be taking on a bigger role within the organization, perhaps as soon as next season. The Blues won’t be moving him.

For an entertainingly profane “tear down” on the Tarasenko rift rumor and his refusal to speak with the press during locker clean out day, check out this piece from the Blues blog St. Louis Game Time.


Could the Wings part ways with Howard?

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently cited the Detroit Free Press noted a comment by Red Wings GM Ken Holland admitting that moving former franchise goaltender Jimmy Howard “might be good for the organization.” O’Brien wondered what the market could be for Howard, who’s signed through 2018-19 at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.29 million. He suggests it might be best for the Wings to consider their options if Howard has a strong start next season. He also thinks an expansion draft next summer could alleviate that problem.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Further complicating things is Howard has a modified no-trade clause in which he lists 10 preferred trade destinations each year. There are a few clubs (Calgary, Carolina, Toronto, perhaps Dallas) that could use an upgrade between the pipes, but they could be unwilling to taken on Howard’s full salary-cap hit. He might not be keen to go to rebuilding clubs like the Flames, Hurricanes and Leafs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard’s back with the Wings next season.