NHL Rumor Mill – July 12, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – July 12, 2017

Trading Matt Duchene could be the Avalanche’s best bet to land a quality defenseman.

Updates on the Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals in your NHL rumor mill. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton examines the sad state of the Colorado Avalanche defense. They currently have only three seasoned NHL blueliners in Erik Johnson (575 games), Tyson Barrie (338) and Mark Barberio (193) under contract for 2017-18. Promising Nikita Zadorov could head for the KHL if he and the Avs fail to reach agreement on a new contract.

Clinton observes the best option for bolstering the defense is trading center Matt Duchene. While the Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins have assets to help the Avs and were linked to Duchene in trade rumors, nothing’s come of it so far. 

Free agent options include Brian Campbell, Johnny Oduya, Dennis Wideman and Roman Polak. Clinton suggests Cody Franson is the most intriguing, as he has offensive skills, can play second-pairing minutes and can run a power play. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as general manager Joe Sakic keeps the asking price high for Duchene (young, established top-four NHL defenseman, first-round pick, top prospect and maybe more), interested clubs will be reluctant to deal with him. The Avs have over $12 million in cap space and could easily afford any of those rearguards listed by Clinton on affordable one-year deals. That could depend, of course, on whether Sakic can find someone willing to pony up for Duchene. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports on the sticky contract negotiations between the Red Wings and restricted free agent winger Tomas Tatar, who has an arbitration hearing slated for July 20. She suggests the Wings could be better off signing Tatar to a one-year deal, evaluate his performance in 2017-18 and attempt to re-sign him to a long-term deal. If Tatar rejects that option, she recommends dealing him at the trade deadline for picks and/or prospects. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar recently hinted that he could be playing his final season with the Wings if he ends up getting a one-year contract via arbitration. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out leading up to July 20. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC: Washington Capitals correspondents Jill Sorenson, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir believe the club should avoid the trade market to address their roster needs. Sorenson believes they should give their younger players a shot. If a need for a trade arises it might be best to wait until the trade deadline to make a move. El-Bashir and Regan agree, noting the Caps lack the depth in assets to spare. If a trade for a defenseman becomes necessary, Regan suggests waiting until a rival club to have issues in goal and perhaps shop backup Philipp Grubauer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer’s name surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to the expansion draft but that chatter has since died off. With only around $4 million in salary-cap space, there’s not much wiggle room to bring in a quality blueliner via free agency.