NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2017
Latest speculation on the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.
MONTREAL GAZETTE/LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Pat Hickey believes it’s important for the Montreal Canadiens to determine the intentions of superstar goaltender Carey Price as soon as possible. Price, who turns 30 in August, is a year away from eligibility for unrestricted free agency. The Habs can open contract discussions with him on July 1.
If Price wants to stay, re-signing him will prove expensive. The current highest-paid goalie in the league is Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers ($8.5 million annually). If Price isn’t re-signed before next season, Hickey believes the Habs must shop him, as he could fetch a top-line center plus a starting goalie to fill the gap left by Price’s absence until promising Charlie Lindgren provess ready for prime time.
Meanwhile, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News suggested the Dallas Stars should inquire into Price’s availability, perhaps by offering up Tyler Seguin, Jamie Oleksiak and Kari Lehtonen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of speculation over Price’s trade status in the coming weeks. But unless he asks to be traded or intends to test free agency next year, he’s not going anywhere.
If Price wants to stay put, Bergevin will pony up $9-$10 million annually on a seven- or eight-year deal to keep him, or maybe he convinces the goalie to accept a little less ($8 million annually) to leave some cap room to address other roster needs. If Price won’t commit to a new deal, then Bergevin will have little choice but to look into moving him.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the Toronto Maple Leafs must add a top-four defenseman, re-sign blueliner Nikita Zaitsev and shore up their backup goaltending in the offseason. The Leafs have the salary-cap space to pursue a big-ticket rearguard such as Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk, but Custance suggests a better option is to shop left wing James van Riemsdyk (who’s a year away from UFA eligibility) “in a deal that brings a defenseman back on a contract that doesn’t extend too far into the future.” He also feels the Leafs can invest in a reliable backup without investing too much.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby suggests the futures of Leafs UFA blueliners Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak will depend upon if the club loses a defenseman via the expansion draft and who the club pursues in the offseason market. Re-signing center Brian Boyle seems a priority while backup Curtis McElhinney worked well with starter Frederik Andersen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adding a skilled top-four blueliner should be the Leafs’ priority this summer. They have the cap space and the depth in draft picks and prospects to dangle as trade bait, perhaps by targeting clubs in need of shedding cap space or teams in danger of losing a good blueliner (Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild) to the expansion draft. Moving van Riemsdyk is an option if they’re unable to re-sign him before next season. McElhinney is a UFA and could be an affordable re-signing, but that depends on whether he impressed Leafs management enough.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance suggests the Boston Bruins must make a decision about interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, re-sign winger David Pastrnak to a contract extension and bolster their blueline depth. One option to address the latter could be pursuing Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk via free agency. “The better solution might be to trade for a defenseman with a lower price tag and shorter term to help bridge the transition to the young defensemen in the system,” said Custance, who also suggests the Bruins look into the market for aging captain Zdeno Chara.
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy suggests this season could be the last with the Bruins for restricted free agent forward Ryan Spooner, who was a healthy scratch from the final two games of their series against the Ottawa Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering the Bruins’ improvement under Cassidy when he took over in February from Claude Julien, I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns as their full-time head coach. Pastrnak will be re-signed, but with him coming off an entry-level deal, they could push for an affordable two-year bridge deal with the promise of a bigger deal after that.
I doubt they’ll find many takers for Chara, whose career is winding down. They could chase Shattenkirk but I agree with Custance that a better option is to look into the trade market.