NHL Rumor Mill – May 30, 2022
More speculation over the Blues’ offseason plan, the Canadiens’ Christian Dvorak could be a trade candidate and the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MORE SPECULATION OVER POTENTIAL BLUES MOVES
STLTODAY.COM: Ben Frederickson reports it’s been whispered Vladimir Tarasenko has decided he wants to remain with the St. Louis Blues after last summer’s drama following his trade request led to a solid bounce-back season for the 30-year-old winger. He believes Tarasenko and the Blues belong together and hopes the winger and general manager Doug Armstrong agree.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong had difficulty finding a suitable trade partner last summer for Tarasenko, who’d been hampered by shoulder injuries the previous two years. His team-leading, career-best 82-point performance this season should considerably improve his trade value if he still wants out.
Tarasenko has one season remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million but with an actual salary of $5.5 million, which could also make him enticing in the trade market. He also carries a full no-trade clause, giving him control over potential destinations.
Armstrong could hang onto Tarasenko for another run at the Stanley Cup next season. Given the winger’s UFA status next summer, however, he could quietly revisit his trade conversations from last summer if Tarasenko’s future in St. Louis remains uncertain.
Frederickson suggests the Blues thank goaltender Ville Husso for his service during the regular season and allow him to depart via free agency. With limited salary-cap space and Jordan Binnington having salvaged his season with a strong playoff performance, it may be time for Charlie Lindgren to sink or swim as his backup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frederickson’s colleague Jim Thomas disagrees, believing the Blues should prioritize re-signing Husso given their lack of a clear-cut replacement within their organization. He noted the 27-year-old saved the Blues season when Binnington was floundering. The club has also invested a lot of time in his development. We’ll find out by July 13 which way Armstrong goes with his goaltending.
Regarding pending UFA David Perron, Frederickson believes the Blues should do all they can to keep him in the fold. He also recommended shopping forward Ivan Barbashev while the 60-point winger’s value is high if it’ll free up cap room given their depth up front.
Shipping out Tarasenko would clear considerable cap room to retain most of their key free agents and perhaps bolster their defense corps. Moving Barbashev would help if they keep Tarasenko but there won’t be much for other additions unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap for another player.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited a source saying Christian Dvorak’s name is out there in the trade market. He isn’t saying the Canadiens will trade the 26-year-old center but it sounds like teams are making inquiries.
It’s also no secret Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry is also being shopped and has been since requesting a trade during the regular season. If Petry and his $6.25 million annual cap hit gets moved this summer, Murphy wonders if GM Ken Hughes will attempt to do the same with Dvorak and his $4.4 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend upon whether the Canadiens can divest themselves of the remainder of the permanently-sidelined Shea Weber’s contract. There were reports claiming they were close to moving it to the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline but it fell through because of the delay in sorting out the insurance issues.
Recent speculation suggests Hughes and the Coyotes could revisit that deal. If so, there might not be as much pressure to shed Dvorak’s contract, especially if Petry gets moved.
SHOULD THE PENGUINS BLOW UP THEIR BLUELINE TO RE-SIGN LETANG?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the Penguins’ objective shouldn’t be finding a way to replace Kris Letang. Instead, they should re-sign the pending UFA defenseman but replace others on the blueline corps.
Kingerski believes the Penguins can’t afford to lose Letang’s offense considering the lack of production among their other defensemen. He recommended retaining Mike Matheson following his bounce-back performance this season and the affordable Mark Friedman. He called on management to shop blueliners such as Marcus Pettersson and John Marino and use the cap savings to improve the defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion but Penguins management might not see it that way. Then again, there has been speculation linking Marino to the Vancouver Canucks, so maybe they can shed him and perhaps Pettersson and find suitable replacements via trade or free agency.