Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 9, 2017
Latest on the Islanders, Kings & Coyotes plus some coaching speculation in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
NEWSDAY/NEW YORK POST: Arthur Staple and Larry Brooks examine the potential changes in store this summer for the New York Islanders. Both wonder if general manager Garth Snow and interim coach Doug Weight will return.
They also note the club can open contract talks on July 1 with captain John Tavares, who’s eligible in 2018 for unrestricted free agency. It remains to be seen if he’ll agree to a long-term extension or adopt a wait-and-see position for next season.
Questions about their goaltending trio of Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss and J-F Berube persist. Staple also expects the Isles could try to shore up their forward depth before the June expansion draft and possibly avoid losing a defenseman to Vegas for nothing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be time for a management change. Snow’s been in the job 11 seasons now. While the Isles aren’t the laughingstock they were a decade ago, they’re no closer to becoming a Stanley Cup contender. If so, they should make that move soon to allow time to negotiate with Tavares, address their goaltending mess and make those moves before the expansion draft. Given how well the Isles played for Weight when he took over in mid-January, I think he’s earned the opportunity to take over as their full-time coach.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes the LA Kings “absolutely will be shopping one of their second pairing defencemen — Alec Martinez or Jake Muzzin — for scoring help up front next season.” Martinez is 30 in July and better with the puck but Muzzin is two years younger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both are left-handed shots and on long-term deals worth $4 million annually. If the Kings intend to move one of them, they could attract interest from the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. All are in need of experienced blueline depth and have depth to spare in scoring forwards.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan believes this summer will be crucial for the Arizona Coyotes. While he applauds the club’s stockpiling of young assets, he feels they must explore all avenues this summer if they’re committed to winning. He believes they cannot have another summer of empty salary-cap hits and must address their need for a top-pairing right-handed defenseman and a first-line center.
He suggests the Coyotes target the Anaheim Ducks for address their blueline need. If John Tavares and the New York Islanders reach a contract impasse, he recommends the Coyotes move heaven and earth to acquire him. Failing that, “maybe the Rangers will look to move Derek Stepan or the Oilers will look to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have the young assets to use as trade bait this summer. The June expansion draft could work to their advantage.I think they have a better chance to improve their blueline than they will in acquiring a top-line center.
If Tavares and the Isles fail to hammer out a new deal, it would be worthwhile for the Coyotes to explore acquiring him, though they’d also need assurances he’d be willing to re-sign with them. Nugent-Hopkins isn’t a first-line center as he’s more comfortable in a second-line role.
If the Rangers feel they must free up cap space to pursue a defenseman such as Kevin Shattenkirk, maybe they’ll consider moving Stepan. However, it’ll have to be before July 1 as his no-trade clause kicks in then. Still, there’s no certainty the Blueshirts will part ways with him.
SPORTNET: Elliotte Friedman reports this offseason could see a significant number of coaching changes in the NHL. He said Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee reached out to London Knights coach Dale Hunter to see if he’d be interested in becoming Vegas’ bench boss but Hunter declined. Friedman expects the Florida Panthers could look at Jim Montgomery of the University of Denver or former Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. Kelly Hrudey hears Darryl Sutter might not be back with the Los Angeles Kings, citing concerns over the Kings ability to play a speedier game.
VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma wonders if Willie Desjardins will return next season as coach of the Vancouver Canucks. He points out there was no vote of confidence from management this season, citing instead injuries and a tough year. Kuzma suggests there’s a feeling that change is at hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We could find out later this week when the first of the coaching changes begin for some of this year’s non-playoff clubs. The Panthers have already indicated that interim coach Tom Rowe won’t be returning behind the bench next season.