NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2017
Updates on the Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks in your NHL rumor mill.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Prior to the Dallas Stars signing goaltender Ben Bishop, Mike Heika listed five possible free-agent defensemen and forwards who could help the club. The defensemen are Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner, Edmonton’s Kris Russell, Philadelphia’s Michael Del Zotto and Pittsburgh’s Trevor Daley. The forwards include Montreal’s Alexander Radulov, Washington’s TJ Oshie and Justin Williams, Anaheim’s Patrick Eaves and Los Angeles’ Jarome Iginla.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars acquisition and signing of Bishop could be their only significant free-agent move. But if I had to pick one from each list I’d go with Alzner and Oshie. The Stars already have a good puck-moving blueliner in John Klingberg and could use an experienced shutdown rearguard such as Alzner, who’s 28 and in his playing prime. Williams has the championship pedigree but he turns 36 in October and his best years are behind him. Oshie is 30 and still has a few good seasons left. Feel free to make your picks in the comments section, everyone!
THE HOCKEY NEWS: With the Stars acquiring and signing Ben Bishop, Jared Clinton examined goaltending options for the Calgary Flames. He lists Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, Philadelphia’s Steve Mason, the New York Islanders Jaroslav Halak and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury as trade or free-agent options. He also suggests re-signing Brian Elliott.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury is the best of this bunch. Despite his strong performance in this postseason, the Penguins are expected to protect Matt Murray in the expansion draft and either trade or buy out Fleury before submitting their list of protected players on June 17. The Flames reportedly looked into acquiring Fleury last summer but the Pens apparently wanted their first-round selection in the 2016 draft. The asking price could be more reasonable this June.
Howard and Mason are plagued by injuries and inconsistency, Halak is past his prime and Elliott simply didn’t pan out as hoped with the Flames this season. I can also see the Flames targeting clubs at risk of losing a good goaltender in the expansion draft. Anaheim’s Jonathan Bernier, the New York Rangers’ Antti Raanta, Ottawa’s Mike Condon and Washington’s Philipp Grubauer could be trade targets.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed six priorities for Buffalo Sabres new general manager Jason Botterill to address. Among the suggestions is using their salary-cap space wisely by investing in the defense and find a goaltender. He suggests “Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, Michael Stone, Trevor Daley and Michael Del Zotto” as possible free-agent targets.
Fox also wonders if Botterill will re-sign restricted free agent goalie Robin Lehner or shop for a replacement via trade or free agency. “Steve Mason, Jaroslav Halak, Mike Condon, Brian Elliott, and Marc-Andre Fleury come to mind.Detroit’s Jimmy Howard is from Syracuse, N.Y. Just saying.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Fox points out, Lehner put up decent numbers behind an atrocious defense last season. However, he also has a lengthy injury history. The Sabres need durability as well as skill between the pipes.
Of those on his list, Fleury and Condon would be the best bets, but I doubt Fleury will waive his no-trade to go to Buffalo. Condon might leap at the chance to be a clear-cut starter in Buffalo. Other options could include Anaheim’s Jonathan Bernier, the New York Rangers’ Antti Raanta and Washington’s Philipp Grubauer.
CSN BAY AREA: Kevin Kurz recently suggested it’s time for San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson to make another big move akin to his acquisitions of Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns. Even if the Sharks part ways with aging stars Thornton and Patrick Marleau, he believes they still have the pieces to remain a competitive team “if they make the right moves.”
Kurz wonders if they’ll get into the discussions for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene or Nathan MacKinnon. If the New York Islanders are unable to re-sign John Tavares and decide to trade him, maybe Wilson will get into the bidding. “Perhaps Philadelphia, which got lucky in the draft lottery with the second overall pick, will look to move captain Claude Giroux to make way for Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Kurz is merely speculating here. Given the potential upheaval next month’s expansion draft could create in the trade market, Wilson could keep an eye out for a possible blockbuster. If he goes that route it will mean parting ways with Thornton and Marleau.