Latest on the Red Wings, Sabres & Coyotes – April 12, 2017
Looking at possible offseason moves for the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Now that the Red Wings’ 25-year playoff streak is over, John Niyo believes it’s time for general manager Ken Holland to get serious about rebuilding the roster. One way could be trying to shed an expensive salary (“Darren Helm? Justin Abdelkader?”) before the expansion draft, even if it means “bribing” the Vegas Golden Knights by packaging one of those players with one of the Wings’ stockpiled draft picks. He advocates the Wings stand pat in the free-agent market rather than diving into a shallow pool of talent.
Perhaps there’s a bigger deal to be had this summer or next season, when they’ll have more rental players (such as Mike Green) to offer up at the trade deadline. “Everyone knows the Wings desperately need a workhorse, top-pair defenseman, and there shouldn’t be many, if any, untouchables on this roster,” said Niyo. Assuming a blockbuster deal isn’t possible, the rebuild will have to come from within.
Ted Kulfan recently looked at which Wings could stay or depart. Those on the bubble include goalie Jimmy Howard, forwards Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendening and Darren Helm, and defensemen Nick Jensen, Mike Green, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul. He doubts UFA forward Drew Miller will be back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what moves Holland makes this summer. During last year’s draft, he was able to shed the final season of Pavel Datsyuk’s supposedly unmoveable contract at last year’s draft. He was also reportedly interested in Anaheim’s Cam Fowler and Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba last summer.
Holland could peddle one or two expensive salaries before the expansion draft or during the NHL draft weekend in June. I do expect he’ll be busy trying to swing a deal in the trade market for a defenseman. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nyquist or Tatar become trade bait. I don’t see him making the plunge this summer for an expensive free agent, but perhaps he’ll look at an affordable depth signing.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Jerry Sullivan believes the honeymoon is over for Sabres GM Tim Murray, who must now prove he can bring in tough, winning players. “He systematically took apart the defense, leaving behind a thin unit that was weak in its own end, couldn’t make the long passes to initiate the offense and allowed the most shots on goal in the NHL (34.3 a game),” writes Sullivan. He singles out forwards Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart, two Murray acquisitions who “don’t seem especially passionate about winning.”
John Vogl notes there’s no easy answers regarding what the Sabres should do with Kane. “The left winger will give everything he’s got during the game, but good luck finding him when the clock isn’t running. He carries himself like he’s Sidney Crosby, yet he has the same number of playoff points as Taro Tsujimoto. He’ll treat children to a gift-filled Christmas, then end up on the police blotter. His megawatt smile will charm one person and appear fraudulent to another,” writes Vogl.
Kane has a season left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.25 million and is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Vogl believes Murray must either re-sign the 25-year-old winger to a long-term extension or or move him for a long-term asset. From Dec. 1 to season’s end, Kane scored 28 goals to rank ninth in the league over the period. However, his poor practice habits are considered part of the disconnect associated with the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s obvious talent is offset by those issues noted by Vogl. Those issues raise questions over his future with the Sabres and also make him difficult to move via trade. Murray could take a “wait-and-see” approach to Kane for next season, but if there’s any takers for the winger’s services, he could seriously consider those offers.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports Coyotes GM John Chayka identified adding a first-line center and a top-pairing defenseman that his club needs to address. Morgan notes those are also the two hardest positions to fill. With long-time captain Shane Doan and facing retirement, the departure via trade of Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek unlikely to be re-signed, the Coyotes must add some veteran talent to bring in some experienced leadership for their younger players.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Sarah McLellan reports the Coyotes could decide to wait until after the expansion draft before potentially re-signing him to a new contract. Vrbata was their leading scorer this season and is eligible for UFA status on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have the depth in promising youth and draft picks (including the Wild’s first-round pick plus three third-round picks in this year’s draft) to dangle as trade bait. They could target clubs forced to trade players they otherwise risk losing for nothing to the expansion draft. I expect they want to re-sign Vrbata to another one-year deal, but that could depend upon which players they acquire via trade and who they could pursue via free agency.