Updates on David Clarkson and Damien Brunner, plus the latest on the Jets, Stars and Oilers.
NJ.COM: Rich Chere reported Devils pending UFA forward David Clarkson doesn’t know where he’ll be playing next season. Chere believes the Devils will try to sign Clarkson, but he could get offers which convince him to sign elsewhere. The Toronto Maple Leafs have long been linked to Clarkson, plus cap space could also be an issue for the Devils. Clarkson acknowledged he’s yet to have contract talks with the Devils, but said he enjoyed playing for them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A year ago I was certain the Devils would re-sign Zach Parise. I know Devils GM Lou Lamoriello wants to avoid losing another notable player – like Clarkson – to free agency, but the combination of the Devils cap space and the offers Clarkson could get elsewhere make re-signing him an uncertainty.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In the wake of the Stars elimination from playoff contention, Mike Heika speculates “one of Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley or Alex Goligoski is made available in a trade”. There might not be enough room for pending UFA Jordie Benn, while Eric Nystrom could also be on his way out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s also speculation Stars ownership could replace GM Joe Nieuwendyk or head coach Glen Gulutzan. I doubt the former is replaced, but I wouldn’t rule out a coaching change. I expect the Stars retain Daly and Goligoski, as Robidas has been frequently mentioned this season as a trade candidate, despite his NTC.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Ed Tait reports another missed post-season leaves Jets management facing another summer of unanswered questions, among which is what to do with their nine pending unrestricted free agents.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of this group (Nik Antropov, Grant Clitsome, Ron Hainsey, Al Montoya, Derek Meech, Antti Miettinen, Aaron Gagnon, Wellwood and Mike Santorelli), I wouldn’t be surprised if only Clitsome and Santorelli return.
MLIVE.COM: Brendan Savage recently asked if the Red Wings should re-sign Damien Brunner and for how much. He suggests a four-year, $10 million deal, while Ansar Khan believes two years at around $2.5 million per season would suffice
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Brunner’s friendship with Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, I believe he’ll return, probably on a tw0-three year deal for $2.5 million per.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s recent suggestion new Oilers GM Craig MacTavish’s bold move could be shopping his first round pick. Staples also noted McKenzie’s colleague Darren Dreger believes MacTavish could make as many as six changes, pursuing a goalie (Mike Smith? Jonathan Bernier? Ryan Miller?), defense (Kevin Shattenkirk? Andrew Ference? Mark Streit?), and forwards (Jarome Iginla? Brenden Morrow? David Clarkson? Matt Hendricks?). He also reported the Oilers hope to re-sign RFA center Sam Gagner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples offered up his own take, so here’s mine: I expect MacTavish will shop his first round pick (the higher it is, the more value it’ll have), perhaps even packaging it with Gagner (if unable to re-sign him) or another forward like Magnus Paajarvi to shop for a quality defenseman. If the Coyotes get their ownership sorted out, I expect they’ll re-sign Smith. I don’t believe Miller will accept a trade to Edmonton. Bernier is a more likely, and more affordable, target.
Forget about landing Streit, the Islanders are re-signing him. I also expect the Blues to re-sign Shattenkirk. Ference will be available but he could prefer signing with an Eastern team. I don’t see Iginla signing with the Oilers, and Morrow is on his last legs. Clarkson would be a great fit, but he too likely prefers staying in the East. I also think the Capitals hope to re-sign Hendricks. So, to summarize, of those aforementioned players, I believe the Oilers best shot is landing Bernier. They’ll probably have to look elsewhere for depth at defense and forward.