Will the Tampa Bay Lightning keep or trade goaltender Ben Bishop?
Updates on Ben Bishop, Dennis Wideman and Curtis Lazar plus the latest on the Red Wings, Sharks and Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: With the Lightning fighting to reach the playoffs and goaltender Ben Bishop playing his best hockey of the season, Joe Smith wonders if they should trade Bishop with his trade value now improved or keep him and hope they can ride him to a postseason berth. If they retain him, they risk losing him to free agency for nothing in July.
The Dallas Stars were once suggested as a trade partner but they’ve fallen out of playoff contention and need to move one of their own goalies. Smith noted the Calgary Flames nearly had a deal in place for Bishop last June and they had a scout at a recent Lightning game. However, he also said things are quiet on the Bishop trade front.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning GM Steve Yzerman isn’t going to just give Bishop away. If there’s a suitable return to be had, he’ll move him. If not, he’ll keep Bishop and hope he can at least salvage this season by backstopping them into the playoffs.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis reports Flames GM Brad Treliving said “he didn’t want to get into any of that” when asked if he approached defenseman Dennis Wideman about waiving his no-movement clause. While Wideman’s in the final season of his contract, his $5.25 million cap hit means there probably won’t be any takers for his services. With the acquisition of Michael Stone and the recent signing of Matt Bartkowski, Wideman’s now the odd man out on the Flames blueline.
Francis also doubts Treliving will make any significant moves leading up to the trade deadline. While the Flames were linked to Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop and Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, Francis believes the high asking prices for either guy is too expensive for Treliving’s taste.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames will probably have to pick up part of Wideman’s cap hit to move him. Even then, there likely won’t be many takers. I see him finishing this season in Calgary.
CSN BAY AREA: Kevin Kurz wonders what moves San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson has in mind leading up to the trade deadline. Two areas that make sense are a backup goaltender and a scoring winger. Kurz speculates the Sharks could stick with current backup Aaron Dell, who’s earned glowing reviews from Sharks coach Pete DeBoer.
Finding a scoring winger for the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line should be the priority. Kurz lists “Dallas’ Patrick Sharp or Patrick Eaves, Arizona’s Shane Doan, Colorado’s Jarome Iginla, Detroit’s Thomas Vanek, or even Vancouver’s Alex Burrows or Jannik Hansen” as possible options. Sharp could be an intriguing option, given his role in helping the Chicago Blackhawks win three Stanley Cups. His $5.9 million cap hit, however, could require some juggling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I was Wilson, I’d target Eaves, Vanik or Hansen. Sharp might also be worthwhile for the right price. I’d pass on Doan, Iginla and Burrows who are well past their prime. As for their backup, Dell’s getting the job done. If DeBoer is confident in him, there’s no reason to seek an upgrade.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports it sounds like Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion could move young forward Curtis Lazar if he got a good return, but the Sens front office are reluctant to give up on him. Dreger feels a trade at the deadline at this point seems like a long shot. Dreger also notes Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is willing to open his wallet if Dorion can make a move to help his team, but they’re unwilling to overpay for top assets for a top-six winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch said pretty much the same thing about Lazar. If the Sens could get a solid return, Dorion could consider it, but he’d prefer not to give up on the promising young forward. As both indicate, a Lazar trade doesn’t seem likely at this point. Maybe in the offseason if they get a good offer.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports the Detroit Red Wings received some calls about young forward Andreas Athanasiou when there were some battles over his ice time. While Wings GM Ken Holland won’t comment, Friedman cites a source saying Holland told them not to ask unless the offer was a “22-year-old top-pair defenseman.” While the Wings are open for business, they won’t move any of their cornerstone young players unless they get that type of return. They’ll also discuss re-signing defenseman Brendan Smith before making a decision on trading him.
MLIVE.COM: Brendan Savage expects the Detroit Red Wings to start shedding some assets soon, noting GM Ken Holland has said he would do so if his club’s playoff hopes were dim near the trade deadline. The top trade candidates are pending UFAs such as Tomas Vanek, Steve Ott and Brendan Smith. Defenseman Mike Green is another possibility. He has only a year left on his contract, but his $6 million salary could scare off potential suitors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t expect the Wings will get an offer of a young top-pairing defenseman for one of their promising young forwards at the trade deadline. Maybe they’ll get one in the offseason from the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes or Minnesota Wild, as those clubs have lots of good young blueliners and they can’t protect them all in the expansion draft. Unless the Wings are willing to pick up a good chunk of Green’s cap hit, he’s not going anywhere. Vanek, Ott and Smith are likely goners.
SPORTSNET: Friedman also reports Dallas Stars winger Patrick Eaves would be a perfect fit to re-sign but apparently there’s been no talks on that subject. Eaves could be on the move by the trade deadeline.
There was talk earlier this season the Florida Panthers had interest in Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault. While Panthers GM Dale Tallon seeks help for his power play, Friedman believes Perreault’s four-year contract likely makes it impossible for the Panthers to pursue him now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Tallon goes shopping for someone to boost his power play it’ll likely be for a rental player. Don’t see him making a significant move for a player with term remaining on his contract, especially with the expansion draft coming in June.
Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins had interest in defenseman Michael Stone prior to his being dealt by the Arizona Coyotes to the Calgary Flames. He thinks Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Ron Hainsey could be a good fit with the Pens.
Speaking of the Flames, Friedman thinks GM Brad Treliving seeks a winger with an edge to his game and suspects he could be looking around for a goaltender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos recently claimed the Flames revisited their interest in Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. However, it sounds like Pens GM Jim Rutherford intends to keep the veteran around as insurance over the remainder of this season.
Friedman thinks there are a couple of teams with interest in either Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche but they don’t believe they can complete this trade and still compete for a Stanley Cup because of the high asking price set by the Avs. The Anaheim Ducks have the assets to meet that price but GM Bob Murray has indicated he might wait until the offseason to make decisions about his blueline. Friedman also said it looks like the Avs would like to move Mikhail Grigorenko.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jason Gregor reports the question of whether the Oilers need an experienced backup is a hot topic right now. However, there aren’t many palatable options available. Arizona’s Louis Domingue (.895 SP) and Carolina’s Eddie Lack (.836) aren’t an improvement, Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop is too expensive and Gregor doubts the Oilers will bring back Anders Nilsson from Buffalo. Gregor said he wouldn’t be interested in the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak or Anaheim’s Jhonas Enroth. New Jersey’s Keith Kincaid might be a good option, with 48 starts and a .910 save percentage, as would Philadelphia’s Michal Neuvirth.