Updates on the remaining notable NHL UFAs, the latest on the Avalanche, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish seeks more toughness plus provides an update on Ales Hemsky and wondering if the Capitals should pursue Mikhail Grabovski.
TORONTO SUN: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch provides updates on the notable remaining NHL UFAs. An NHL executive told Garrioch the reason so many remain unsigned is “the money has been spent”, though a “high-profile agent” claims some teams will have to shed some cash to sign UFAs. Garrioch believes Brenden Morrow will have to accept a pay cut but believes a team will bring Morrow in to provide veteran leadership, claims several teams has “kicked tires” on Ron Hainsey (noting the Red Wings are still seeking blueline help), believes Vaclav Prospal can still be a valuable role player, noted Mikhail Grabovski has narrowed his list to three teams (pointing out the Flames and Capitals could use help at center) and expressed surprise Mason Raymond remains unsigned.
Garrioch also cites a league executive who doesn’t believe Tim Thomas or Ilya Bryzgalov will be signed before training camp, but they’ll have to be patient and wait for an opportunity arising from a training camp injury…The Sabres haven’t found any takers for Ryan Miller, who’ll likely start the season with them…The Canucks expect Roberto Luongo to report to training camp…The Senators have held contract extension talks with Colin Greening but aren’t close to a deal. The Senators are also trying to move Jim O’Brien’s contract…The Maple Leafs have tried unsuccessfully to trade John-Michael Liles, who could be bought out later this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those unsigned UFAs, I expect all to be under contract when training camp opens, except for Thomas and Bryzgalov, who could end up waiting through the start of the season. They’ll all have to accept considerably less than what they earned on their previous contracts…The earliest I see a market for Miller is the trade deadline…Remains to be seen if the Maple Leafs go the buyout route with Liles. We’ll know for sure by Sunday.
DENVER POST: Adrian Dater responded to questions about Avalanche forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, saying it’s not a foregone conclusion O’Reilly will be traded later this season, noting he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, unlike Stastny who’ll become an unrestricted free agent. Dater believes either O’Reilly or Stastny will have to go.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon their respective performances and that of the Avalanche this season. O’Reilly cannot be moved until February 28, one year to the day the Avalanche matched the two-year offer sheet from the Flames. O’Reilly is also younger than Stastny and could prove more affordable to re-sign. Of the two, I’d say Stastny could be the most likely to be dealt, but if he’s willing to accept a pay cut, the Avalanche could keep him.
EDMONTON JOURNAL/EDMONTON SUN: Oilers GM Craig MacTavish would like to add more toughness to his roster, and acknowledged he’s spoken with Ales Hemsky and his agent, expecting the winger could still help the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s simply too many factors (injury history, salary, declining salary cap) working against a Hemsky trade this summer, but he could be moved at some point next season. Adding toughness will be easier to do via trade or free agency before the season begins.
CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Chuck Gormley wonders if Mikhail Grabovski might be a good fit with the Capitals, especially if they can get him at an affordable price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gormley’s not the only one wondering about that. If they can get him on even an affordable one-year contract, they should go for it. Of course, it remains to be seen if the Capitals are even on Grabovski’s three-team list of preferred destinations.