Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 28, 2017
Latest on the Avalanche, Ducks, Blue Jackets & more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman notes the Colorado Avalanche could have decisions to make regarding their goaltending. They intend to protect Semyon Varlamov in the expansion draft but Friedman can’t see them losing backup Calvin Pickard for nothing, especially after his solid performance for Canada at the 2017 World Championships. Pickard has a year left on his contract at $1 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Avs committed to protecting Varlamov they’ll have to expose Pickard. GM Joe Sakic could try to swing a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights to ensure they select someone else in the expansion draft. Otherwise, Sakic could be forced to trade Pickard rather than risk losing him for nothing to Vegas.
One executive told Friedman that Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie is available “but it’s got to be a legitimate hockey trade.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pretty much the same terms apply to Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. Sakic will entertain offers but won’t move any one of those guys unless he’s getting a solid return. In other words, no deals built solely on draft picks, prospects or aging and expensive talent. Barrie could attract interest from the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning or Toronto Maple Leafs. All are reportedly in the market for a mobile defenseman with a right-handed shot. However, there could be concerns over his defensive skills.
Friedman notes the Anaheim Ducks are closing in on re-signing Cam Fowler and a source claim “a stop sign goes up” when inquiries are made into Hampus Lindholm. With Sami Vatanen sidelined perhaps longer than five months recovering from shoulder surgery, it could affect his trade value. Friedman wonders if teams are willing to acquire him if they’ll have to wait one, two or possibly three months into next season for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Ducks don’t move Vatanen and he’s exposed in the expansion draft, I wonder if his shoulder injury could give Vegas second thoughts?
If Ducks GM Bob Murray shops a defenseman, Friedman doubts he’ll move him to a Western Conference club, “unless he covets the third-overall pick from Dallas.” He’s heard the Ducks covet Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett, “but would they really want to do this deal with Calgary?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For that matter, do the Flames really want to deal Bennett? And if they do, would they want to ship him to a Pacific Division rival?
Friedman doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will trade winger Connor Brown. He also reports Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill seeks a defenseman “that makes a difference.” The Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild could address that need, as could the Winnipeg Jets if they’re willing to part with Jacob Trouba, though Friedman doubts they’ll do that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill is definitely in the market for a skilled defenseman. While this year’s draft isn’t a deep one, that third-overall selection will still have value in the trade market. The Stars GM could package it with a promising prospect, especially to clubs with defensive depth in need of shedding salary. As for the Jets, they could listen to offers for Trouba, but the asking price was expensive last year and I doubt it’ll be lower this summer.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is in the market for “a sniper in the key moments.” He’s hoping Pierre-Luc Dubois, last year’s third-overall pick, can help. Friedman believes Blue Jackets rearguard Ryan Murray’s name is in the rumor mill but Kekalainen would discuss him specifically.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets have over $70 million tied up in 22 players for next season. If Murray is moved it’ll free up over $2.8 million in cap space, providing some much-needed wiggle room to re-sign RFAs such as Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson.
Friedman knows there’s some interest in Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who was their best player last season. He doubts the Coyotes move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Smith wants out of Arizona, I also doubt the Coyotes trade him this summer.
It sounds like there’s a significant gap in contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and backup goalie Mike Condon.
Luke Fox lists New York Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, Dallas Stars goaltender Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen, Anaheim Ducks blueliner Kevin Bieksa, Edmonton Oilers winger Benoit Pouliot, Colorado Avalanche rearguard Francois Beauchemin, Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Scott Hartnell, Washington Capitals d-man Brooks Orpik, Los Angeles Kings wingers Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, Tampa Bay Lighning defenseman Jason Garrison and Buffalo Sabres forward Matt Moulson as this summer’s top buyout candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the Rangers blueliners, Girardi seems the most likely buyout candidate. He’s certainly been the most mentioned. I expect the Stars will buy out Niemi and keep Lehtonen as Ben Bishop’s backup. Bieksa suffered an MCL tear in the playoffs, which could make him ineligible for a buyout. Gaborik underwent knee surgery and could also be ineligible.
The Oilers have over $53 million invested in 18 players next season so they don’t have to buy out Pouliot this summer. I can certainly see him being bought out next summer, when he has only a year left on his contract. The Blue Jackets could consider a buyout of Hartnell to clear cap space but they could look at a cost-cutting trade involving Hartnell or someone else. Brown still has five years left on his contract, meaning they’ll carry a buyout for 10 years. The Kings could consider other options. Because Beauchemin’s on a 35-plus contract, the Avs won’t get cap relief by buying him out.
The Caps could buy out the final two years of Orpik’s contract to free up cap space, as could the Lightning with Garrison. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if their respective clubs attempt to trade them by packaging them with a pick or prospect and perhaps offering to pick up part of their remaining cap hits.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also wondered if Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen’s shoulder surgery might adversely affect his trade value. If so, could it force possible suitors, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, to “move on to a Plan B that could feature Justin Faulk or Jacob Trouba?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule it out, though the asking price for Faulk or Trouba could be more expensive than what it would take to land Vatanen.