An update on Jason Spezza, the Canucks interest in Ryan Miller, the Oilers linked to Olli Jokinen and Mark Fayne, lists of proposed UFA targets for the Flames and Jets, and the latest on the Maple Leafs.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars remain “very much interested” in Jason Spezza. GM Bryan Murray will have to wait for the dust to settle following the free agent frenzy to determine what trade market there is for Spezza. Garrioch also reports the Senators will try to re-sign Milan Michalek and could take a run at Benoit Pouliot or Jussi Jokinen.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks could turn to free agency to address their need for a second-line center, as trading for Jason Spezza was “tantalizing but ultimately infeasible.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks simply lack the cap space to acquire Spezza without shedding considerable cap space ($7 million) first. While it’s still possible, such a move could prove very difficult. I think we can take the ‘Hawks out of the bidding now. As for the Blues and Stars, it’ll depend on if they can find a suitable second-line center via free agency.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma wonders if the Canucks are better served sticking with their current goaltenders for next season or is management facing so much pressure to be playing past mid-April that a veteran goalie must be acquired. He notes the club’s interest in Ryan Miller but points out the veteran’s numbers are trending in the wrong direction, plus there’s also the pressure he’ll face in Vancouver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as they don’t commit to an expensive long-term deal for Miller or Jonas Hiller, I see nothing wrong with giving either of them a shot on a reasonable two-year deal. Both will be motivated to prove their critics wrong.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe believes Johnny Boychuk, Michael Grabner or Tomas Kopecky could be among the Jets trade targets this summer.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi notes the Flyers lack of cap flexibility makes it difficult for them to make significant acquisitions this summer. He claims the Jets like Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and the Flyers like winger Evander Kane, but the Flyers would have to include another player or a draft pick in the return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what moves Ron Hextall makes. He’s already pulled off one surprising move (Umberger for Hartnell) and could have something else up his sleeve. Whether it involves the Jets and Kane remains to be seen.
TORONTO SUN: Rob Longley reports Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan faces the test of trying to woo free agent talent to the Maple Leafs. He was unsuccessful in his efforts to convince Montreal’s Josh Gorges to accept a trade to Toronto. The Leafs have $23 million in cap space. Longley also reports just because James Reimer wants a trade doesn’t mean he’ll get it, as this summer’s market for goalies is a soft one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out soon enough how much sway Shanahan has among this summer’s NHL free-agent class.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis believes the Oilers should pursue Mikhail Grabovski, David Staples cites a TSN report claiming the Oilers “kicked the tires” on Olli Jokinen, while Bruce McCurdy notes a TSN report claiming the Oilers have interest in Mark Fayne and Deryk Engelland.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of these I think Grabovski would be the best fit for the Oilers, provided they can sign him.
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson lists Brett Bellemore, Chad Johnson, Leo Komarov, Matt Niskanen and Radim Vrbata as his top-five free agent targets for the Flames to pursue.