Updates on the Jets, Islanders and Red Wings – April 19, 2017
Another look at the goaltending of the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders and a painful rebuild in the works for the Detroit Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe recently reported the Winnipeg Jets could pay a high cost to improve their goaltending. While Eric Comrie has promise, Wiebe feels he needs another season in the AHL. The Jets don’t want to give up on Connor Hellebuyck and don’t wish to risk losing him to waivers.
They could look at bolstering their goalie depth via trade, though that likely won’t happen until before the NHL draft weekend (June 23-24). It wouldn’t make sense for them to swing a deal before the expansion draft as that would mean exposing Hellebuyck instead of Michael Hutchinson. Wiebe wonders if they should pursue an established starter such as Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury or try to find a young goalie on the verge of breaking out.
Los Angeles Kings netminder Ben Bishop could be on the Jets’ radar via free agency, but they’ll have competition from other clubs and he will seek a lucrative new deal. Other options could include Chicago’s Scott Darling and Ottawa’s Mike Condon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Jets will make a move via trade or free agency this summer to bring in an established starter. If the Jets are looking for a breakout goalie they should look at someone like the New York Rangers’ Antti Raanta or the Washington Capitals’ Philipp Grubauer. Both could hit the trade block before the expansion draft, but as Wiebe points out, acquiring one of them before that draft could mean exposing Hellebuyck. Darling or Condon would be more affordable options via free agency, but the Jets will have competition pursuing them.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple recently analyzed the New York Islanders’ weird year in goaltending. Inconsistent veteran Jaroslav Halak has a year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $4.5 million. Staple expects he’ll be unprotected in the expansion draft but doubts the Vegas Golden Knights will select him.
J-F Berube, 25, is a Group 6 free agent and appears ready to move on after being the third wheel for most of the past two seasons. Staple wouldn’t be surprised if Halak and Thomas Greiss are the Isles goalie tandem when training camp opens in September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Isles should buy out the final season of Halak’s contract and look for an upgrade between the pipes. Greiss seemed unable to the heavy workload of a starter and they seem to lack confidence in Berube. Remains to be seen what GM Garth Snow does, but the Isles must bolster their goaltending or risk missing the playoffs again next season.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings GM Ken Holland might not believe in a long-term rebuild, but George Sipple believes otherwise. He points out the Wings lack a No.1 defenseman, really don’t have a No. 2, and getting one is an “almost-impossible task.” Sipple also feels the Wings need more from their core of younger players, including Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser and Petr Mrazek, but it’s possible those players won’t get better.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a top defenseman will be a costly undertaking. They could target clubs deep in good young blueliners at risk of losing one via the expansion draft or in need of scoring depth, but that’ll mean parting with one or two promising young players. Of those core players noted by Sipple, none will bring the Wings a good defenseman unless they’re bundled into a larger deal.