Latest on Eric Staal, Martin Brodeur, Dave Bolland, Olli Jokinen, Evgeni Nabokov and more.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports it could be weeks until the fate of beleaguered Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is decided. Simmons believes GM Dave Nonis is monitoring the coaching market for a possible replacement. He also touched on the decisions facing Nonis regarding pending UFAs Dave Bolland (believed seeking an eight-year, $40 million deal), Nikolai Kulemin (Simmons believes he still has value but for less than his current salary) and Jay McClement. He also believes goalie James Reimer will ask to be traded, though his value isn’t as high as it was a year ago.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s how it goes: Carlyle must be replaced with a coach who can implement a system which works to the advantage of a Leafs team built for speed, not truculent physical play. The Leafs were a lousy puck possession team (among the worst in the league) and that must be addressed in part by replacing Bolland, Kulemin and McClement with best puck possession players. Reimer won’t attract as solid a return as he could’ve a year ago, but he has no future in Toronto. Get the best return you can and look to bolster your depth via other means. Don’t freak out if the best they can get is a draft pick or prospect, Leafs fans.
And please, don’t get into stupid, pointless trade suggestions which wouldn’t even fly on NHL ’14, okay? Except for Kadri and Gardiner, most of the Leafs trade bait simply isn’t that valuable. Those players who could fetch a decent return won’t land you a superstar. That’s dreaming in technicolor. And no, Kessel and Phaneuf won’t be moved. Get over that fever dream right now. Ain’t gonna happen. Kessel is their best player. You don’t move him, you build around him. Phaneuf’s struggles this season means the Leafs would have to take back a bad contract or absorb half his remaining contract in order to move him. That’s no solution. Try instead to find a better defensive partner for Phaneuf to offset his defensive miscues.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Luke DeCock mused on the possible off-season moves of the Carolina Hurricanes, which includes Jim Rutherford stepping down as GM and the possibility head coach Kirk Muller is fired. DeCock also wondered if Cam Ward and Eric Staal could be moved this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford will step down and Muller will likely be fired. They’ll push hard to trade Ward, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they go the compliance buyout route if there’s no takers via trade. I don’t believe they’ll trade Staal.
NJ.COM: Rich Chere reports Martin Brodeur gives another broad hint he won’t return with the Devils next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Brodeur should retire, but he’s obviously going to do what he believes is in his best interests. If he wants to keep playing, it won’t be with the Devils. The Brodeur era is over, it’s now Cory Schneider’s team.
WINNIPEG SUN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Ken Wiebe and Gary Lawless reports Jets center Olli Jokinen would like to return with the club. Both advocate re-signing him if he’ll accept an affordable one-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. At 35, Jokinen is a risky multi-year investment.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: David Hyde summarizes another lost season for the Florida Panthers. Despite having over $30 million to spend for next season and ownership’s willingness to spend toward the cap ceiling if required, Hyde wonders why a free agent would want to sign with the moribund Panthers. GM Dale Tallon points to their recent acquisition of Roberto Luongo as an indication they mean business with their rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers will attract veterans seeking a fate contract and a quiet, warm place to play. Such players should be avoided at all costs. It’s not enough to simply invest in free agents, they must find ones who will help them become a playoff contender.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple recently reported sources for the Islanders and goalie Evgeni Nabokov claimed negotiations for a one-year contract won’t begin until the off-season. The Islanders would like to bring Nabokov back next season in a backup role.