NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2017
A look at the offseason goalie market and Nail Yakupov’s future in your NHL rumor mill.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Elliotte Friedman discussing the offseason goalie market with Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, with an emphasis on possible moves by the Calgary Flames.
He believes the Dallas Stars will buy out Antti Niemi if they’re unable to trade him or if the Vegas Golden Knights pass on him in the expansion draft.
He also cites colleague Nick Kypreos claiming he’s hearing there’s something going on with the Golden Knights and the Pittsburgh Penguins regarding Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s enjoying a strong performance in this year’s playoffs.
Friedman wonders if Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving has any interest in Ottawa Senators pending free-agent goalie Mike Condon. He also speculates about the possibility of Treliving bringing back the tandem of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson. Friedman also cites a source saying the Nashville Predators are reluctant to trade backup Juuse Saros.
When asked about New York Rangers backup Antti Raanta, Friedman felt he’d also be a good option for the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Flames keeping Johnson and looking hard next month for a new starter. Elliott really struggled this season in Calgary. Still, they could bring him back if they cannot find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency.
Fleury going to Vegas would be an interesting development. Most observers (myself included) dismissed that possibility earlier this year, assuming he’d prefer joining a more established playoff contender. Fleury must agree to waive his no-movement clause to become eligible for the expansion draft. He must also agree to a trade if Vegas is looking at going that route.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe examines possible goaltending options for the Winnipeg Jets now that Ben Bishop and Scott Darling are out of the free-agent market. He doubts they’ll trade Connor Hellebuyck or expose him in the expansion draft.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s outstanding postseason play this spring with the Penguins likely rules him out as a trade option as he could become more expensive to obtain. He suggests the Flames could be a good fit for Fleury.
Speaking of the Flames, Wiebe suggests Brian Elliott might be worthwhile for the Jets in a mentor role with Hellebuyck. Other options could include Anaheim’s Jonathan Bernier, Ottawa’s Mike Condon, the Rangers’ Antti Raanta or Washington’s Philipp Grubauer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are grooming Hellebuyck as their future starter. Someone like Elliott could be worthwhile as a mentor. Bernier, Condon, Raanta and Grubauer, however, see themselves as starting goalie material and could challenge Hellebuyck for that job.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton reports St. Louis Blues right winger Nail Yakupov is determined to remain in the NHL. Yakupov, the first-overall selection by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2012 NHL Draft, is a restricted free agent this summer. He’s struggled to develop into a scoring winger. It’s unlikely he’ll be re-signed by the Blues, who acquired him from the Oilers earlier this season. Clinton lists the Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings as possible destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If, as expected, the Blues decline to qualify Yakupov’s rights, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s completing a two-year, $5 million contract. Any interest club could get him for far less on a one-year deal this summer.
Most of the clubs on this list carry limited salary-cap space and need affordable scoring depth. The Golden Knights, of course, could select him via the expansion draft.
If TJ Oshie and Justin Williams depart via free agency, the Capitals will need help on the right side. The Canadiens need scoring help but they need more depth at center.