More speculation over which players the Oilers should or could pursue this summer, plus a look at what’s in store for the Predators and Hurricanes this off-season.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes the Minnesota Wild can’t afford (for salary cap reasons) to re-sign forward Cal Clutterbuck and believes they’ll trade him, leading Matheson to suggest the Oilers should pursue him…He expects Oilers center Sam Gagner will file for salary arbitration…He believes the Winnipeg Jets will shop defenseman Dustin Byfuglien…He also wondered if the Oilers should pursue pending Blackhawks UFA forwards Bryan Bickell or Viktor Stalberg, considering the latter the better of the two. Matheson also believes the Oilers will try to sign Bruins UFA forward Nathan Horton…He believes the Kings will be moving defenseman Alec Martinez.
Matheson also wondered if the Oilers might move their first round pick (which could be seventh overall) if centers Aleksander Barkov and Sean Monahan is gone. They can’t shop it as part of an offer to the Predators for Shea Weber because he cannot be moved until late-July, if at all. He wonders if they might offer that pick to Boston for Milan Lucic or Philadelphia for either Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn…He also doesn’t believe Ryan Miller would be an upgrade in goal for the Oilers over Devan Dubnyk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have over $55 million invested in 17 players next season, so they could be forced to part ways with Clutterbuck…Wouldn’t be surprised if Gagner files for arbitration…Byfuglien could be dealt, but only if the Jets could get a scoring forward in return…Remains to be seen what moves Oilers new GM Craig MacTavish has in store for the club. Horton’s injury history makes him a risky investment…Weber won’t be traded. Neither will Lucic, and the Flyers aren’t parting with Couturier or Schenn…For those debating if Miller would be a good fit with the Oilers, you’re forgetting one thing: his limited no-trade clause, whereby he lists eight team he want accept being dealt to. He would prefer being closer to his wife, who’s an actress living in Los Angeles.
EDMONTON SUN: Derek van Diest reports Ryan Whitney won’t be re-signing with the Oilers. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Oilers aren’t expected to re-sign him. Whitney also ripped the coaching staff for making him a healthy scratch in the club’s final games. Nikolai Khabibulin also isn’t expected to be re-signed.
THE TENNESSEAN: Josh Cooper recently offered up his take on improving the Nashville Predators, suggesting a bold move to bolster the offense and pursuing ageing defenseman Sergei Gonchar to bolster their offense from the blueline. John Glennon reports Predators defenseman Shea Weber remains committed to the Predators rebuilding process. Weber said GM David Poile assured him the club would make moves this summer to rebound next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been ongoing speculation (see above) Weber could be available this summer, but Poile has stated he intends to build around Weber and goalie Pekka Rinne. As for Gonchar, if the Preds want him they shouldn’t have much trouble signing him, but he certainly wouldn’t be a long-term addition.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Chip Alexander reports Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford acknowledged he’s facing some tough decisions and changes will be made in the off-season. Chad Larose, Dan Ellis, Tim Brent, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Joe Corvo and Bobby Sanguinetti are due to become UFAs and it’s uncertain how many of them will return. Rutherford cited defense as a problem area. ““We put some defensemen in roles they couldn’t handle,” Rutherford said.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Mike Halford recently speculated about which defensemen the Hurricanes could pursue, citing Douglas Murray, Robyn Regehr and Ryan O’Byrne as possible options to add physical depth to their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford won’t blow up the roster or move his core players, but there’s no doubt the blueline is the area he’ll target for improvement in the off-season.