Updates on the Bruins & Stars – May 7, 2017
Looking ahead to potential offseason options for the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty believes the Boston Bruins should avoid free agency this summer to address their roster needs. He noted Bruins president Cam Neely doesn’t anticipate his club will be very busy chasing free agents. Haggerty thinks that’s a good thing, noting the mixed results they got from the expensive signings of Matt Beleskey and David Backes over the last two years.
It sounds as though the Bruins are leaning toward trades to bolster their defense. He advocates they wait for things to settle down with the expansion draft and free agency and use “some of their treasure trove of prospects to swap for a left winger like Gabriel Landeskog or a left-side defenseman like Cam Fowler.” However, in a recent mailbag segment, he expressed doubt that Fowler will be leaving the Ducks.
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy believes Bruins restricted free agent forward Ryan Spooner could have some value in the trade market, especially if he’s packaged with another asset. If Spooner isn’t traded before the expansion draft, Conroy suggests placing him on the Bruins list of protected players, rather than lose the winger for nothing.
If Beleskey or Jimmy Hayes are unprotected, Conroy doubts the Vegas Golden Knights will be interested in either guy with a sweetener coming from the Bruins. Defensemen Adam McQuaid or Colin Miller could be left unprotected.
Conroy also notes Bruins GM Don Sweeney doesn’t expect to be very busy in the UFA market. However, the pundit suggests Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino could be worth pursuing if he becomes available on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Neely and Sweeney could be engaging in some misdirection with their comments about unrestricted free agency, but I think Haggerty’s correct in his assumption that they’ll likely look toward the trade market. They’ve got the assets in draft picks and prospects and could targets clubs at risk of losing a good left wing or defenseman via the expansion draft. That could take them out of the bidding this summer for Washington Capitals UFA defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika believes next month’s expansion draft offers the Dallas Stars a good opportunity to upgrade their goaltending. While Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi each have a year remaining on their respective contracts, both could be left exposed in the draft. Heika doesn’t expect either guy will be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights.
He speculates the Stars could acquire another goalie via trade and leave Lehtonen and Niemi exposed. Goalies who could be available are ” Joonas Korpisalo of Columbus, Antti Raanta of the Rangers, Philipp Grubauer of Washington, and one of Pittsburgh’s two goalies – Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury.” Heika wonders if the Stars will take this opportunity or ” simply buy out Niemi, keep Lehtonen, and sign a free agent like Ben Bishop or Steve Mason?
Heika also wonders if the Stars could leave forward Cody Eakin exposed in the expansion draft. He also speculates that they could shop Eakin or Antoine Roussel before the draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars cannot return next season with the tandem of Lehtonen and Niemi. I expect they’ll either try to acquire a goalie before the expansion draft, target clubs with goaltending depth looking to shed salary or pursue Ben Bishop via free agency. I think they’ll be looking at the trade market first.
Heika notes the Stars new head coach Ken Hitchcock intends to keep Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin at center. With Radek Faksa considered a lock as their third-line center it could mean either moving Eakin to the wing (where he’s less effective) or exposing him in the draft.