NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2017

Could the Vegas Golden Knights target a notable UFA such as T.J. Oshie this summer?

Updates on the Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings plus speculation about Justin Schultz in your NHL rumor mill. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton recently speculated over possible free-agent targets for the Vegas Golden Knights. Noting Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is unafraid to spend to add players to his inaugural roster, Clinton listed Arizona Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Cody Franson, Boston Bruins goalie Malcolm Subban (a restricted free agent), LA Kings goalie Ben Bishop or Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk or Karl Alzner or winger T.J. Oshie as possible unrestricted free agent targets for Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If money’s no object, perhaps Foley and general manager George McPhee could convince one or two of those UFAs to join the Golden Knights. It won’t be easy for them.

I think Vrbata’s keen to stay with the Coyotes. Bishop will likely try to join a contender. Shattenkirk could be pursued by the New York Rangers or Boston Bruins, while Alzner could be targeted by the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think the Caps hope to re-sign Oshie. Failing that, I think he’ll also prefer signing with a contender. The Knights could have an easier time inking Franson or Subban. The latter, as noted in the comments section below (stick tap to Caper), is an RFA, so the Knights can simply select him in the expansion draft if they really want him. 

MLIVE.COM: During a recent mailbag segment, Ansar Khan was asked if the Detroit Red Wings might expose “a couple of albatross contracts”, such as Danny DeKeyser, Justin Abdelkader or Darren Helm, in the expansion draft. Of the three, Khan doubts the Wings expose DeKesyer, believes Abdelkader’s physical style still makes him valuable to the Wings and expects Helm will be left unprotected. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Khan’s take. Even if Helm’s exposed, however, his contract ($3.85 million annually through 2020-21 with a no-trade clause) could be unpalatable to the Golden Knights even with their aforementioned willingness to spend. They’d also likely balk at Abdelkader’s $4.25 million cap hit through 2022-23. I don’t see the Wings taking a chance on the Knights passing over DeKeyser. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently noted there’s a belief the New Jersey Devils, in need of offense from their blueline, might throw a lot of money this summer at UFA defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He also wondered if someone like Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Justin Schultz might also be a target. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Devils target Schultz, it’ll have to be via offer sheet. Schultz is a restricted free agent with arbitration right this summer. While Schultz was an unrestricted free agent when he re-signed with the Pens last summer to a one-year, $1.4 million deal, he will be a restricted free agent this summer because he was under the age requirement for UFA status again.