NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2016
Latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Antoine Vermette, plus an update on the Colorado Avalanche in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien cited a recent interview by Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury expressing his hope of winning back his job as the club’s starter. During the 2016 playoffs, Fleury was supplanted by rookie Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup. That prompted considerable trade speculation about Fleury, who hopes to spend the remainder of his career with the Penguins.
O’Brien notes a trade is possible, but Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford still seems intent on starting the season with Fleury and Murray as his goalie tandem. He also notes the veteran netminder’s $5.75 million annual salary-cap hit and modified no-trade clause (listing 12 trade preferences) makes it difficult to swing a deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in June, there was talk the Calgary Flames inquired into Fleury’s availability, but Rutherford apparently wanted the Flames’ first-round pick as part of the return. The Flames instead acquired Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues.
It’s been suggested the Dallas Stars could come calling, as they reportedly had some interest in Tampa Bay Lightning starter Ben Bishop during the draft weekend. However, the Stars must move one of their current tandem (Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi) if they’re to take on Bishop or Fleury. As O’Brien suggests, questions about Fleury’s long-term future in Pittsburgh could carry over into the upcoming season.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa notes the Colorado Avalanche’s recent re-signing of defenseman Tyson Barrie leaves the club with less than $1 million in salary-cap space for 2016-17.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs could shed some salary via trade before the start of the season. A more likely option, however, is demoting one or two players currently carrying two-way contracts for the upcoming season (forward Rocco Grimaldi or a defenseman such as Nikita Zadorov or Chris Bigras) if they don’t perform well during training camp and preseason play. Patrick Wiercioch ($800K) could also become a demotion candidate.
Center Antoine Vermette, recently bought out by the Arizona Coyotes, probably won’t have any difficulty landing with another NHL team. Shinzawa notes the 34-year-old Vermette tallied 17 goals and 38 points in 76 games last season, suggesting he could be an affordable pickup as a third- or fourth-line center.