NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2017
Latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Jimmy Howard plus updates on the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: James Duthie and Bob McKenzie recently examined what the future holds for Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Despite his solid performance in the 2017 playoffs, this is likely his last season with the Penguins, as it’s expected they’ll try to move him in order to protect Matt Murray from the expansion draft. However, McKenzie wondered if Penguins GM Jim Rutherford might reconsider if Fleury helps the club win the Stanley Cup or if he’s name playoff MVP.
Still, McKenzie believes the more logical decision will be Fleury’s playing elsewhere next season. Perhaps he’ll agree to waive his no-movement clause and accept getting drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights. Otherwise, the Penguins can try to trade him before the expansion draft, but his modified no-trade gives him control over where he goes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Murray having taken over since early in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators, most pundits suggest Fleury may have played his final game with the Penguins. Even if he returns to action and carries the Pens to championship glory, I believe Rutherford will trade or buy out Fleury before the expansion draft. There’s some speculation the Penguins could have a deal worked out with Vegas.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently reports the approaching expansion draft casts goaltender Jimmy Howard’s future with the Detroit Red Wings into doubt. He wonders if the Wings could lose Howard to the expansion draft, if the Wings could attempt to trade him or if the veteran returns with Petr Mrazek as Detroit’s goalie tandem next season.
MLIVE.COM: In a recent mailbag, Ansar Khan wondered if former Wings forward Thomas Vanek might have to accept another one-year contract via free agency. If the Wings can get him for one year at $3 million, he’d be fine with it.
Khan lists the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders as clubs with potential issues protecting defensemen in the upcoming expansion draft. He points out that Wild blueliner Matt Dumba frequently pops up in trade rumors. If the Predators and Jets decide not to protect four defensemen they could be forced to move one. The Isles could be forced to move Calvin de Haan, who’s rumored to be on the Wings’ radar, while the Ducks could be forced to expose Josh Manson.
A reader asked if the Wings might buy out someone this summer, such as Jonathan Ericsson or Jimmy Howard. Khan doubts they’ll buy out anyone.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the Wings do with Howard. Now that Ben Bishop and Scott Darling are out of the free-agent market, Howard could be an enticing trade target for clubs seeking a veteran starting goalie. While he’s only got two years left on his contract, it’s at nearly $5.2 million annually, which could prove unpalatable for some clubs. His injury history and recent consistency issues could dampen his trade value.
Vanek enjoyed his brief tenure with the Wings and I think he’d be willing to return, but they won’t overpay to bring him back. A year at $3 million sounds reasonable.
I expect the Wings will target those clubs at risk of losing a defenseman in the expansion draft in hopes of landing one via trade. It could cost them a top prospect or a promising young player.
STLTODAY.COM: Addressing 10 offseason questions from readers regarding the St. Louis Blues, Jeremy Rutherford believes they’ll try to tinker with their roster. He wouldn’t be surprised if they look at Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin or Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle, but would be a little surprised if they chase Colorado’s Matt Duchene.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues salary-cap space is also a factor. With over $68 million invested in 20 players for 2017-18 and restricted free agent defenseman Colton Parayko due for a significant raise, they don’t have a lot of room to take on a high-salaried player. They’ll either have to make a salary-dumping move, get a trade partner to retain some salary or attempt to make a dollar-for-dollar swap.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple recently speculated the New York Islanders could retool their defense corps for next season. He notes GM Garth Snow fielded offers last season for Travis Hamonic and wondered if Snow might revisit some of them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t rule anything out, but I think Hamonic’s trade value isn’t as strong as it was a year ago. Snow could prefer retaining him and instead try moving Calvin de Haan before the expansion draft.