NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2021

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Rumors | 19 comments

Could the Rangers pursue a veteran defenseman this summer? Which pending free agents will the Red Wings keep? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently reported the Rangers were a finalist in the offseason Zdeno Chara sweepstakes before the 44-year-old defenseman signed with the Washington Capitals. Brooks feels they need to add a veteran presence to their blue line. Someone in their mid-to-late 20s or even in their thirties from a winning program, preferably with a Stanley Cup on his resume, would be ideal.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could look into this year’s unrestricted free agent market to address that need. The one who best fits that description is Vegas’ Alec Martinez (33), who won two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings. Chara could also be available again but he might still prefer playing for Cup contenders if he decides to return for another season. Minnesota’s Ian Cole and Toronto’s Zach Bogosian also have Stanley Cups on their resume but aren’t as skilled as Martinez or as respected as Chara.

The top defenseman potentially available is Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton but he’ll be expensive to sign. The Blueshirts could prefer more affordable options given their depth in young players and the cost of re-signing some of them over the next couple of years.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent mailbag segment, Helene St. James was asked which pending UFAs the Red Wings could bring back. They include center Luke Glendening, goaltender Jonathan Bernier, defenseman Marc Staal and forwards Bobby Ryan, Sam Gagner, Darren Helm and Valtteri Filppula.

St. James considers Glendening a lock to be re-signed given his presence in the dressing room and his work ethic and professionalism. Bernier is a close second because he gives the Wings a chance to win every game he plays plus they lack an NHL-ready netminder in their farm system.

Ryan and/or Gagner could be re-signed depending on the circumstances. Perhaps one-year deals can be worked out for Helm and Staal. Filppula isn’t expected back as he was a healthy scratch until injuries forced otherwise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Red Wings with just $33.4 million invested in only nine players for 2021-22. They can easily afford to re-sign most or all of those aforementioned UFAs to cost-effective one-year contracts if they wish. How many of them want to return with the rebuilding Wings remains to be seen. Guys like Glendening and Bernier could draw interest from playoff contenders if they test the open market.


  1. Playoff contenders missed the boat on Glendening . Unless the ask was a first plus or multiple assets. I doubt that to be the case. A couple of weeks back 64% face off win percentage

    WIngs need to play the kids.

  2. Why would anyone think that Detroit is potentially bringing back FIVE ufas? Helm? STAAL?? Give me a break.

    Helene St. James is the absolute worst local media around. Absolutely clueless, a total and complete hack.

    • Ha! Great Minds, Garth! My first thoughts on the wings re-upping most of those current guys too. I think they purposefully did not trade Glendening b/c of his face-off strength, but I don’t see anyone currently playing that you could argue is an untouchable at this juncture, if they make a trade. I also agree that the hockey scribes must feel compelled to “write something” and do to meet requirements for work and general are better at interviews than general managing. On of the guys working the Chicago beat on the Athletic said this week the hawk’s 2020 3rd rounder Wyatt Kaiser (81st overall) was their closest chance at a true NHL number one defenseman, before never playing a pro game. When I write my player evaluations of prospects (DraftSite was bought by Lines.com), I try to stay away from too much negatives on each kid, but also temper writing this prospect is a top pair guy, or a “#1 NHL defenseman” before they play a franking NHL game. You simply don’t know if lack of dedication, improvement, future injuries, and NHL reality derail NHL futures “upside.” My “job” is easier with kids because it is more rose-color glasses optics and when people start contacting me about them asking, I say let them progress and we know nothing until they start playing and have some success, and even that give them time. (Those re-signable Red Wings have gotten plenty of views and I think we know where thy are.

    • Yes, St. James should refrain from playing hockey GM. A few years ago, she suggested that the Wing’s should protect a goalie named Jared Coreau in the Vegas expansion draft. Coreau is now a back-up goalie in Bratislava. But she is not alone – not one in ten sportswriters/local sports media commentators has any business trying to pass themselves off as an expert in the sport they cover. And there are zero in Detroit in any sport. It is currently not worth my time reading the Detroit sports pages because there are no talented writers worth reading.

  3. Bernier is a close second because he gives the Wings a chance to win every game he plays …

    I threw up in my mouth a little bit after reading that gem …

    • That’s because you have acid reflux, caused by a low hockey IQ and blatant ignorance towards acting civil on a public hockey forum. It isn’t common or anything like that. Do you feel special?
      C’mon, give us a quick one about Le turnover or Fragile Malkin?

      • I thought Leturnover was one word?
        Learn something everyday.

        He has been really good this year BTW.

      • I don’t disagree…….but…..was that retort considered civil in anyway?
        Its hockey folks. Lets not ‘put on the foil’ over hockey opinions.

      • With ed civil went out the window a long time ago. Besides, he’s rarely “civil” himself.

      • You’re right, Soupcan. My bad. I should practice what I preach.

    • Wow. Ed! You caught a bunch in your net!

      Common people. He thrives off your posts. Stop being his minnows.

  4. Rangers are already loaded with young defensemen. Unless they deal away prospects for someone like Eichel, they’re not signing any Dmen. Sure, maybe they made an offer for Chara before signing Jack Johnson, but situation is a little different now.

    • As much as it shocks me to say this, I would keep Smith around before I invested in any of the names mentioned above. Smith might have been overpaid and underused or what we expected was beyond reason but he’s been solid for them this season in the role he’s playing.

    • agree with you Slick , there are no defensemen in next years UFA group are worth overpaying for. If anything they could go the trade route, especially teams that are potentially going to loose an experienced D man in the expansion draft … Gorton chould call Guerin.

  5. Wings fans,

    I asked the other day but didn’t get a reply.

    What’s the deal with Jon Merrill? Small sample size but the eye tests shows him to be a really good D, great gap, excellent foot speed, light shot but it finds the holes.

    He pinches well and hasn’t been caught out of position.

    Is being on the third pairing that makes him look this good?

    • habfan30, he was a 2nd round pick – 38th overall – in 2010 and spent a few seasons with NJ before being selected by Vegas in their expansion draft. After a few more seasons there he hooked on with Detroit as a UFA in 2020 and moved on to the Habs in a trade for Heyden Verbeek and a 5th round pick.

      From what I’ve read on him he’s become an archetypal 5/6 pairing D-man who won’t kill you out there with minimal minutes.

    • George,
      That’s what I had read about the guy, ergo my surprise.

      He appears to be much more than that so far and why I’m calling on Wings fans who have seen him all year to chime in on if I’m seeing his real game or if it’s the bump you get some times after a trade.

      He’s in the lineup to stay if this is his real game.

      • Some d are best sheltered. Ceci looks legit in pburgh. But it’s as a bottom pair

  6. Just to give a little due credit, Carl Gunnarsson is also to be included as a Cup winning, 30 something, low cost UFA d’man.

    Recovering from a season-ending injury—I’m sure the Blues won’t resign and I’m sure the Rangers wouldn’t be interested.

    Greatest success was overtime winning goal during the Cup run, after a pep talk with Berube in the pisser between periods.