NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2017
Latest on the Wild, Oilers, Islanders, Flames and more in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported teams are inquiring into the trade status of Minnesota Wild winger Nino Niederreiter. There’s also speculation they could listen to offers for Mikael Granlund. Both are restricted free agents this summer and the Wild are pressed for salary-cap space. Given the club’s logjam on defense, Matt Dumba’s name could also come up. Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said he’s actively listening on everything.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The StarTribune.com’s Michael Russo also reports Fletcher is listening to offers, acknowledging there could be a change or two to his roster. Russo noted the Wild GM remains committed to re-signing Niederreiter and Granlund. However, the Wild are likely to lose a quality player in next month’s expansion draft. Fletcher’s also received calls about Charlie Coyle and Jonas Brodin.
It sounds as though Fletcher isn’t simply looking to free up cap room but also wants improve his roster. He’s not looking at a simple salary dump here. If he makes a trade it could come before he has to submit his expansion draft protected list on June 17. Given their blueline depth they’ll likely lose a defenseman to Vegas, but Fletcher could opt to move one before the draft.
Friedman also wonders about possible offseason moves by the Capitals, suggesting head coach Barry Trotz’s future isn’t secure. Trotz has a year remaining on his contract. He also notes the club has “significant roster choices” and must make an honest assessment of captain Alex Ovechkin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, trading Ovechkin needs the approval of team owner Ted Leonsis. If he’s against it, Ovechkin won’t be going anywhere.
The St. Louis Blues claim there won’t be many changes to their roster, but Friedman suggests they could use more scoring depth. He thinks they’d be a good destination for Edmonton Oilers winger Jordan Eberle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of trade speculation dogging Eberle since the Oilers were eliminated last week from the playoffs. However, Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun reports Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli seems to be pumping the brakes on that chatter. He’s saying there’s no blockbuster deal comparable to last summer’s Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson swap.
Despite Eberle’s struggles in the playoffs, Chiarelli said he liked how he performed in the regular season and pointed out this was the winger’s first appearance in the playoffs. Meanwhile, TSN’s Bob McKenzie suggests Eberle’s salary ($6 million per season) and playoff struggles hurts his trade value.
Friedman could see the Detroit Red Wings having interest in New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan. The Isles risk losing de Haan in the expansion draft. He also wonders if they might make a “hard push” for winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Russian sources claim Kovalchuk is interested in joining the Rangers but Friedman isn’t sure of their interest or if they could land him if they wanted to. The Florida Panthers may have also inquired about Kovalchuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk lining up alongside John Tavares could provide the Isles with a strong offensive punch. However, we don’t know if Kovalchuk wants to join the Isles or if they’re even interested in chasing him.
CALGARY SUN: With Ben Bishop and Scott Darling out of the free-agent market, Eric Francis examines possible goaltending options for the Calgary Flames. The most obvious trade option is Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury but he won’t come cheap, especially with his stock soaring thanks to his strong performance in this year’s playoffs. Francis speculates that “the asking price would include several top prospects and/or a significant young roster player.”
Trade options could include the Rangers’ Antti Raanta, Washington’s Philipp Grubauer, Arizona’s Mike Smith, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek, Carolina’s Cam Ward, Buffalo’s Robin Lehner or Florida’s James Reimer. Pending UFAs include Ryan Miller, Mike Condon, Steve Mason or Jonathan Bernier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a lot to choose from here. Fleury seems the best option but he also has to agree to accept a trade to the Flames. Raanta, Grubauer and Condon are solid backups but they’ve yet to prove themselves as starters.
Smith is aging, carries an expensive cap hit ($5.6 million) as well as a full no-trade clause. Howard also has an injury history while Mrazek’s been inconsistent.
Mason’s been plagued by both issues in his career. Miller and Ward are past their prime. Bernier has starter experience but he could be best suited for backup duty.