Updates on the Rangers and Bruins plus the latest on Kris Russell and Tyson Barrie in your NHL rumor mill.
RANGERS AND BRUINS
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports New York Rangers management ” a) are extremely reluctant to trade Derek Stepan; b) won’t trade Ryan McDonagh; c) cannot get anything even remotely resembling equal value for Rick Nash; d) have not been shopping Chris Kreider.” He wonders what they’ll do to change the dynamic of a roster that has gone stale. “Are the Rangers overvaluing their players or is the rest of the league undervaluing them?” Brooks speculates re-signing Kreider is the biggest challenge of the four players who filed for salary arbitration, a list that includes J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath. A long-term deal could cost over $5 million annually, while a one-year one could be around $4.25 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers aren’t willing to trade Stepan, McDonagh or Kreider, they’re unlikely to receive a return that could result in positive change. For that matter, they’re unlikely to get a fair return for any of those three. Better off keeping them as part of your core and consider other options. As for Rick Nash, he’s 32 year old with two years left on his contract, a $7.8 million annual cap hit and a modified no-trade clause in which he lists 12 trade destinations (none of which are Canadian clubs). He was hampered by injury in two of the last three seasons and is dogged by the perception he comes up small in the playoffs. That doesn’t sound like an enticing trade target.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney has no plans at this time to go the offer-sheet route to land a quality defenseman. Haggerty recently cited sources claiming the Bruins drafted up an offer sheet for Winnipeg Jets blueliner Jacob Trouba, but it doesn’t appear they’re willing to use it. The plan was for an unmatchable one-year offer that wouldn’t have forced the Bruins to part with four first-round picks as compensation. Haggerty speculates concern over future Bruins RFAs becoming offer-sheet targets and damage to the careers of general managers who make those offers could explain why they’re not using that option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An offer sheet for Trouba is still possible, but it comes at huge risk for Bruins GM Don Sweeney. An unnamed GM last week reportedly said if any team signed one of his players to an offer sheet, he’d target that club’s top restricted free agents for the next decade. That’s pretty much the mindset for most of them. Target one of my guys, and it’ll cost you down the road when you’re squeezed for cap space and have a quality RFA to re-sign. For those of you who believe that’s collusion, you have to prove the NHL teams are actively conspiring to prevent players from receiving offer sheets. Privately warning off a rival with a threat of targeting one of his best players with an offer sheet isn’t collusion.
RUSSELL AND BARRIE
SPORTSNET: Scott Lewis explored possible destinations for unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell. He notes the Boston Bruins recently kicked the tires on Russell. He also notes the New Jersey Devils have plenty of salary-cap space, wonders if the Colorado Avalanche might be interested, suggests a possible homecoming with the Calgary Flames and doesn’t count out the Vancouver Canucks, who had interest but dropped out of the bidding.
TSN 690 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): On Monday, Darren Dreger suggested Russell was getting closer to signing with a new team. He isn’t quite sure who’s involved, noting the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs were linked to the defenseman. He also points out the Boston Bruins still need a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the UFA pool now drained of the top talent and most teams having already spent what they’re willing to invest in free agency, the leverage shifts from the players to the general managers. I think Russell’s best chance of getting a lucrative offer was within the first two days of free agency. The longer he goes unsigned, the more likely he’ll end up signing for much less than he expected to get.
TSN 1260 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Dreger also doesn’t rule out the possibility of something getting done on the Tyson Barrie trade front before the blueliner’s arbitration hearing. He believes the new contract of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (six years, $32.4 million) will definitely impact Barrie. Dreger also notes how the Avalanche tend to get into an annual contract fight with their best players, wondering if Barrie is a long-term fit with the Avalanche.