Latest on the Rangers, Stars, Wild and Blues.

Do the Rangers need to bolster their defense?…Stars at a crossroads…Could the Wild shop Marek Zidlicky?…Brian Elliott’s new contract could make Blues number three goalie Ben Bishop expendable.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the recent near-injury of defenseman Ryan McDonagh should spur Rangers management to seek more blueline depth for the remainder of the season, particularly one head coach John Tortorella could trust to log major minutes. Brooks suggests Carolina’s Tim Gleason, Dallas’ Sheldon Souray and Nashville’s Ryan Suter as possible options if the Rangers decide to go that route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks is only making his own suggestions here, not saying the Rangers are definitely pursuing those guys. It’s been rumored the Blueshirts would consider adding another scoring winger, but Brooks makes a good point about ensuring sufficient depth among the top four on the Rangers blueline. Whatever management does will ultimately be determined by the club’s overall health, and where they are in the standings by the end of next month. For now, there’s no need to rush out and make a move.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika wonders if the Stars are good enough to consider themselves playoff contenders this season. While the club has struggled after a strong start to the season, Heika doubts management will start shopping players now, as it would send the wrong message that they’re giving up on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever GM Joe Nieuwendyk does will be determined by the Stars performance over the next four weeks.

Could the Wild shop Zidlicky?

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild made defenseman Marek Zidlicky a health scratch for the first time since he joined the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s rumored the Wild could shop a defenseman in hopes of landing a scoring forward. This move could make Zidlicky considered “trade bait”, but he’s still got one year at $4 million remaining on his contract, with a modified “NTC”, plus his performance this season might not make him attractive on the trade market.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeremy Rutherford reports Brian Elliott’s new contract spells bad news for number three defenseman goaltender Ben Bishop, who is eligible for Group VI UFA status this summer, which could result in the Blues shopping him, rather than risk losing him to free agency.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Damien Cristodero recently cited Bishop as perhaps an option for the Lightning to pursue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Yzerman might be more interested in landing a goalie with NHL experience, but it might not be a bad idea to consider adding Bishop as a potential backup.

17 Comments

  1. With Sauer and Eminger reportedly being just a few weeks away from returning, the Rangers’ defense depth should be fine. What they need is another 20-30 goal scorer.

  2. Love reading this every morning with my tea. :)

    *number three goaltender*

    Great work sir !

  3. Hey Lyle, how are you? Last time I mailed to you was about 10 years or so ago. I had the handle “Veteran” on the Leafs forum on the old HockeyBoards.com that became FanHome. Long time ago. I hangout on TML-DieHards through Facebook now, alot of homers there….lol. I have 2 quick questions. 1. Do you think Burke should go after Ben Bishop? 2. Do you think he’ll make a move to get a power forward and who do you see leaving, or will he sit on his hands. That about sums it up. Take care and keep up the great work! TTYL.

  4. FYI, Ben Bishop is a goalie, not a defenseman. And yes, I think he will be traded. He has no chance at making that roster – besides, Hitchcock has always been about relying more on veterans then youngsters.

  5. I don’t think the rumors of Josh Harding (Wild) to Tampa Bay should slow down any. Heck, throw in Zidlicky and the Wild can have that extra bag of pucks laying around.

  6. Staal missed 35 games and the Rangers are still leading their division, in a dogfight with the Bruins for the conference and league lead. So I don’t know why Brooks thinks the Rangers lack depth at defense. Gleason would probably be an upgrade over Bickell, but he’s only about half as tough. Carolina’s going to want picks and prospects to go along with someone a little better than Wolski. Not exactly tantalizing considering there’s 8 NHL defensemen on the roster.

  7. Heika clearly engages in rhetoric with the “sending the wrong message in the locker room” bit, which isn’t worth its weight in pickled herring. There can be no more negative a feeling than losing like they way they have done so to the Wild, Columbus, Anaheim, TB, etc. etc. and none greater than succumbing to the same mediocrity of 3 seasons past. The Stars don’t have the assets to buy the upgrades that can significantly help the team make the playoffs, and the schedule beyond the ASB gets even tougher. So, if management gets caught up in such lame rhetoric of “sending the wrong message” and don’t sell those who will turn UFA (only to let them go for nothing in the off-season) or are currently sleepwalking, at the deadline, then they’d better prepare for more such seasons in the future. That would really portend well for the franchise, would it not?

  8. Not sure what sort of return Bishop would get for St Louis or if other teams even see him as a #1 for next season. Bishop has promise but is not exactly lighting it up this season in the minors and for the teams that would be actively looking for goaltenders in the off-season (TB, CLS, NJ, etc) they’d have to be looking for a more bonafide starter or potential starter than Bishop.

  9. Hi, Dan: I don’t believe Burke has interest in Bishop. He’s also hinted he wants to add more size and playoff experience to his scoring lines, but to do so might cost him a young player or two, like Schenn or Franson, and perhaps Kadri. No idea who he has in mind, but I daresay we’ll find out soon enough.

  10. if Toronto is going to add a goalie it should be A more experienced goalie ( playoff experience would be a definite bonus if Khabibulin did not have another year left on contrat he’d be an option, Niittymaki perhaps ? ) and if they are after a power forward Malone( TBay ) fits the need although a bit pricey ( unless they dump some salary on the way back ) . Umberger same thing , but he is injured right now and has a fat contract . They’d have to pay a steep price but Dubinsky ( Rangers ) would be a very nice fit in TO. Keeping in mind Burkes fondness of US players.

  11. If the Leafs were to pursue a player from NY, I hope it would be Boyle. Slats probably won’t trade him, and fans would probably not want to see him go, but he does fit what Burke wants. Fantasy deal of the day, Boyle for Franson. I think both sides would be happy IF the Rangers were looking for another Dman.

  12. Franson is just a young guy, I think it would be foolish to move him. If you have been watching the leafs this year he has improved every week since being a healthy scratch to start the season. I would move Gunnarsson if I were to move anybody. Sure he has defensive abilities and some offensive up side but personally I don’t think he has played as well as some say. He has made some glaring mistakes that have cost them games this year and he isn’t as physical as he should be. I’m betting he part of a package going to either the flyers or the ducks.

  13. James I agree. I would rather move Gunner too for the exact reasons you listed. Neither are terrible, but I think Franson has more upside. I can see him being a good second pairing, possibly a top two defenceman in the near future. I just don’t think Slats would do a straight up deal for Gunner. You have to give to get. But don’t get me wrong, I’m in no hurry to move Franson. I just really like Boyle.

  14. @ Durt,

    I am with you, I think Boyle is a real Burke type player, size grit and some skill, and would love to have him..However I do not feel Gunnarson or Franson are the players I would want to give up for him. i would be more comfortable trading McArthur for him straight up.

  15. no one has really mentioned him, but if i was steve yzerman i would go after jaro halak. assuming elliot keeps this up next year, he should be a fine starter with this bishop kid backing him up.

  16. I expect Bishop to be dealt. I don’t know exactly what for though. Basically I think anyone in need of a goalie for next year will be interested. What most people don’t realize is that a team needs to trade for him this year and play him a certain number of games (I think its 15 im not to sure on the exact number) in order for him to switch from VI UFA to an RFA. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that is pretty accurate.

  17. Boyle’s not going anywhere, Durt. The Rangers and Leafs make bad trade partners. The Rangers have Wolski, Christensen and Stralman to move. Avery too if you want him! But they’re not going to move the guys they need for a deep playoff run, which is what Toronto wants. And they really don’t need anymore defensemen, they’ve got 8 or 9 guys who have played for them this year. Once Sauer’s healthy they’ll be in great shape back there.