NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2018
Latest in Jimmy Howard, Kevin Hayes, and Nick Schmaltz in your NHL rumor mill.
WILL THE WINGS RE-SIGN HOWARD?
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports part of the credit for the Red Wings rebounding from a 0-5-2 start belongs to goaltender Jimmy Howard, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. That’s prompted speculation he might be moved at the trade deadline for a draft pick. Some wonder if the Los Angeles Kings might come calling with starting goalie Jonathan Quick on the sidelines.
However, the Wings are happy with Howard, who’s happy in Detroit, leading Khan to suggest “the sides are sure to agree on a contract extension this season.” He notes the Wings goaltending prospects are several years away from being NHL-ready and the Wings don’t see any viable options to replace Howard in next summer’s UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports’ James O’Brien questions the logic of the Wings re-signing Howard, suggesting they could end up overpaying to retain him by pointing to their previous overpayments of Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader and inking Jonathan Bernier last summer to a three-year deal worth $3 million per season. He also cited a recent article by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun pointing out such notables as Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky, Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov, Mike Smith, and Cam Talbot could be available. O’Brien feels they should take advantage of other teams’ goalie problems in hopes of getting a solid return akin to what they got last season for Tomas Tatar.
However, sometimes it’s better to go with the devil you know than the devil you don’t. The top options in next summer’s UFA market aren’t really that palatable. Bobrovsky will be massively expensive to sign and probably unwilling to join a rebuilding club, Varlamov has a long injury history, Smith is aging and injury prone and Talbot’s numbers have declined over the last two seasons. Perhaps a decent two-year extension can be worked out between Howard and the Red Wings.
TOO EARLY FOR HAYES TRADE RUMORS?
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During a Wednesday appearance on NBCSN, TSN’s Darren Dreger feels it’s a little early for trade speculation regarding New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes. He points out Hayes, a pending UFA, is playing well for the Rangers right now. ” I would say very early in the New Year we’ll be able to identify those specific teams with interest.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some in the New York media (hello there, Larry Brooks) feel the Rangers shouldn’t wait for the trade deadline to move Hayes or Mats Zuccarello if there’s a decent return to be found now. He suggests keeping them on the roster could block some of their younger players from moving up in the lineup.
But if the Rangers are indeed taking the long view toward rebuilding, it might be best to wait until the New Year when the value for Hayes and Zuccarello could be higher in the trade market.
BLACKHAWKS RELUCTANT TO GIVE SCHMALTZ A LONG-TERM DEAL?
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently noted the offensive struggles of Chicago Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz this season. He said the Blackhawks need Schmaltz to be “a productive distributor and goal scorer” if they’re going to give him a long-term contract. Powers cited a league source saying he wasn’t sure if the Blackhawks would invest long-term in Schmaltz. “The source thought the Blackhawks would be better off giving him a bridge deal or even trading him because he hadn’t been consistent enough.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schmaltz is behind last season’s 21-goal, 52-point performance (eight points in 15 games) but plenty of time remains in the schedule to regain his form. He’s also only 22 and still has room to grow into the player the Hawks need him to become.
They also hold all the contract leverage as Schmaltz is in the final year of his entry-level contract. If his production is down from last season, they’ll likely give him an affordable two- or three-year contract. Given their salary-cap limitations (over $61 million tied up in 14 players for 2019-20), perhaps they’ll offer Schmaltz a bridge deal regardless of performance with the promise of a bigger deal down the road.
As for trading him, I don’t think that’s something the Blackhawks will consider. This is a team that needs younger talent on their roster. Dealing away Schmaltz doesn’t make sense unless they’re getting good long-term value in return.