NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2016
Ducks could be working on a trade, more Lightning trade speculation and updates on Joe Thornton and Tobias Rieder.
TSN’s Blake Price yesterday reported the following via Twitter: “Pierre Mcguire tells us the Ducks are in trade talks with an Eastern Conference team to unload a significant contract, and get room for RFAs.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Cam Fowler’s contract ($4 million annually through 2017-18) is the one they intend to move. They have considerable depth on defense, which could make Fowler expendable.
As for the potential Eastern Conference team, it’ll have to be one with the cap space to take on Fowler’s cap hit along with affordable assets (draft picks, prospects) to send to the Ducks, who can’t afford to take back a significant salary. It must also be a team in need of a defenseman such as Fowler.
The New Jersey Devils ($11.4 million in cap space), Buffalo Sabres ($7.4 million), Ottawa Senators ($5.9 million) and Boston Bruins ($5.8 million) seem the likely candidates. The Toronto Maple Leafs could be another. While they have only $2.9 million in cap space, they will get cap relief by placing Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) on LTIR.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Martin Fennelly believes something’s got to give for the Tampa Bay Lightning if they’re to re-sign restricted free agent winger Nikita Kucherov. He expects it’ll cost the Lightning $6 million per season to re-sign the sniper. To clear salary-cap room for Kucherov’s new salary, they’ll have to move someone.
Fennelly lists goaltender Ben Bishop ($5.9 million), center Tyler Johnson ($3.3 million), center Valtteri Filppula ($5 million) and defenseman Jason Garrison ($4.5 million) as potential trade candidates. He notes Bishop was almost shipped to Calgary in the offseason, wonders if Johnson is a No.2 center, doubts a rival club will be interested in Filppula’s salary and questions if the Bolts can spare a defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop, Filppula and Garrison were often mentioned as possible trade candidates to free up cap space for Kucherov’s new contract, but this is the first time Johnson’s been included in that category by a Tampa Bay pundit. Given his clutch scoring and proven playoff experience, I doubt the Bolts will move him. Indeed, I see Johnson as part of their long-term plans. Fennelly makes good points about Filppula and Garrison. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman’s suggested he could retain Bishop for this season.
With Ryan Callahan ($5.75 million) sidelined until late-November, Yzerman can place him on long-term injury reserve, which will provide him sufficient wiggle room in the short term for Kucherov’s new contract. However, he’ll have to free up cap room when Callahan comes off LTIR. If a trade happens, it might not come until sometime in November.
TSN: In a recent edition of “Insider Trading”, Pierre LeBrun suggests if center Joe Thornton re-signs with the San Jose Sharks, it could be another three-year deal. While the 37-year-old’s age and cap implications are issues, Thornton’s solid play could make another three-year deal with the Sharks a possibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite his age, Thornton continues playing very well. Last season, he led the Sharks in scoring and finished fourth among the league leaders with 82 points. He and Sharks GM Doug Wilson seem to have buried the hatchet on their very public feud in the 2014-15 season. If Thornton enjoys another strong outing, I can see the Sharks inking him to another three-year contract.
Bob McKenzie reports restricted free agent winger Tobias Rieder hasn’t demanded a trade from the Arizona Coyotes, but his agent has suggested it would be in everyone’s best interests to move him if the Coyotes are unwilling to meet his contract demands. Rieder seeks a two-year deal worth $2.5 million annually, while the Coyotes are offering $2.1-$2.2 million per season or accept a one-year qualifying offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides aren’t that far apart. Perhaps they can come up to $2.3 million per season.