Latest on Jason Spezza, Evander Kane, Johnny Boychuk and Willie Mitchell, plus updates on the Maple Leafs and Capitals.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector believes the Anaheim Ducks will acquire Jason Spezza instead of Ryan Kesler…An NHL scout can’t believe the Sharks are considering trading Joe Thornton, who Spector believes could be a good fit with the Maple Leafs…He also notes Jets stars Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien continue to float in the rumor mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks have the depth in young talent, prospects and draft picks to win a bidding war for Spezza, provided he’s their intended target…I’ll be very surprised if Thornton agreed to be dealt to the Leafs…Kane and Byfuglien have been rumor fodder for months, but will the Jets trade either guy?
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis reports Flames GM Brad Treliving denied a recent report in the Ottawa Sun claiming he’d made a pitch for Jason Spezza. “I haven’t made any such offers. That’s 100% fantasy island. I saw it early Sunday online and had to read it a couple times and had to remind myself ‘oh ya I’m the Flames GM. Interesting.’ ”
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle reports the Leafs still aren’t good enough at center or on defense. “The Leafs appear to be muddling along, stuck somewhere between being in contention or into a rebuild. New president Brendan Shanahan has stated multiple times he doesn’t view this as a tear-down rebuild, but if it’s not that, then what is it?”, asks Mirtle. He suggests they’ll either go young or attempt to kick-start things now like the Dallas Stars did last summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Part of the problem is they’ve saddled themselves with an unwieldy contract for David Clarkson, plus they’ve now got to find players who’ll buy into whatever system coach Randy Carlyle is trying to impose. It’s a mess right now. I expect they’ll try to go the “kick-start” route since they’ve missed the playoffs eight times over the past nine seasons. Another attempted rebuild with youth won’t sit well with the Leafs faithful, who are growing impatient over the club’s poor performance.
CBC.CA: Mike Brophy considers Jonathan Bernier, Morgan Reilly, Jake Gardiner and James van Reimsdyk as the Maple Leafs only untouchables.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brophy questions if Phil Kessel is willing to pay the price in tough games. Funny, I thought he proved that during last spring’s playoff series against the Bruins. Poor Kessel, he’s led a moribund Leafs team in scoring every year since joining the club, ranks among the top-ten scorers in the league the past three seasons and does it without a true first-line center, and he still gets little respect from Leafs fans and punditry. If the Leafs trade him, they’ll be making a grave mistake, but after decades of almost uninterrupted mismanagement, I’ve come to expect such blunders from them. Wouldn’t surprise me if they dealt away Kessel this summer for a handful of magic beans.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Gary Lawless doubts the Jets will move Evander Kane, noting they won’t get a return worthy of parting with the promising 22-year-old, who already has a 30-goal season on his resume.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will take a significant return to convince the Jets to part with Kane. They can’t just trade him for the sake of making a move. If there is issues with him and the team they must be resolved. Bringing him back for a full season under Paul Maurice seems the wise move. If they want to shake things up, moving Dustin Byfuglien while he still has decent trade value appears the best way to go.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports Boston sportscaster Joe Haggerty noted defenseman Johnny Boychuk is an Edmonton native, so shipping him to a Western Canadian club like the Oilers wouldn’t be a bad idea if the Bruins move him to shed salary. Haggerty claims Boychuk loves Edmonton and lives there in the offseason. Staples believed Boychuk would address many of the Oilers blueline issues, but the defenseman has a modified no-trade clause and must agree to be deal to Edmonton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Boychuk would be a good fit with the Oilers, provided the Bruins are shopping him and he’s willing to go there.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell hopes to return next season but the 37-year-old’s future with the club remains uncertain. Mitchell’s eligible for UFA status on July 1.