Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 23, 2017
Latest on the Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks & more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
MONTREAL GAZETTE/LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL/TSN.CA: In the wake of the Montreal Canadiens elimination by the New York Rangers from the opening round of the 2017 playoffs, Pat Hickey, Stu Cowan, Pierre Duroucher and Frank Seravalli wonder what the future holds for goaltender Carey Price, forwards Alexander Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu. Price is a year away from eligibility for unrestricted free agency. Radulov is a UFA this summer while Galchenyuk and Beaulieu are restricted free agents.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the Canadiens should extend Price’s contract, re-sign Radulov and consider trading Galchenyuk, perhaps to the Colorado Avalanche as part of a deal for center Matt Duchene.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens’ anemic offense was on full display in this series against the Rangers. While their blueline is also a concern, their lack of scoring punch and quality depth at center was their downfall against the Blueshirts. Expect general manger March Bergevin to go shopping this summer to address this issue via trade or free agency, but it remains to be seen if he’ll chase someone like Duchene. He could target clubs with limited salary-cap space or those at risk of losing a quality forward to the expansion draft.
For all the talk about John Tavares’ future with the New York Islander, Price’s contract status could also garner attention this summer. Bergevin will likely try to lock Price up on a long-term extension, but the netminder could need assurances the Habs are building toward Cup contention.
Bergevin could offer Radulov a four- or five-year deal. The dollars could be the issue. The Habs will likely try to keep it close to $6 million annually, but the Radulov camp could push for $7 million.
Galchenyuk and Beaulieu have probably played their final games with the Habs. It’s simply not working out for those two in Montreal and they’ll likely benefit from moving on to a club where they’ll face less pressure.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the Minnesota Wild must trade a defenseman, as they risk losing a blueliner such as Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin or Marco Scandella to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. Custance feels they have trade value and suggests moving one of them for a young center. He also advocates a contract extension for restricted free agent forward Mikael Granlund and explore ways to move veteran winger Jason Pominville’s contract, perhaps by contract buyout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect there will be a a roster shakeup this summer for the Wild. Three years of inconsistency capped by disappointing playoff performances cannot continue. I daresay head coach Bruce Boudreau will want some input in whatever decisions GM Chuck Fletcher makes. They’ll likely try to move one of those young blueliners mentioned by Custance before the expansion draft. Re-signing Granlund should be a no-brainer.
Pominville has a no-movement clause but also a 10-team no-trade list. However, finding a taker for the final three years of his contract (at $5.6 million annually) for a fading 34-year-old winger will be a tough sell. A buyout is possible, but as Custance observes, they already have the Thomas Vanek buyout on their books for next season at a cap hit of $2.5 million.
CSN BAY AREA/THE MERCURY NEWS: Ray Ratto wonders if the San Jose Sharks first-round elimination by the Edmonton Oilers spells the end of an era for the club. He suggests this could mean the departures via free agency of aging Sharks stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Paul Gackle, however, reports Sharks alternate captain Logan Couture hopes both will return. “I love those guys,” said Couture. “They play hard. If you guys only knew what they play through. The respect level that I have for those two guys is just through the roof.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Thornton and Marleau are willing to accept affordable (perhaps bonus-laden) one-year deals, I can see Sharks GM Doug Wilson re-signing them. The duo loves living and playing in San Jose and could be unwilling to test the UFA market.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk wants to return to the NHL. The New Jersey Devils still own the 34-year-old winger’s rights and Friedman said there’s no problem signing with them. If he wants to join another NHL club, it could require the unanimous approval of the other NHL clubs. Friedman speculates that if he doesn’t want to join the Devils or if they don’t want him, a team would work out a sign-and-trade with the Devils or acquire his rights. He thinks there will be significant interest in Kovalchuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given his age, Kovalchuk probably won’t get any offers beyond two years. No word on how much he’ll seek. My guess is his asking price could start at $7 million annually but he’ll likely end up taking between $5 – $6 million.