NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2017
More “Bozak to Rangers” speculation plus updates on Ryan Spooner & Will Butcher in your NHL rumor mill.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports there’s “zero evidence” Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak is in play for the New York Rangers or that the Blueshirts intend to buy out defenseman Marc Staal. But if Bozak ($4.2 million salary cap hit) were in play, Brooks believes buying out Staal would free up sufficient salary cap space for the Rangers to acquire the Leafs center, perhaps by packaging defenseman Nick Holden with a draft pick. If the Rangers buy out Staal, the deadline for doing so is today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks believes the Rangers need depth at center after trading away Derek Stepan to Arizona last month. Earlier this month, he suggested the Blueshirts look into acquiring Bozak, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agency. The Leafs could use some experienced depth on their blueline but it doesn’t appear they have any interest in Holden or in peddling Bozak.
CSNNE.COM: Ryan Spooner avoided salary arbitration yesterday by signing a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins. However, Joe Haggerty feels this is the 25-year-old forward’s last chance to “show some growth as a player” if he hopes to remain with the Bruins beyond 2017-18. If he doesn’t, it’s only a matter of time until he becomes trade bait. His $2.825 million cap hit should be easy to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since last fall, trade speculation has dogged Spooner. This coming season could be a make-or-break one for him. While his cap hit is affordable, poor performance could hurt his trade value.
NBC SPORTS: Jame O’Brien took note of 2017 Hobey Baker Award-winning defenseman Will Butcher’s decision not to sign with the Colorado Avalanche, making him eligible on Aug. 15 for unrestricted free agency. He expects Butcher, like Jimmy Vesey last summer, will attract considerable interest. He points out bloggers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks are already making the case for their clubs to pursue Butcher.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan believes it’ll make sense for the New Jersey Devils to pursue Butcher, noting they’re in the same situation with college center Alex Kerfoot. He points out the Devils need help on defense and GM Ray Shero intends to be active this summer in improving his roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Vesey last summer, Butcher isn’t doing this to get a better contract but to have a choice in where he gets to play. So far, there’s no indication on preferred destinations for the Madison, Wisconsin native.
If he wants to play close to home, the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs could be options. That’s just speculation on my part. I’m sure we’ll learn more as Aug. 15 approaches.