Latest on the Ducks & Rangers – May 23, 2017
Suggested offseason moves for the Anaheim Ducks & New York Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: In the wake of the Anaheim Ducks’ playoff elimination in the Western Conference Final, Craig Custance believes they should trade winger Corey Perry, trade a young defenseman for a young forward and re-sign defenseman Cam Fowler to a contract extension.
Custance advocates moving the 31-year-old Perry, whose production declined this season, believing they cannot afford to continue carrying his $8.625 annual salary-cap hit for the next four seasons. He acknowledged this won’t be easy, given Perry’s salary and no-movement clause, but feels Perry’s winning pedigree and the possibility he could regain his 30-goal form could attract interest.
The Ducks are deep on defense and risk losing a good young defenseman for nothing in the expansion draft. Custance feels the Tampa Bay Lightning could be a good trade partner and wonders if the Ducks could pry winger Jonathan Drouin out of Tampa Bay.
Custance expects the Ducks won’t waste time re-signing Fowler, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility, to a long-term contract extension in July. He guesses it could be an eight-year deal for around $6.5 million annually. If blueliner Kevin Bieksa won’t waive his no-movement clause before the expansion draft, Custance advises buying him out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the decline in Perry’s production in the regular season, I suspect Ducks management will point to his leadership and clutch scoring in this year’s playoffs (three overtime goals) to justify retaining him. While I don’t doubt there would be interest in Perry if he hit the trade block, that hefty cap hit will dampen enthusiasm.
I also expect the Ducks will shop one of their young defensemen for a young scoring forward. Sami Vatanen, Brandon Montour, Josh Manson or Shea Theodore are possible trade candidates. It wouldn’t surprise me if management convinces Bieksa to waive the NMC, gambling that the expansion Golden Knights won’t select a 35-year-old blueliner who’s nearing the end of his career.
Remember all the trade speculation involving Fowler last summer? I doubt we’ll see it again this summer. I concur with Custance that he’ll likely get over $6 million annually on a long-term deal.
NEW YORK POST: If New York Rangers management believes Oscar Lindberg can center one of their top three lines, Larry Brooks suggests they have no option other than to use center Derek Stepan as trade bait for a top-pairing right defenseman. He points out Lindberg skated with Nicklas Backstrom and William Nylander for Sweden in the recent World Championships, suggesting he’s been under-utilized in his brief NHL career.
Brooks also suggests the Rangers should find a way to re-sign defenseman Brendan Smith, who could be willing to forego unrestricted free agency to stay with the Blueshirts for a fair market deal. They acquired Smith from the Detroit Red Wings before the trade deadline and he proved to be a worthwhile addition. Brooks feels the Rangers can afford a four- or five-year deal worth between $4 – $4.5 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan could indeed be an attractive trade chip to land a quality defenseman, but it could prove a risky move. Lindberg playing alongside Backstrom and Nylander at the Worlds doesn’t necessarily mean he can handle a bigger role with potentially lesser linemates on the Rangers. Mika Zibanejad has yet to prove he can handle the first-line center role on a full-time basis and Kevin Hayes can be inconsistent. J.T. Miller can skate at center but the Rangers could be more comfortable with him on the wing.
With over $63 million invested in 18 players for 2016-17, the Rangers can afford to re-sign Smith if they wish. A possible buyout of Dan Girardi and the loss of a salaried player in the expansion draft will clear up more cap room but they will likely need more space to re-sign Smith and bring in that top-pairing right-side defenseman.