NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2018
Latest on the Blues, Flames and Wild plus an update on Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes the St. Louis Blues must address their goaltending, find a center for Vladimir Tarasenko’s line and acquire depth scoring.
Starting goalie Jake Allen was inconsistent this season. The Blues hope he’ll rebound next season but Kaplan suggests he might need a change of scenery. The safest bet is re-signing backup Carter Hutton to a one-year contract.
Kaplan suggests the Blues pursue New York Islander center John Tavares if he hits the open market in July. She also proposes the Blues “should be active bidders for any forwards on the market this summer.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The market is thin this summer for good goaltenders via trades or free agency, so I expect the Blues will return with the Allen-Hutton tandem next season.
The Blues were reportedly shopping for scoring help in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, lined to Montreal’s Max Pacioretty and Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman. It remains to be seen if they’ll go after those guys but I do expect them to pursue a scoring forward this summer.
Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $64 million invested in 20 players for 2018-19 with all their core players under contract. Assuming an $80-million salary cap, they could have sufficient room to pursue Tavares if he becomes available and still have enough to fill out the rest of the roster.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?
THE ATHLETIC: Kent Wilson proposed an eight-point plan for the Calgary Flames to make the most of the offseason. Among his suggestions is finding depth at right wing, making a decision on forward Sam Bennett and find a goaltender capable of splitting time with starter Mike Smith. Regarding Bennett, Wilson feels his trade value could be affected the farther he drifts from his draft year and the promise of being an impactful player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Right-wing depth was an issue throughout this season for the Flames. The options are very thin via this summer’s free-agent market, with New Jersey’s Michael Grabner as the best of the bunch. They could have better luck via the trade market, perhaps by targeting a club looking to shed salary by packaging Bennett with a top prospect .
They could have better luck via free agency finding a reliable, affordable backup goalie. Options could include Boston’s Anton Khudobin, Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier and St. Louis’ Carter Hutton.
RECENT WILD SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked if he expected a higher salary-cap ceiling for next season could generate more trade activity and which players were most likely to be moved by the Minnesota Wild. He believes it will be a busy summer for trades. He expects the Montreal Canadiens to be active, pointing out they wanted to do a deal with the Wild before the trade deadline involving forwards Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. “It never really got close, sources say, mostly because the Wild weren’t willing to trade futures or significant players off their roster. The time just wasn’t right then. It very well could be this summer though.”
One reader brought up the Wild’s need to re-sign Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba plus a desire at some point to re-sign Eric Staal, wondering if Charlie Coyle could be their best trade option. Russo considers Coyle, with two years remaining on his contract at $3.2 million per season, to be “very moveable”, as well as perhaps Jonas Brodin, ” who will have three years left at $4.167 million per.”
Russo also doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Wild attempting to move forward Tyler Ennis, possibly by eating part of his cap hit. He also thinks a buyout is possible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyle was one of the players the Canadiens were reportedly looking at in the trade market. Maybe they’ll revisit that option with the Wild this summer. Brodin has surfaced in the rumor mill over the past two years but the Wild appear reluctant to move him. Buying out the final year of Ennis’ contract will free up over $2.4 million of cap space for next season.
Per source Ilya Kovalchuk is set to sign at 2-3 year deal with #NYR
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 9, 2018
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not doubting Eronko or his source, but let’s wait and see if the Rangers confirm this.