The latest on Ilya Bryzgalov, Jonathan Bernier, James Neal, Drew Stafford and more.
COURIER-POST.COM/PHILLY.COM: Randy Miller reports agent Ritch Winter, who represents Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, said GM Paul Holmgren told him the club had “no current plans” to buy out his client, though Winter acknowledged things could change. Frank Seravalli believes Winter sounds desperate, and claimed Bryzgalov bragged to some teammates earlier this year he would be bought out.
CSNPHILLY.COM: John Boruk also reported on the ongoing uncertainty over Bryzgalov’s status with the Flyers, and mused on possible replacement if he were bought out. He suggested Tim Thomas on a one-year deal as one option, Roberto Luongo (whom he believes the Canucks will buy out) and Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom as others. He’s not optimistic over the Flyers chances of landing LA Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier.
He also doubts the Flyers trade for Phoenix’s Keith Yandle, but suggested the possibility of trying once again to pry Shea Weber away from the Predators, claiming there’s “rumblings” they could shop Weber on July 23, the one-year anniversary of their matching the Flyers offer sheet. Boruk also believes the Flyers could pursue Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan, and listed Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla and David Clarkson as attractive free agent targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flyers can land a suitable replacement for Bryzgalov via trade (like Bernier), I don’t believe they’ll hesitate one second to buy him out. As for Weber, Predators GM David Poile has repeatedly stated he has no intention of trading his captain, citing he and Pekka Rinne as the foundation of his team. The Flyers might be able to land Ryan if the Ducks believe they must move him to shed salary space, but that’s not a certainty. Horton, given his injury history, could be a risky free agent signing for the Flyers or anyone else. Iginla’s age means they should only approach him if he’s interested in a short-term deal for no more than $5 million per, while Clarkson’s value could be driven beyond the Flyers price range.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK/SPORTSNET.CA: Recent reports suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild are the only clubs remaining in the bidding for LA Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier. The Kings are prepared to take the best offer presented by one of these three.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports Wild GM Chuck Fletcher would like to re-sign Nicklas Backstrom, but he is considering other options, including Bernier. The NY Islanders are also believed still in the bidding for the Kings backup. It’s believed the Kings want to move Bernier prior to the June 30th NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s possible Bernier could be dealt at some point next week. The Flyers would love to land him for obvious reasons (see above), and he’d certainly be a good fit with the Wild and Islanders. As for the Leafs, while I understand Dave Nonis’ desire to improve at every position, I think he’s wasting assets on Bernier which could be better used to address more obvious issues (center, defense) elsewhere in the lineup. For me, James Reimer’s performance this season establishes him as their starter. If Nonis wants to bring in an experienced backup, fine, but adding Bernier will only create a goaltending controversy which will prove an unnecessary distraction next season.
CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Chuck Gormley noted Daniel Briere’s upcoming availability via free agency, considering the pros and cons of adding him to the Capitals roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere will certainly attract considerable attention in this summer’s UFA market, where his buyout makes him an affordable option.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Rob Rossi noted recent reports suggesting the Penguins could shop winger James Neal, and claimed the Pens have no intention of moving Neal.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson (via David Staples) still believes the Oilers will try to acquire winger Drew Stafford from the Buffalo Sabres. Staples wondered if the Sabres might be up for a Stafford-for-Ales Hemsky swap?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers are interested in Stafford, I believe Sabres GM Darcy Regier would be willing to deal him, but I doubt he’ll want Hemsky in return. The Sabres are rebuilding with affordable youth, so I don’t see them taking on Hemsky’s $5 million salary for next season.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports the Red Wings will look at compliance buyouts if no trades are available before the draft to free up cap space. Mikael Samuelsson could be a candidate, though that depends on if he’s medically cleared during the buyout period. Carlo Colaiacovo could be another candidate. Todd Bertuzzi could be another, though St. James believes his size and physical play could make him worth retaining next season.
CSNBAYAREA.COM: Kevin Kurz reports the San Jose Sharks are in talks with pending UFA goalie Alex Stalock, which could signal the end of Thomas Greiss (also a pending UFA) as the Sharks backup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Predators could target Greiss as their backup if he hits the UFA market.