Latest on the Stars, Jets and Avalanche – April 10, 2017
Possible coaching candidates for the Stars, latest on Jacob Trouba and Toby Enstrom and an update on the Avalanche in your NHL rumor mill.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: With the Dallas Stars’ announcing yesterday Lindy Ruff will not return as their head coach, Mike Heika list former Stars bench boss Ken Hitchcock, former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant and Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller as three options to consider.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heika is offering up suggestions and isn’t saying the Stars are pursuing those three. General manager Jim Nill undoubtedly has his own ideas over who will replace Ruff. It could be one of the guys on Heika’s list or somebody else.
Heika also recently examined which players the Stars will part ways with this summer and those they could pursue via trade or free agency. He speculated pending free agent Patrick Sharp might want to finish his career with the Stars and thinks the Stars could be interested in bringing back winger Ales Hemsky. He doesn’t expect Jiri Hudler will be back.
Free agent targets could include LA Kings goaltender Ben Bishop, Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner and Caps winger T.J. Oshie. Heika also recommended trying to pry promising goalie Joonas Korpisalo away from the Columbus Blue Jackets before the June expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharp is 35 and underwent hip surgery. If he wants to return, the Stars have to determine if he’s a good fit under their new head coach. Same goes for Hemsky.
Bishop will be an expensive free-agent target. A more affordable option could be Chicago’s Scott Darling. Other goalie trade options could include Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Washington’s Philipp Grubauer and the New York Ranger’s Antti Raanta.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman reports defenseman Jacob Trouba has no problem with playing in Winnipeg. Finishing the first season of a two-year deal, his contract standoff last fall raises questions over the long-term future with the Jets. “The contract is a two-way street and both sides have to come to together and agree on something. It’s not completely me, it’s not completely them. It’s a mutual thing,” said Trouba. He adds he’ll speak with his agent and with management, but also said he’ll play out next year and see how things go. He’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike Sawatzky reports Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom has one season remaining on his contract. The 32-year-old could give the Jets more flexibility in the June expansion draft by agreeing to waive his no-movement clause, but he insists he’s happy with the Jets and hasn’t been asked by management to waive his clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba was the subject of trade speculation throughout last summer and into the opening month of the season before agreeing to his two-year deal. I expect the trade chatter could resurface following the playoffs. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could approach the Trouba camp about a long-term deal in July, but I have a feeling they’ll be content to wait until next summer in hopes his value will rise. As for Enstrom, I doubt he’ll waive his NMC simply to be exposed in the expansion draft.
THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei recently reported Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic still considers Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost as untouchables. “They’re part of the rebuild because of their ages and the direction we want to go,” he said. “It’s like anything, I don’t know the calls you’re going to get, but those are building blocks.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation suggested MacKinnon was no longer an untouchable. Sakic has publicly dismissed that idea. Of course, if a rival were to pitch an incredible offer to the Avs GM, maybe he’ll change his mind, but I’ll take Sakic at his word. MacKinnon is the closest to a franchise player the Avs have. Unless the offer is someone such as Toronto’s Auston Matthews or Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine as part of the return – and we all know those two aren’t going anywhere – I don’t see the Avs trading MacKinnon.