NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2018
Latest on the Wild and Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.
LAST CHANCE FOR WILD’S CORE GROUP?
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Sarah McLellan recently reported the Minnesota Wild’s veteran core (Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Eric Staal, Devan Dubnyk, Nino Niederreiter and Matt Dumba) all realize changes could be coming if they once again fall short in the playoffs.
The Wild made the postseason in each of the past six seasons but advanced beyond the opening round just twice. Paul Fenton took over this spring as general manager. He has no timetable to start tinkering with the lineup, in part because he hasn’t made a final assessment.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fenton did the right thing by not coming in and making a clean sweep of things this summer. Best to evaluate what you’ve got before deciding what changes must be made.
Two games into this season, the Wild haven’t had much jump or urgency in their game. There’s plenty of time, of course, to correct that problem. If it persists, to the point where their playoff hopes are in jeopardy, Fenton could be forced to make moves earlier than expected.
If Fenton does shake things up, either this season or next summer, it could involve younger players such as Brodin, Dumba, Zucker, Coyle or Niederreiter. All were mentioned in trade speculation last season.
Dumba and Zucker were re-signed by Fenton this summer so they’re less likely to move than the others. Still, it’s possible Fenton could entertain offers for either guy if a big shakeup is required.
Staal is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. If he and Fenton cannot hammer out a new contract before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline, he could become a useful bargaining chip.
Parise and Suter are well into their 30s and carry lengthy, expensive contracts that will be tough to move. Koivu has another year left on his deal but age (35) and declining production could hurt his trade value. Dubnyk has three years left on his deal. Given the lack of quality starting goalies available and his affordable $4.33-million cap hit I doubt he gets moved.
BRUINS HAVE A HOLE AT CENTER
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports the Boston Bruins will move David Backes into their third-line center position as they attempt to address the offseason departure of Riley Nash. They’ve tried youngsters such as Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson but they weren’t yet ready for that role. They also tried Sean Kuraly in that spot but he seems better suited on the fourth line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor but it is a situation that could bear watching. If Backes is a short-term solution and their younger centers aren’t yet ready for the role, GM Don Sweeney could be forced to test the trade market for help. He’ll also likely keep his eye on the waiver wire. Free-agent options are pretty slim.