NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2016
Potential trade targets for the Los Angeles Kings plus the latest Anaheim Ducks speculation in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox lists seven goalies the Los Angeles Kings could target in a trade to bolster their injury-ravaged goaltending. They are Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets, Jonathan Bernier of the Anaheim Ducks, Reto Berra of the Florida Panthers, Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth of the Philadelphia Flyers, Mike Condon of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Thomas Greiss of the New York Islanders.
Fox notes Pavelec’s $3.9 million cap hit and the possible reluctance of Jets management to part with him are potential stumbling blocks. Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford is fond of Bernier and the Ducks do need to shed salary, but trades between bitter rivals rarely take place. Berra carries a cap-friendly $1.45 million cap hit. Like Pavelec, he is currently buried in the minors.
Mason’s name appears more in trade chatter than Neuvirth’s because of his $4.1 million cap hit, but neither have better stats than the Kings call-up Peter Budaj. Condon carries a very affordable $575K cap hit and is eight years younger than Budaj. Fox doesn’t believe the Kings will target Pens veteran starter Marc-Andre Fleury, in part because of their long-term commitment to sidelined starter Jonathan Quick. Greiss and J-F Berube are on expiring contracts and Fox guesses the Isles prefer to keep the younger Berube.
PHILLY.COM’S Sam Carchidi, replying to a reader’s question on if the Flyers might trade a goalie to the Kings, named Neuvirth if the price was right. However, he also points out Flyers GM Ron Hextall likes having two strong goaltenders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets apparently aren’t fully sold on their young goalie tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, preferring to retain Pavelec as insurance. Bernier’s cap hit is $4.15 million and Mason’s $4.1 million. The Kings lack the cap space to take on either salary unless the Ducks or Flyers are willing to pick up a significant chunk. Neuvirth is more affordable, but the Flyers probably wish to retain him. With both clubs also squeezed for cap space, I don’t see that happening. Greiss, Berra and Condon are much more affordable, but are they really worthwhile options? If the Kings struggle with their current netminders, they might not have much choice.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports trades rumors continue to swirl around the Anaheim Ducks as they attempt to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm. While observing the Ducks freed up some valuable cap space to re-sign Lindholm by placing concussed defenseman Simon Despres on LTIR ($3.75 million AAV), Fox notes that’s only temporary as they’ll have to free up cap room when Despres is ready to return to action.
Fox also cites speculation suggesting the Ducks could instead trade Lindholm for a good young defenseman if there’s no end in sight for this contract stalemate. Ducks GM Bob Murray reportedly dismissed that rumors. Lindholm’s agent, Claude Lemieux, said both sides remain motivated toward getting a new deal in place.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was only a matter of time until speculation about trading Lindholm, rather than Cam Fowler, bubbled to the surface. While I don’t dismiss that possibility, my guess is the Ducks management intend to re-sign him and deal with the possible cap problems of Despres’ return later in the season. At some point, they’ll have to shed a significant salary if they intend to retain Lindholm. Fowler ($4 million annual cap hit) remains the likely trade candidate.