With the NHL free-agent frenzy now past, find out what’s next for the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets in your NHL rumor mill.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple recently reported it appears New York Islanders GM Garth Snow is done free-agent shopping this summer. The club has around $5 million in salary-cap room and Ryan Strome, Alan Quine and Scott Mayfield to re-sign. Oft-injured center Mikhail Grabovski faces the most uncertainty among Isles veterans. Nikolay Kulemin and Josh Bailey could lose some power-play and penalty-killing time because of the additions of Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera and P-A Parenteau.
Forget about defenseman Travis Hamonic becoming a trade candidate. The Isles re-signing J-F Berube to a one-year deal doesn’t necessarily mean the Isles will move out Jaroslav Halak, but they will have to address the logjam in goal at some point.
ESPN.COM: Joe MacDonald also recently reported on what the Islanders might do next. Like Staple, he doesn’t see Hamonic going anywhere, calling the defenseman’s decision to rescind his trade request a good way to begin the offseason. He thinks at some point the Isles could trade Halak to clear salary-cap space, even if it means only getting a draft pick in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring an unforeseen blockbuster deal, I don’t expect any further significant trade or free-agent activity from the Islanders this summer. They certainly have to address their crowded crease, but that could be sorted out in training camp. Because of Halak’s injury history, trading him won’t be easy.
Hamonic’s name popped up a couple of times after he rescinded his trade request, insisting the blueliner dropped his trade request to make it “easier” for Snow to move him by removing the pressure of trading him quickly. Obviously that was wishful thinking coming from folks still hoping there was a chance their club could acquire Hamonic.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline recently opened his mailbag and answered questions from his readers regarding the Blue Jackets, He claims they’re still trying to land a first-line center but the search is getting more difficult. He’s not sure why left wing Scott Hartnell keeps popping up in trade rumors, citing his age (34), style of play, lack of speed and getting something for him while he’s still productive as the posssible reasons. Portzline is sure goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s name popped up in trade conversations at the recent NHL draft, but cites a source claiming at no point was Bobrovsky approached about waiving his no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take a significant return of either a top player or a considerable package of promising talent to land a first-line center. That could be an issue that carries over into 2016-17 for the Jackets. Probably the biggest reason Hartnell’s name came up so often in trade talks was his annual salary-cap hit ($4.75 million) was a problem for the cap-strapped Jackets. Having recently bought out Fedor Tyutin and Jared Boll, there’s no longer a pressing need to shed Hartnell’s cap hit.