Several Western Conference clubs will face some serious off-season questions. Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon wondered if the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks might shop a defenseman like Josh Manson or Cam Fowler.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they do, it could be for a young scoring forward. Manson would be the easiest to move. He has a 12-team no-trade list, while Fowler has a four-team trade list.
Dixon expects Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka to continue pursuing a goal scorer, but wondered what’s the next solution? Phil Kessel turned into a disappointment, and they saw marginal improvement when Taylor Hall was acquired in December.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they shop more futures? They already traded away their 2020 first-rounder. Do they offer up promising defenseman Jakob Chycrhun despite his long injury history? Chayka’s going to have to get creative.
Could the Calgary Flames shop Johnny Gaudreau this off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)
Dixon mused about the possibility of the Calgary Flames shopping Johnny Gaudreau.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but I don’t see this happening. Gaudreau’s numbers were down this season, but the 26-year-old winger is only a year removed from a career-high 99-point performance. Unless Flames GM Brad Treliving is going to rebuild the roster (and I don’t believe that’s his intention), It doesn’t make any sense to trade his best scorer because of one bad year.
The Chicago Blackhawks need goaltenders next season. Even if they re-sign 35-year-old Corey Crawford, Dixon thinks they must add another quality goalie who can play 40 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If, as expected, Crawford is re-signed for another year or two, they could find several good options in this summer’s UFA market. Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss could be available.
Dixon asked if the Colorado Avalanche have Taylor Hall‘s phone number when he hits the open market in the off-season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He feels Hall would be a great addition on the Avs’s second line. I agree, but signing Hall will be an expensive undertaking. The Avalanche could easily afford him this year, but he would become their highest-paid player. Assuming they could get him for $8 million annually, that’s too much to invest in a second-line player, especially when Gabriel Landeskog and rising star Cale Makar will be in line for big raises next year.
Dixon wondered where the Dallas Stars will find some young forwards. It could cost them futures to land a scorer in his prime.
He’s also curious how much it’ll cost the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins before he becomes a UFA next summer. He also expects them to shop around for a goalie, as it may be asking too much to bank on 38-year-old Mike Smith.
Can the Los Angeles Kings trade Jeff Carter or Dustin Brown?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless they absorb half their salary or take on a toxic contract in return, the answer is no. Both are 35 and carrying annual salary-cap hits exceeding $5 million annually through 2021-22.
Does it make sense for the Minnesota Wild to trade defenseman Matt Dumba?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, it doesn’t. Dumba is 25 and signed through 2022-23. This was a down season stats-wise, but he was also coming off a serious pectoral muscle injury last season. Sometimes it takes time to fully recover from that type of injury. GM Bill Guerin could keep an open ear for reasonable trade offers, but I think he’ll hang onto Dumba.
Can the San Jose Sharks find a starting goalie? Dixon advocates pursuing a UFA netminder like Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, or Robin Lehner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good idea, but the Sharks have over $66 million invested in 13 players, with $5.75 million annually being paid to current starting goalie Martin Jones, who has a three-team trade list. Unless they can find a way to move out Jones or slash another salary, they could be forced to consider more affordable short-term options.
Will Alex Pietrangelo re-sign with the St. Louis Blues?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe he will, but the Blues will have to shed some salary to accommodate his raise to between $8 million and $9 million annually.
Can the Vancouver Canucks keep Jacob Markstrom?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, but like the Blues, they’ll have to shed a salary to fit in his new contract. Maybe this is the year they find a taker for Loui Eriksson or buy out the remainder of his contract.
Is Robin Lehner the Vegas Golden Knights’ long-term goalie?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Lehner is younger than starter Marc-Andre Fleury, put up better numbers over the last two seasons, and is in his playing prime. On the other hand, Fleury is a proven performer and remains the face of the Golden Knights. Had Lehner come in and took over the starter’s job from Fleury over the remainder of this season, perhaps he could make the case as their long-term goalie. Re-signing him would force the cap-strapped Golden Knights to dump a salary or two.
Dixon wondered if the Winnipeg Jets might move a forward to bolster their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule it out, but the anticipated termination of Dustin Byfuglien’s contract ($7.6 million AAV) could provide sufficient wiggle room to find more affordable depth options for next season.