Latest on the Canucks and Stars plus an update on Kris Russell in your NHL rumor mill.
CANUCKS PURSUING A FORWARD?
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford recently reported it’s believed the Vancouver Canucks were quietly looking to “move a player on an unappealing contract along with a valuable asset in an attempt to clear more cap space to chase a forward.” He wondered if the target could be Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane or Colorado Avalanche center Gabriel Landeskog. There’s also speculation a trade of defenseman Luca Sbisa was being discussed over the weekend.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres GM Tim Murray would probably be thrilled if the Canucks took the troubled Kane off his hands. Vancouver is the 24-year-old winger’s hometown, so perhaps he might get his career and life back on track there. Landeskog’s name surfaced in the rumor mill just prior to the start of the NHL free-agency period. He’d certainly be more preferable to the Canucks, but I’m not sure if there’s a trade fit there. As for Sbisa, I doubt the Canucks seek much of a return. His stock tumbled over the last two years.
STARS GOALTENDING SPECULATION
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika believes Stars GM Jim Nill at some point Iin 2016-17 could move either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi and attempt to upgrade in goal. “That opportunity might come later when Lehtonen and Niemi have burned through some of their remaining salary and are more attractive in a possible trade. It could come if either or both have good regular seasons and become more attractive in a possible trade.” He speculates Nill could dangle one of his young defensemen as trade bait for a netminder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s currently no market for Lehtonen or Niemi. If Nill tries to trade one of them he’ll have to pick up half of their salaries or be forced to take back a toxic contract as part of the return. During the NHL Draft weekend, there were rumors of the Stars pursuing Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, but the apparent sticking point was the Bolts unwillingness to take back Lehtonen or Niemi. As Heika suggests, perhaps an opportunity will present itself over the course of 2016-17.
UPDATE ON KRIS RUSSELL
NBC SPORTS: Cam Tucker cites a tweet from Kris Russell’s agent dismissing a rumor the defenseman rejected an offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Allain Roy called the report false, adding it was “simply rumors”. He also said the Vancouver Canucks are not in the running to land his client. There’s also a recent report claiming the Boston Bruins were “kicking the tires.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk earlier this weekend claiming the Montreal Canadiens could be interested in Russell amid trade speculation Alexei Emelin could be on his way out of Montreal now that his no-trade clause has expired. It’s rumored the Russell camp seeks a six-year deal worth $5 million annually. If they’re not careful, this could become a repeat of last summer’s Cody Franson situation. Franson also sought a lucrative long-term deal but wound up settling for much less with the Buffalo Sabres last September.