NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2022
What will the Capitals do with their goaltending this summer? Are the Sharks open to trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns? Will the Blackhawks seek improvement between the pipes? Who could the Red Wings target via free agency? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL THE CAPITALS LOOK TO IMPROVE THEIR GOALTENDING?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski considers the Washington Capitals goaltending an interesting situation worth monitoring during the offseason. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov are both restricted free agents. Vanecek had a solid regular season but fared poorly in the playoffs while Samsonov was the opposite.
Wyshynski wondered if the Capitals will seek an upgrade between the pipes. If they decide to keep their tandem intact, for how much and for how long? He also believes their blueline needs improvement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals need a reliable starter. There are only four suitable options via this summer’s unrestricted free agent market and one of them (Marc-Andre Fleury) apparently isn’t interested in playing for them. Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper, Toronto’s Jack Campbell and St. Louis’ Ville Husso could be available but will be expensive to sign. The Capitals would face competition from other clubs for those goaltenders should they test the open market on July 13.
General manager Brian MacLellan could try the trade market by looking at netminders such as Anaheim’s John Gibson, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Vegas’ Robin Lehner and the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov. Acquiring either of them, however, won’t be easy and will cost assets as well as salary.
Limited salary-cap space will also impede the pursuit of a goalie upgrade or the addition of a quality defenseman. Cap Friendly shows the Capitals with $73.5 million invested in 17 active players for 2022-23 with Vanecek and Samsonov as their key free agents. MacLellan might have to shed a contract or two to find sufficient cap space to address those needs.
THE SHARKS COULD BE OPEN TO TRADING KARLSSON OR BURNS THIS SUMMER
THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka reports San Jose Sharks interim general manager Joe Will indicated he has no problem talking to other clubs about trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns this summer. Both players recently surfaced in the rumor mill after the Sharks missed the playoffs last month.
Will said nothing was off-limits in terms of looking at ways to improve the roster wherever they could. However, he added that would be a decision left to whoever becomes the club’s general manager. He stated no changes are imminent but they’re open to discussion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Will is talking about a hypothetical trade scenario involving Karlsson or Burns rather than something that will actually take place. He or his successor are making it known they’re open to offers for their high-end talent but that doesn’t mean they’re actively shopping those players.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharks management quietly gauged the market for Karlsson or Burns. However, Karlsson’s injury history, the 37-year-old Burns’ age, and their respective hefty contracts and no-trade clauses make moving either defenseman a difficult task in an offseason where the salary cap is rising by only $1 million for 2022-23.
LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus recently reported goaltending is the biggest issue facing the Chicago Blackhawks this summer. Current netminders Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are slated to become UFAs this summer.
GM Kyle Davidson said Lankinen and Delia are part of the conversation but there are players in this summer’s free-agent market the Blackhawks will be looking at. He also didn’t rule out a foray into the trade market. A source claims the club hasn’t started contract discussions yet with Lankinen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Blackhawks could keep Lankinen or Delia as a backup as they pursue a reliable starter via free agency or a trade. Many of the options I listed for the Capitals could also apply here.
Davidson has $61.4 million committed to 14 players with Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach, Caleb Jones and Philipp Kurashev slated to become restricted free agents. There is sufficient room to add a decent starter provided those RFAs can be inked to affordable deals. Strome or Kubalik could be traded or allowed to depart as UFAs.
WHO COULD THE RED WINGS TARGET VIA FREE AGENCY?
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen recently published a list of forwards who might interest Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman in this summer’s UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck and Paul should be available this summer but it remains to be seen if they want to sign with a rebuilding club. Copp, however, could be off the market as the Rangers are quite keen to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings’ plentiful cap space means they could afford to pay Forsberg a big raise. Like Trocheck and Paul, he might not prefer joining a rebuilding team.
Strome’s situation with the Rangers could go either way. Yzerman drafted Palat when he was GM of the Lightning so the latter might be willing to consider a reunion.