The latest speculation on Loui Eriksson, Shawn Horcoff, Nikolai Khabibulin, the Islanders goaltending and more.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson dismissed a suggestion from a fan website which had the Dallas Stars shipping winger Loui Eriksson to the NY Islanders for Michael Grabner and Ryan Strome, which generated outrage from some Islanders followers. Matheson does suggest Eriksson could be shopped for a first-line center. He also speculates the Stars depth in young defensemen could make Trevor Daley or Alex Goligoski trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted last week when Matheson raised the notion of Eriksson becoming trade bait, such a move would leave the Stars weak on the right side, with only a fading Erik Cole and some unproven kids to fill the gap. I agree the Stars would prefer to add a first line center and move Jamie Benn back to left wing, but moving Eriksson resolves one problem and creates another. Best to package Goligoski with a prospect.
Matheson also responded to some reader e-mail, suggesting there’s a 50-50 chance the Oilers buy out Shawn Horcoff’s contract, dismissed the possibility of the Oilers prying Chris Neil away from the Ottawa Senators, and doubts the Philadelphia Flyers would be interested in trading Sean Couturier to the Oilers for Sam Gagner. Finally, he wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets might have interest in Nikolai Khabibulin as a backup for Sergei Bobrovsky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Horcoff has two more seasons at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Lots of money to be investing into a center who’s essentially a third liner now. They could carry him for one more season and buy him out next summer. I also don’t see the Oilers landing Neil or the Flyers parting with Couturier for Gagner, as the Flyers most pressing need is landing a skilled puck-moving defenseman. If the Blue Jackets want a veteran backup for Bobrovsky, I think there’s better, healthier options available this summer.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports NY Islanders GM Garth Snow doesn’t have any plans to make any significant changes via trades or free agent signings this summer, preferring to keep as much of his roster intact as possible. Snow still has to re-sign pending UFAs Mark Streit, Evgeni Nabokov and Brad Boyes, though all three expressed a wish to return, which is a good sign. His intention remains to rebuild from within.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Jason Brough wonders if Snow might wish to be more aggressive with his goaltending depth, noting the availability of Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier in this summer’s trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles learned from painful experience the folly of carrying players with lengthy expensive contracts (hello there, Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro) so I don’t see them pursuing Luongo. Miller probably prefers a trade to a Western Conference club to be closer to his actress-wife in LA. That leaves Bernier, who’d be an excellent addition, especially if they want to bring back Nabokov for one more season. He and Bernier could split the duties next season and groom the latter to eventually take over full time. Still, if Snow intends to build from within, that would put him out of the Bernier sweepstakes.