Latest on the Avalanche, Sabres & Hurricanes – March 6, 2017
The latest speculation involving the Colorado Avalanche, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes in your NHL rumor mill.
THE DENVER POST: Despite the lack of a significant move by the floundering Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline, Terry Frei believes their roster makeover will kick into high gear in the offseason. He anticipates a core player will be dealt to upgrade their defense. The trade speculation that dogged top forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog will persist into this summer, but Frei feels Avs GM Joe Sakic must continue to insist on a big return for either player.
Frei’s colleague Mark Kiszla believes Sakic should be replaced as general manager before Duchene is traded. Indeed, he feels Sakic is the main problem affecting the Avs. Kiszla doesn’t believe the club is as bad as their record this season suggests. He feels they could benefit from a management chance. He lists Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Norm McIver, Florida Panthers executive Dale Tallon and LA Kings executive Rob Blake as possible replacement.
STLTODAY.COM: Jeremy Rutherford believes the St. Louis Blues were among the clubs with interest in Duchene. The asking price is high. Rutherford speculates it could cost the Blues defenseman Colton Parayko as part of the return. The Blues need to upgrade at center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic could find it difficult to move Duchene or Landeskog if rival clubs decide to look around for more affordable options in June. The expansion draft could see several teams putting some notable talent into the trade market. A stagnant salary cap could also affect Sakic’s efforts to swing a blockbuster. I don’t think the Avs will fire Sakic this year, but he’s definitely going to be under pressure to improve the roster before next season.
The Blues certainly could benefit from adding a center such as Duchene, but I think they’ll look elsewhere if the Avs maintain a high asking price. Given Duchene’s $6 million annual cap hit through 2018-19, the Blues would have to either move some salary to Colorado in the deal or stage a salary-dumping deal with another club.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl recently reported Sabres GM Tim Murray unsuccessfully attempted to move pending unrestricted free agents Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Gionta before the recent trade deadline. Murray received an offer for Gionta and asked the winger about it, but he wasn’t interested in waiving his modified no-trade clause.
The Sabres GM also declined offers for left wing Evander Kane, who has a year remaining on his contract. While the two sides can open contract extension talks in July, Murray said Kane must first address his off-ice issues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see Murray taking a wait-and-see approach with Kane for next season. The winger is on pace to reach 30 goals this season. If he avoids trouble away from the ice and plays well next season, Murray could try to re-sign him before his eligibility for unrestricted free agency next July.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander recently reported the Carolina Hurricanes were among the teams linked to Colorado center Matt Duchene in trade rumors leading up to last week’s trade deadline. Teuvo Teravainen, Ryan Murphy and Lee Stempniak also came up on trade chatter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy’s name surfaced several times earlier this season and he could be shopped this summer. Stempniak still has a season left on his contract. Interesting that Teravainen’s name surfaced, as the Canes acquired him last summer. He’s a restricted free agent this summer. His status could be worth keeping an eye on this summer.