The latest on the Avalanche, a listing of possible offer sheet targets plus updates on Joe Thornton, Ales Hemsky, Johan Franzen, R.J. Umberger & more.
DENVER POST: Mike Chambers lists revamping the blueline, re-signing Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly and improving depth at forward as the Avalanche off-season priorities. Chambers also provides a sampling of defensemen the Avs could pursue, which includes Penguins’ Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. He also notes former Av Kyle Quincey resides in Denver in the off-season and considers him “an excellent addition to any team”. Adrian Dater believes it was risky on the Avs’ part to wait until season’s end to talk contract with Stastny. Dater speculates Stastny could get an offer of $7 million on the open market but doubts the Avs will go that high.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny has said he’s willing to entertain a hometown discount from the Avalanche, but it remains to be seen just how that discount could be. He made $6.6 million per season on his current deal. I don’t think the Avs are keen to bring back Quincey. They could look at Niskanen or Orpik but either one could prove expensive. I expect they’ll consider more affordable options and could also go the trade route if necessary. I expect they’ll try to re-sign O’Reilly before the due date (June 30) to qualify his rights.
ESPN.COM: Matthew Coller lists O’Reilly, Flyers center Brayden Schenn, Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello and Bruins forward Reilly Smith as restricted free agents who could receive offer sheets this summer.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wonders if the Sharks might try to move Joe Thornton, despite his no-trade clause. He also expects they’ll buy out the final season of Martin Havlat’s contract…He expects the Sharks, Avalanche, Capitals and Red Wings could pursue Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen if he tests this summer’s UFA market…With former Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving now Flames GM, Matheson can see ex-Coyotes Vernon Fiddler signing with the Flames this summer…He expects the Coyotes could pursue Ales Hemsky via free agency…The Red Wings won’t buy out Johan Franzen but Matheson speculates they could try to trade him for a top-four defenseman…He believes Blue Jackets’ forward R.J. Umberger could be available but with three years at $4.6 million per they’ll have to pick up part of his salary in order to move him…Matheson also reports 42-year-old Ray Whitney could be coming to the end of his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton’s not going anywhere, but I can see the Sharks using a compliance buyout on Havlat…Niskanen will certainly attract a lot of interest if he become available via free agency…I don’t think the Flames want to in ageing veterans like Fiddler, preferring younger players…Hemsky’s fate could be determined by what the Senators do with Jason Spezza before July 1…The Wings and Blue Jackets would certainly have to pick up part of the respective contracts of Franzen and Umberger if they wish to trade them…It was obvious watching Whitney this season that age has finally caught up with him. I doubt he gets a contract offer.