NHL Morning Rumor Mill – April 28, 2014

The latest on the Blues, Red Wings, Stars and Capitals.

Will the Blues re-sign Ryan Miller?

Will the Blues re-sign Ryan Miller?

STLTODAY.COM: Following the Blues elimination from the playoffs, Jeff Gordon believes GM Doug Armstrong must cycle out some veterans, promote some high-end prospects and prepare for another playoff run. He doubts the Blues re-sign playoff rental Ryan Miller, who didn’t have a memorable series. Armstrong could promote promising Jake Allen and re-sign reliable Brian Elliott. He suggests re-signing Steve Ott if he can be had for a reasonable contract. He doesn’t advocate blowing up the roster. Jeremy Rutherford also reports the Blues playoff failure shifts the focus onto Miller’s future. Miller said contract talks with the Blues have never become very serious but said he would be interested in staying with St. Louis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller proved a disappointment for the Blues, failing to help them advance in the playoffs. At 34, his best years are likely behind him now. He could have difficulty finding a lucrative long-term contract this summer. With so little goaltending depth available this summer, the Blues could elevate Jake Allen and see how well he performs next season. 

ESPN.COM/MLIVE.COM/DETROIT NEWS: Craig Custance believes the Detroit Red Wings should go big in free agency this summer to bring in an impact defenseman and a scoring winger. The Wings will have nearly $20 million in cap space this summer to work with. Free agent defense options including Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle, while Vancouver’s Alex Edler and Buffalo’s Christian Ehrhoff are trade possibilities. Free agent scorers include Thomas Vanek, Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Matt Moulson and Jaromir Jagr. Ansar Khan reports the Red Wings biggest off-season needs are “a goal-scoring winger, preferably with decent size, and a top-four defenseman, preferably a right-handed shooter.” Wings GM Ken Holland he’d certainly like to add a top-four right-handed defenseman. Bob Wojnowski notes the lack of talent in this summer’s UFA market, believing it will take bold moves by the Wings to address their needs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bold moves would mean trades, and that would mean parting with a couple of their promising young players. The Canucks asking price for Edler (if there is one, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause) would be a good young forward being part of the return. I would imagine the Sabres would seek the same for Ehrhoff. 

ESPN.COM/DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In the wake of the Dallas Stars elimination from the playoffs, Craig Custance believes management should construct a legitimate second line to take pressure off the top line, add another veteran defenseman and trade veteran blueliner Sergei Gonchar, even if it means picking up of his $5 million salary for next season. Mike Heika doesn’t expect pending free agents Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler will be re-signed. He also believes the Stars should consider other moves with veterans still under contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have $20 million in cap space to address their secondary scoring and blueline needs. GM Jim Nill showed a willingness last summer to make bold moves (Tyler Seguin trade) so don’t be surprised if he goes shopping against this summer. I expect he’ll try to land affordable talent, which could keep him out of the bidding for expensive free agent stars. As for Gonchar, even offering to eat part of his salary probably won’t attract much interest in the 40-year-old, whose performance has understandably declined. Perhaps a compliance buyout would be the better way to go.

ESPN.COM/CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Craig Custance and Chuck Gormley wonder if Capitals owner Ted Leonsis would give whoever takes over as the club’s new general manager the leeway to trade franchise player Alexander Ovechkin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect whoever the Capitals hire will try to build around Ovechkin. Sure, a trade is always possible but I suspect highly unlikely at this point.


  1. Good luck to Washington trying to move Ovechkin with his questionable work ethic and $9.5M cap hit until the year 2021. Before you even consider what you’d have to give up to land Ovechkin, consider that most teams would have to either blow up their roster to make the trade work cap-wise, or they’d have a top-heavy team with no depth. Just guessing, I’d say there are probably less than 10 teams that would have any interest in obtaining Ovechkin.

    • Pay attention Leafs. Washington tried to build a team around a 1 dimensional winger and this one had the abiltity to score 50 goals and not 30. The final result? You be the judge. HIstory is a great teacher.

      • Habs won how many cups with LaFleur? How did the Islanders do with Bossy? Flames came close with Iginla, the finals any way, you were saying about history? Not saying its the best way to do things but I get a kick out of people who dismiss goalscoring wingers as some kind of side show. Think a team like the Blues couldnt have maybe used a ppg in the playoffs guy like Kessel? History lesson over.

        • Habs were stacked with Lafleur. Like STACKED. All star D, All star goalie, and just All star team in general. I think Bossy and the NYI had some guy named Trottier as their no. 1 C and he wasn’t to bad. A norris trophy winner named Potvin or some fill in on the back end. The Flames went on a magic run but really, where did they go after that? Kessel and Ovi are the guys you add because your solid core of 2-way,solid D team lacks that over the top scoring. Not how you start your build.

          • Not saying they didnt, in fact thats exactly what I am saying you build a team. You dont dismiss a team because they decide or are lucky enough to have a guy who puts up goals and say well they cant win because they are building around a winger. Hossa and Kane are pretty big parts of the Blackhawks. Players like Trotier and Potvin were great big piec3 yes the same as the stacked Habs team, it still doesnt take away from the fact that the best player on those teams was still a goal scoring winger. Its what you surround them with.

        • But Habs had more than LaFleur and NYI had more than Bossy, much more

        • ya but when you gave up seguin,hamilton and knight for a 36 goal MINUS winger that really hasn’t proven to be a clutch player hes really not worth it

          • Neither is the time spent reading your posts…yet there they are.

      • Who’s the 1 dimensional winger? That narrative is old, get a new thing to pick on that eventually be proven not true. I wonder if you mean 1 dimensional is a player that has consistently made his line mates better, even the AHL quality players he has been put on his line in the past. Do us all a favor and lose the hate.

        • Actually watching my team miss the playoffs every year is getting old. Listening to the post game interviews that the team didn’t compete is wearing thin as well. Who is the 1 dimensional forward? Really? How about the majority of them in the top 6 from Kessel to Lupul and Raymond etc. How many board battles are won? How many players would take a hit to clear the puck or make the play? You spout hater because you think the poster cheers for another team. Ok, everything is fine and I’m sure this build with a tweek next year will get us to the playoffs and a championship build soon. See, peace and love.

          • What about Tampa should they move Stamkos too? Not seeing any Norris type D in Anaheim, goaltending wasnt been great in the first round if Dallas ended up getting by the Ducks is it bye bye Perry? You build a team, you dont blow up the good stuff, because you are missing something or else how would teams get better?

      • Building around 1 player doesn’t work.. Period. There is no player in today’s NHL that can take a mediocre team to perennial contender. Not one. You can use a player as a center piece, but most cup winning teams end up having multiple big contributors, and when looking way back, most have multiple hall of famers.

        Ovechkin isn’t the problem in Washington. He isn’t the player he was, he isn’t as motivated. His lack of high end defensive skill is not why the capitals are now struggling. Crosby is the best player in the world, not great in his own end, and until the last couple of years, he was down right awful defensively. Not for lack of trying, and he is the most dedicated player in the game and has continued to improve in that regard, but his best defensive ability is going on the offense, and when he struggles in that regard he doesn’t look good.

        Players tend to get better defensively with age. Joe Thornton used to be considered one dimensional, but he is a very good defensive player now.

        Biggest problems teams with a lot of publicity face is that they let it influence their decisions. A few analysts and players said that washington played “wrong” after getting ousted by Montreal. They came back the next season and played a much different game. It was effective, and it showed how Boudreau could get his players to buy in to something completely different, but in the end that was their downfall. That they bought the crap people who knew nothing were spouting. If Anaylitics had been where it is today, the caps would have stuck with their style a while longer. They basically got 2 real chances at winning the cup then gave up. They make it to the playoffs as a young underdog in year 1, get beat by the Ranges. Year 2 they are a presidents trophy team and take the eventual cup champs to 7 games in a series where they dominated 3 games, and were a good bounce away from beating the pens in a couple other games, and only played one bad game. They weren’t awful, and got beat by what turned out to be the best team in the playoffs. Year 3 they get ousted in round one while outshooting the opposition by about a 3 to 1 margin, and lose against a goalie playing at an insane level that he couldn’t sustain. They even scored what would have been the game tying goal in game 7 and had it called back on a pretty weak goaltender interference call. After that they decide to change their play. Makes no sense. Since then management has put pressure on the players they have to play different, instead of maybe getting some players who actually excel at a different style of game. They gave up on a great goalie simply because they didn’t have any patience, have traded a good prospect for a guy they had trouble trying to give away, and have continuously done nothing to add to their few core piece. They also fired the NHL coach with the highest winning percentage in NHL history after a winning season.

        Knee jerk reactions, like ones caused by managers buying into the opinions of people who don’t know better calling out the best players on mediocre teams as if they are the problem, is what causes teams to suffer through long term mediocrity. You gather assets based on your ability to acquire them. Not based on some specified order you think it’s best to get them. Chiarelli is a great GM, he didn’t give up on his best assets, and he didn’t shy away from signing them because he didn’t think he had other pieces in place. He didn’t give up on Bergeron after his production dipped after his 3rd concussion, and many considered his contract too high for a player of his value. Instead he let him develop into one of the best two way center of the last decade. He didn’t give up on Krejci, Marchand, or Lucic after bad seasons. He moved players based on what the thought was best for his budget, and best management of assets. Whenever he has been tight against the cap, he takes his time and moves the player that makes the most sense, despite what people in the media might think. He decides what’s the most cap hit he can move, while getting the best return, rather than putting a player coming off a weak year on the block and selling low to a GM looking to take advantage.

        When picking out things on a mediocre team to comment on, people should probably spend time pointing out things the team is lacking, not how their best players aren’t elite in every aspect of the game.

        When looking at the Leafs, it makes more sense to focus on things like a lack of a coaching system, poor development of young players when they enter the NHL, poor use of young players when they enter the NHL, inexperienced defense, relying too heavily on best players to do all the heavy lifting, lack of a 4th line that can eat up any minutes, lack breakout structure that can break the other teams cycle, lack of a true 2nd defensive pairing that can take pressure off of the 1st pairing.

        The biggest issue the Leafs have had is that they have felt compelled to bring in coaches that are best know for working with teams that are pretty well complete and looking for someone to push them over the top. This is because in Toronto the big name is always sought after. They need a coaching staff that can instill an identity, put some structure in place, and can help young players improve. Wilson and Carlyle are not that type of coach.

        • ……. Ya, what Danny said. Lol

  2. It seems every team is looking for a top 6 forward and a top 4 defenseman. Since the free agent pool is very thin this year, it looks like the trade market will be active. We’ve heard Kesler, Ehrhoff and Edler may be available but each of them have NTCs so they may not realistically be in the mix. Who are other players (top 6 F or top 4 D) who have been targeted or identified for trades?

    • I’ve also heard Evander Kane, Spezza, Stepan, Couturier, Kesler, Skinner and Meyers are names I have heard – some may not be top 6 or 4, but close to it. Watching the Dallas game last night – they need to buy out Cole and Gonchar, add some bulk and a little more speed. Last night going into the 3rd – it just seemed like Lindy played it safe trying to sit on the lead which in turn burnt them. The best defense is a good offense.

      Miller did what he has done the past few years in Buffalo – he stands on his head at times, but then lets in a soft goal. He is a good goalie, but St. Louis didn’t get what they paid for and again……Buffalo got the better end of the deal. Losing Backus when St. Louis had momentum really hurt them, they just never recouped.

      • @Steve. Please for the love all things holy…it is MYERS not MEYERS.
        Huge pet peeve lol

  3. re: Miller

    1) If Sharks fold, I can see a bold move by Wilson of trading Neimi for Miller

    2) Once Blues fully realize Miller is not coming back I can see them giving Ducks permission
    to talk to Miller before July 1 and Ducks giving Blues permission to talk to Hiller at same time.
    Might as well as neither are coming back to their current teams

    3) Only way Miler ends up in Anaheim is if contract is short, as future is clear that Ducks will go with
    Andersen and Gibson long term.

    4) If all else fails, Hiller will be traded to Calgary before July 1 for a low round draft pick.
    Burke has always loved Hiller, gave him his break in Anaheim and tried to get him when he
    was with Leafs, as I recall.

    • Wasn’t Miller trying to get to California? I think his wife is an actress. The post makes sense with SJ and maybe they move Niemi.

      • People put too much stock into location with UFA’s. Callahan will go to Buffalo because it’s close to home. Miller will go to the Ducks to be closer to his wife. I don’t think players put too much emphasis on location, more on contending teams and $$$$$. When you’re richer, it’s easier to fly your wife in or fly back home to visit. How many players have been rumored to go to this team or that team because it’s “home” but it never seems to come to fruition. I doubt Miller ends up in Anaheim, I seriously doubt Callahan ends up in Buffalo.

        • Yep, that is sound logic, but apparently many folks here like to think that Anaheim will still sign an under-performing goaltender on the back side of his career simply because “his wife lives there” and they like family togetherness.

          • After Miller’s poor performance, what team will want to sign him for the money he will be looking for??

            I have an idea. Noooooboddyyyy!!

          • I agree that Miller completely sucked in the post season. But I think he could be a guy that takes a team like the Islanders to the post season…well him and a little more help. I’m sure he will get a decent offer from a desperate club.

  4. Calgary just hired Phoenix Assistant GM Brad Treliving as their GM.

  5. “Calgary just hired Phoenix Assistant GM Brad Treliving as their GM”.

    Therefore Brian Burke is still the GM in Calgary (LOL). Brad got the title and paycheck, but I reckon Burkie will still call the shots.I wonder if they rename the Arena the Boston Pizza Scotiabank Saddledome?

    Back on topic, it just goes to show much team chemistry and complimentary players have become more important than just having the superstar player or two. If you want Ovechkin to be Ovechkin you have to find players that always help him score more goals than he gives up, and bail him out on the weak part of his game. For example (not talent wise but style wise!) players like Grabovski and Kulemin could provide the space clearing and defensively responsible support that a player like Ovechkin needs. They have offensive skill but know how to play without the puck. I think the Caps should be (and should have been) more focused on assembling a shut down D Core and solid goaltending to build around Ovechkin. Great goalies and solid D are always harder to find and develop. With Ovechkin or not, I could see Grabo and Kulemin reunited in Washington. Key to that will be offensive or defensive minded coach. If its a defensive minded coach they will both take a pass on Caps. JMO.

    • A big thing with a guy like Ovechkin, he needs to be motivated again. People take for granted that it should be easy to stay motivated. But when you play on a team in a foreign country that keeps making silly half-measure type moves that continuously see assets lost and add nothing back, as well as constantly hear how bad you are from fans who don’t really watch you, and analysts who were former 3rd line players and also don’t watch you much, even during an MVP season, it’s hard to be 100% motivated all the time. When Ovechkin really gives it his all at both ends, he is a dynamic offensive player with a physical edge, and decent enough defensively that he isn’t hurting his team when he is out there.

      The sad part for Washington is that I do think they may soon need to blow it up if they can’t figure out the fix. They have given up too many good pieces for practically nothing so they can’t continue to let that happen. They need to do something bold to make things interesting. Not just for the addition, but to hopefully motivate their core.