NHL Rumor Mill – June 26, 2017
Updates on Joe Thornton, Kevin Shattenkirk, Andrei Markov & other notable UFAs in your NHL rumor mill.
NEW YORK POST/TORONTO SUN: Larry Brooks reports it’s unknown whether San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton is willing to come to New York and reunite with buddy Rick Nash with the Rangers. it’s expected Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton could kick the tires on the soon-to-be 38-year-old center. Meanwhile, Steve Simmons the Nashville Predators could also have interest in Thornton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton’s preference is to finish his career in San Jose. However, he reportedly seeks a three-year deal which could be too lengthy for the Sharks. If he hits the open market he could try to stay close to California. As for the Preds interest, I think that hinges on their efforts to pry Matt Duchene away from the Colorado Avalanche.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports Lightning GM Steve Yzerman could be looking into signing Washington Capitals UFA defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Yzerman, however, is wary about losing his recently gained salary-cap flexibility. The Lightning attempted to acquire Shattenkirk before he was dealt to the Capitals by the St. Louis Blues but the blueliner spiked the deal because he didn’t want to sign a long-term extension with the Bolts.
Yzerman could also check on UFA blueliners Karl Alzner and Cody Franson and could still consider the trade market to bolster their blueline. He also hopes to add a top-nine winger via free agency. Possible fits include Washington’s Justin Williams and former Lightning Brian Boyle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk is seeking top dollar on a long-term deal, possibly a seven-year contract worth over $7 million annually. Unless he’s willing to lower his price or Yzerman can free up more cap space, the chances he’ll land in Tampa Bay appear slim.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports term remains a sticking point in contract talks between the Canadiens and right wing Alexander Radulov, who apparently seeks a seven-year deal. Hickey advocates re-signing long-time Habs blueliner Andrei Markov to a two-year deal. Otherwise, GM Marc Bergevin will be left scrambling to find a suitable replacement.
There’s speculation restricted free agent winger Alex Galchenyuk could be shopped for a high-end defenseman but that will leave a hole in the Canadiens offense. If Galchenyuk isn’t shopped he won’t get a long-term extension from the Canadiens and Hickey wouldn’t be surprised if his negotiations head to arbitration.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Radulov, who turns 31 in July, is dreaming if he thinks he’s getting a seven-year deal from the Habs or anyone else via free agency. If he’s willing to accept four years, the Habs will be receptive to that. I expect Markov will get a two-year deal, especially because losing him to free agency hurts their already weakened blueline depth. Bergevin is obviously listening to offers for Galchenyuk but will keep him in the short term if he doesn’t get worthwhile return.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jason Bell reports Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is likely to go shopping for a veteran goaltender to split the duties with Connor Hellebuyck. “Recipients of a call from the Jets could include the camps of UFAs Brian Elliott, 32, of the Calgary Flames, Steve Mason, 29, of the Philadelphia Flyers, Jonathan Bernier, 28, of the Anaheim Ducks or Ryan Miller, 36, of the Vancouver Canucks.” Bell also suggests Carolina Hurricanes veteran Cam Ward could be available via trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliott or Mason could be the best bets for the Jets. Both are coming off inconsistent performance last season and I think they can be had for affordable one- or two-year deals. Both should be looking for bounce-back efforts next season.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa believes the Detroit Red Wings should take advantage of the lack of quality goalies in the UFA market by shopping Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek for a return that can help their roster rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets and Philadelphia Flyers could be worthwhile trade targets. Both need help between the pipes for next season.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford faces potentially replacing UFA centers Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen. The best options in the trade market are Colorado’s Matt Duchene (who would be expensive in both return and contract) and Chicago’s Marcus Kruger (earning over $3 million as a low-scoring center). Given the lack of depth in the UFA market, Rutherford’s best option could be attempting to re-sign Bonino and talking Cullen out of retirement.
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney could continue his efforts to land a left-handed defenseman leading up to the start of the UFA market on July 1. The Bruins were linked to Minnesota Wild blueliner Marco Scandella over the weekend but it’s unclear how deep that interest ran. Conroy also suggests Sweeney look at Pittsburgh’s Nick Bonino as a possible replacement for Ryan Spooner, who was a healthy scratch in the playoffs.