NHL Morning Rumor Mill – April 30, 2014.

Latest on Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Alexander Ovechkin, Jordan Eberle, Mike Richards, Johan Franzen and more. 

STLTODAY.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jeremy Rutherford reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong is considering changes for his roster following another disappointing early exit form the playoffs. He cited the difficulty of adding scoring via free agency and trades. He also intends to meet with goalie Ryan Miller to determine if he has a future in St. Louis. Armstrong also intends to promote promising goalie Jake Allen into the lineup next season. It’s expected the Blues will pick up the option year in coach Ken Hitchcock’s contract. Rory Boylen believes the Blues shouldn’t bother re-signing Miller and instead use their cap space to add a game-breaking scorer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Miller accepts a one-year deal worth around $5 million, he probably won’t return with the Blues. With Paul Stastny and Thomas Vanek available in this summer’s UFA market, it wouldn’t surprise me if Armstrong pursues one of them. While finding scoring punch via trade isn’t easy, Armstrong has depth to swing a deal  if possible. 

Could Thomas Vanek re-sign with the Canadiens after all?

Could Thomas Vanek re-sign with the Canadiens after all?

TWINCITIES.COM/LA PRESSE: Charley Walters believes the Minnesota Wild will pursue Montreal Canadiens winger Thomas Vanek via this summer’s UFA market. Richard Labbe reports Vanek’s agent Stephen Bartlett claims his client is open the possibility of re-signing with the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t get your hopes up, Habs fans. While the Canadiens have a projected $27 million in cap space this summer (based on a projected cap ceiling of $71 million), half of that gets eaten up in new contracts for defensemen P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov. Yep, I believe the Habs will re-sign Markov, probably a three-year deal at $5.5 million per. Subban’s new contract will be worth around $8.5 million annually. They must also replace or re-sign Lars Eller, Brian Gionta, Dale Weise, Ryan White, Francis Bouillon, Mike Weaver, George Parros and Douglas Murray. If they succeed in re-signing Vanek for, say, $7 million per season they’ll have $21 million locked up in three players. That won’t leave much to re-sign or replace their other free agents.

The Wild, meanwhile, have over $48 million invested in 17 players, with  fewer key players to re-sign or replace than the Habs. I believe they stand a better chance of signing Vanek (who has tied to the state of Minnesota) than the Canadiens have of re-signing him.

CBC.CA/WASHINGTON POST: Mike Brophy points out the benefits for the Capitals of trading Alexander Ovechkin, Dan Steinberg examines the notion Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is too close to Ovechkin. Barry Svrluga believes it doesn’t matter who the Capitals next GM is, as the club’s future remains in Ovechkin’s hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, an Ovechkin trade could fetch the Capitals a nice bounty. Doesn’t mean the new Capitals GM (whoever it is) will seriously consider that option. They’ll look to rebuild around Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites TSN’s Ray Ferraro suggesting the Oilers should shop winger Jordan Eberle to St. Louis for center Patrik Berglund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This trade suggestion makes absolutely no sense for the Oilers. As Staples points out, Eberle is the best player in the deal. Berglund isn’t fair value. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently wondered if Kings GM Dean Lombardi could use one of his compliance buyouts on slumping forward Mike Richards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting suggestion. I doubt the Kings could get good value for Richards, whose contract has six years remaining on it at $5.75 million per season. They could pick up part of that contract, though there could be salary cap recapture penalties to consider if he retires before the deal expires in 2019. 

NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough cites reports from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that Red Wings GM Ken Holland could consider using a compliance buyout for Jordin Tootoo if a trade can’t be found. Holland has no intention of buying out Johan Franzen.


  1. Ferraro actually suggested that Eberle be swapped for a package of Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk which is closer to a fair deal.

    • True, the actual suggestion was “would you consider one of the Blues’ D like Shattenkirk and Berglund for Eberle and someone else?” That someone else would have to be another significant player from the Oilers. I doubt very much the Blues would make that swap. As Staples subsequently pointed out, Shattenkirk wouldn’t address the Oilers blueline needs for a top-two defenseman as he’s more along the lines of Justin Schultz. He’s a good puck-moving defenseman but isn’t big or physical.

  2. If St. Louis has the depth, they could go all out to increase their scoring and try to put a package together for Ovechkin. He has the goals and his 200+ hits means he fits in with the blues aggressive style. The problem is that the package would have to be significant that it may weaken their roster. Would Steen, Shattenkirk and Berglund be enough? Would St. Louis be better or worse if they gave up those players (or more) for Ovie? Could Hitch teach him how to play in his own end?

  3. Is Hitch even going to be there…Any other place Hitchcock has been he has had great success for the first few years but his shelf life catches up to him rather quickly. The Blues need offense no doubt about it but is it going to come in time? I doubt that package is enough to land Ovi, and with the way Tarasenko has looked Im not sure that maybe 1 or 2 guys who are a little more like depth scoring as opposed to top line type guys might be more of the answer. Which is why the Miller Ott trade was a ridiculious one to make imo.

    • St. Lou should have traded for Miller Moulson – while I really like the play of Ott, scoring goals isn’t one of his strengths. Would I like him to return to the Sabres, you bet as he is a good mentor for our youngsters. St. Louis needs a scorer and maybe someone like Hemsky, Gionta or Cammarelli can fill that void – otherwise St. Lou is going to have to make a trade and give up to get. We all know that Vanek is going to end up with the Wild and I really don’t see any team doing a deal for Ovi – but you never know.

    • Never liked trading Picks / Prospects for older UFA’s, it’s trying to catch lightning in a bottle. The picks / prospects COULD be a lot of games being traded for someone who walks in a few weeks. 16 teams make the playoffs so is it worth trading future for someone who plays only two months for you ? Odds are not in your favor that you will win the cup.

      • But that’s why GM’s trading for an older UFA would rather use picks, because the odds are actually against the draftee playing long in the NHL. Rather than trading a decent prospect that will probably play in the NHL. So actually I’d say the odds of the team winning the cup are greater than the odds that the player drafted will play over 20 games in the NHL. Especially if its out of the 1st round. Even 1st round pick have low percentages.

  4. Thing is with the Oilers is that no matter who gets pointed out as a trade chip there is going to be the arguement that its not fair trade value, the Oil are not going to be in position to get fair trade value anywhere, they are top heavy the pieces they need are guys like Berglund. Good gms like Armstrong will know this and I am pretty sure with how the rebuild has been going MacT and Lowe must be starting to realize this. At what point do you have too many top 3 types and not enough of the guys you surround them with to be successful? No team is going to give up a very good and somewhat proven defensively responsible 2 c for Gagner. The Oilers need to decide who are their guys and be prepaired to deal the ones that are not to make it a better team. Quit worrying about individual players. Maybe a pick or a secondary type player could be added but Berglund for Eberle does make some sense as the foundation of a deal.

    • I guarantee you the oilers know who they want long term. However, they can’t settle and they can’t force another team to trade on their terms…. simple as that. Just because the media reports something doesn’t mean it is a reflection of management values. Sure they could decide Gagner is not part of the long term picture(As they probably did a year ago), but that doesn’t justify trading him for a player that does not fit the puzzle or does not improve the Oilers long term.

      • Of course it doesn’t, what I am saying tho is it makes no sense to sit there and wait until someone offers up a top 2 type d man for Gagner its not going to happen. At somepoint you may have to look at a deal giving up one of the big guys to get something of need, and quit worrying so much about the optics of the deal there are other ways to balance out trades. They may not be able to deal from a position of strength because of the position the are in so you just dont do deals and continue not improving your team because “well he was a higher pick…” that mentality is not helping. Even if you do know the pieces of the puzzel you want does not mean they will ever be available especially at the cost you want to pay. Again just as an example Eberle for Berglund could be somewhat a workable deal if St. louis throws in a pick or say a guy like Jackman for another piece from Edmonton with Eberle. Yes Eberle is probably the better player in the deal but if the Oilers think they are going to get a no.1 D man from the Blues or anyone else for Eberle in a 1 for 1 its probably not going to happen. The Oilers are top heavy with young and unproven talent and have to stop looking at them as if they are all untouchable because of the potential.

      • How about ganger and yakupov to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter, rob Scuderi and simon despres? Gives them a young 2 way forward, a proven winner to mentor their young d coming up and a young puck moving defencemen who can step right into top 4 minutes. I would love to see yak on the Malkin, Neal line, that would be unbelievable. As a pens fan I can dream.

  5. Richards is not even thirty yet so I don’t see him retiring before 2019, so the recapture penalty I doubt is a concern. I am sure the Kings could off load him somewhere with keeping a bit of his cap hjt.

    Edmonton needs to trade one of their top end young players to help fill out the roster with more efficient players to make the team more of a force top to bottom both offensively and defensively.

  6. What about the nucks trading for Richards and putting Kesler one the wing? Just wondering if that would work…. a Centre that can pass the puck and a winger who obviously likes to shoot first ask questions later.

  7. As a Penguin fan, I am still open to a trade of a package including Eberle for a package including Malkin.