NHL Goalie Rumors – March 28, 2017
Latest on Tuukka Rask, Ryan Miller, Peter Budaj, Antti Niemi and Philipp Grubauer in your NHL rumor mill.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently noted that “Boston’s franchise goaltender and $7 million man Tuukka Rask couldn’t physically answer the bell for one of the biggest games of the year,” sitting out last Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders with a lower-body injury. Noting Rask’s recent struggles leading up to that game, Haggerty suggested ” there’s a real issue developing with Rask and how much trust the Bruins can have in him when the games matter most.” He pointed out the goaltender won’t have full no-trade protection when this season ends and suggested it might be time for the Bruins to consider other options between the pipes this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather that try to dump Rask for a better option, perhaps the Bruins would be better off finding a more reliable backup. Rask’s had to carry a heavy workload over the last three seasons behind a defense corps that’s thinner in talent than it used to be. Besides, I don’t think there’s better options out there this summer for the Bruins, and shedding Rask’s $7 million annual cap hit (which runs through 2020-21 and comes with a modified no-trade clause starting this July) could be a tough sell if the salary cap fails to significantly rise this summer.
VANCOUVER SUN: Jason Botchford recently noted the solid play of Canucks goalie Ryan Miller in the second half of this season and Jacob Markstrom’s struggles over the same period. He suggested it’s created a situation where the Canucks need to bring Miller back on a one-year contract. Botchford believes there won’t be many options via free agency for Miller, who turns 37 later this year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could consider other options via trade or the free-agent market. Scott Darling could be a better UFA option, while Antti Raanta of the NY Rangers and Philipp Grubauer of the Washington Capitals could be trade candidates in June. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Canucks re-sign Miller to a one-year, $4 million contract.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith recently suggested goaltender Peter Budaj’s future with the Lightning could last beyond this season. Smith feels Budaj is a good fit as Andrei Vasilevskiy’s backup and the remainder of this season could be an audition for the veteran netminder to earn a new contract with the Bolts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’ll depend upon Budaj’s asking price for his next contract. His solid play this season will earn him a significant raise over his current one-year $600K deal. The Bolts have limited cap space for next season and must re-sign Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat plus they must acquire a top-four defenseman. Still, if Budaj seeks a reasonable contract, the Bolts could keep him.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: During a recent live chat, Mike Heika speculated that the reason the Stars are playing Kari Lehtonen more frequently is they’ve lost faith in Antti NIemi. He felt they might want to see if Lehtonen is worth keeping beyond this season. A lot will depend upon whether they acquire a goalie before the buyout window closes on June 30. He’s guessing they’ll buy out Niemi for sure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars could protect Lehtonen in the expansion draft and hope the Vegas Golden Knights select Niemi in the expansion draft. Should the Stars buy out Niemi, the annual cap hit will be $1.5 million for the next two seasons. I doubt he’ll attract much interest in the trade market.
WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan reports Capitals backup goalie Philipp Grubauer has heard the speculation he could be selected in this summer’s expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights. For now, he’s keeping his focus on this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer was selected by the Capitals in 2010, when Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was Washington’s GM. As the Caps will obviously protect Braden Holtby, I expect Grubauer to be snapped up by the Golden Knights in June.