NHL Morning Rumor Mill – June 23, 2014

The Blues consider their options for a second-line center, updates on Jason Spezza, Ryan Kesler and Joe Thornton, plus the latest on the Oilers and Red Wings.

The Blues have interest in Ryan Kesler and Jason Spezza.

The Blues have interest in Ryan Kesler and Jason Spezza.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeremy Rutherford reports sources claims the Blues have inquired about Ottawa’s Jason Spezza and Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler “among others” in their efforts to land a top-end center. Rutherford speculates the Blues could be forced into free agency to address their needs if they cannot swing a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Blues are among the front runners for Spezza, and if Kesler is willing to expand his list of preferred trade destinations, they could have a good shot at landing him. Of the two, I think Spezza is their preferred target. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell cites sources close to Jason Spezza saying the center didn’t request a trade, but merely said if the Senators intended to tear down the roster and rebuild with youth that he wouldn’t stand in management’s way if they wanted to move him. Spezza is a UFA next summer and GM Bryan Murray knows the best time to move him is now, rather than at next year’s trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the reason, Spezza’s on the trade block and could belong to another team by the end of this week. 

NBC SPORTS: cites a report from TVA Sports in which Joe Thornton’s agent and brother, John Thornton, said his client only wants to play for the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While things could change it appears Thornton will return with the Sharks for 2014-15. I daresay he’ll see how things go over the course of next season and then assess his future with the club. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson interviewed Oilers GM Craig MacTavish regarding his offseason plans for the club. Matheson claims there’s a slim chance MacTavish could trade his first-round pick (third overall) if Aaron Ekblad and Leon Draisaitl are gone but he’d want a mid-first round pick in return. He hopes to land a player in the draft who can help the Oilers right away. MacTavish won’t say if he’s shopping Sam Gagner but says Gagner hasn’t requested a trade.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan, responding to reader e-mail, doesn’t see Red Wings GM Ken Holland acquiring a top-three forward, a number one defenseman or an enforcer…He expects Marian Gaborik to re-sign with the LA Kings…He doesn’t believe Holland will invest big bucks in Thomas Vanek, nor does he believe the Wings will part with the return needed to land Coyotes blueliner Keith Yandle…He believes Matt Niskanen will be too expensive…He expects the Wings will opt for more affordable options like Anton Stralman, Dan Boyle, Derek Morris, Tom Gilbert and Stephane Robidas.


  1. To bad Girardi signed with the Rangers. Weak class of UFA blue liners this offseason.

  2. Story of the Red Wings since their last cup. Get 1 or 2 mediocre guys in Free Agency to hold the ship together. They make the playoffs and are out in round 1 or 2. They don’t need a major overhaul but they do need a change of some sort. They have a gluttony of Forward and Defensive prospects in the minor leagues. Put together some sort of package.

    Babcock for some reason hates Tatar and loves Nash. Rangers need salary cap relief, Red Wings need a big power forward to play top minutes. This years 1st and Tatar for Nash works for both teams. Rangers have to eat 20-25% of his contract to make this work. There is your top 3 talent.

    For a D-man I’d be fine with Boyle on a 2 year 10 mill contract, but if not Erhoff and Buff are available and again we have the prospects/young players to get them. obviously without our 1st this year(going to NYR) it would be harder to get one of these 2, but not impossible. Jurco kindl and one of Marchenko/Almquist/Oulette/Jensen and this years 3rd gets the deals done. I know it sacrifices some Det’s youth but overall we are a better team with these 2 deals.

    • I am all for moving Nash, but not at the cost of retaining nearly $2 million in salary for 4 more years. I’d rather they trade him for some high end prospects and picks and keep nothing. It wouldn’t be a very Sather like trade to retain any salary, unless its the other team retaining. To my knowledge he has never retained a dime of a players salary, but has taken on players where the other team has retained some salary.

    • I wouldn’t be so bold as to say Babcock hates Tatar and therefore should be traded away. However I do like the idea of bringing in Nash as I think Babcock could kickstart him and get him going again. Boyle would be a decent stop gap for when Oulette and Sproul are more prepared. If Campbell is available he might be a decent option. Both would allow Kindl and Smith to be a bottom pairing which isn’t so bad.

      I really hope Holland doesn’t resign gustavsson as I would like to see Mrazek get the backup role.

      The Red Wings have the pieces to make a big splash, but out of the players available I really hope they just stand pat and let the kids further their development.

      • would you trade Tatar and this years 1st for Nash?

        • Personally no. I think that is to much to give up for Nash. He’s more of a big name now then the player he was in Columbus. Plus he has a pretty large contract.

        • A first and Tatar for Nash? That isn’t a good deal at all for the Wings.

          To Wings
          Nash ($2 mill retained)

          To Rangers
          Conditional 3rd (Becomes a first depending on Nash’s performance. I’m sure he’d probably have to reach 30 goals and 50+ points.)

          • Omg, so a 50 point 30 goal guy @5.8 mill for a 3rd round pick and hope. Seems reasonable. Lol with the 2 mill that the Rangers hold that would be like paying Tatar a 23 yo winger who has played 100 games with 50 points 3 million what exactly is the point?

          • Omg, so a 50 point 30 goal guy @5.8 mill for a 3rd round pick and hope. Seems reasonable. Lol with the 2 mill that the Rangers hold that would be like paying Tatar a 23 yo winger who has played 100 games with 50 points 3 million what exactly is the point?

    • I’m not sure if there are many if any GM’s that would give up top prospects or 1st rounder for Nash. His point totals have been dropping for the last 4 seasons. That’s while subtracting the lockout shortened season. You get all that for a $7.8 million cap hit over 4 years. No way you guys deal that that player and that contract for top prospects and/or high picks.

      • i do if rangers eat 2 million of his salary, we Need a NASH type player more then a tatar type. We have plenty of him

        • Ya I would to if they took back AT LEAST $2 mill in salary in return. He is nothing more than a $3.5-$4 million player now. So overpaying him by a mill is as high as I’d go.

  3. I think this is a sign of things to come involving UFAs in the future, older guys who have become expendable, to cheaper younger players, or guys like Niskanen amd Fayne who are decent just not necessarily top tear guys that will get substantial raises that may not fit the budget of their respective team. Big name big money UFAs are a thing of the past, to much value in locking guys up or trading them 2ith a year or 2 term left on the deal. The return for remtals in a trade is small, return for a guy with some term on his deal is huge.

    • Thanks tips been happening for years.

      • Richards hasnt played in Philly in years, up to a few weeks ago you didnt know that either so I figured Id slow things down for ya.

  4. Does anyone else have a feeling whoever signs niskanen is going to be very disappointed?

    • Yeppers

    • Not only Niskanen, but also Hemsky. This is a really weak UFA class this year.

    • Niskanen is solid. He could put up close to the same numbers up if he finds a place with a an offensive team like Pittsburgh.

  5. Wouldnt surprise me in the least to see Ekblad and Draisaitl go 1, 2 thing tat confuses me is why Mac T would nt consider Bennet at 3 he will be a bery good center where the Oilers depth is shaky to say the least and has a great 200 ft game…like really good, may not put up 30 40 goals but he is more along the line of a Toews type center ( not comparing or saying he will have the same skill type) very hard to play against and makes almost no mistakes its not that he is super flashy but he has very few almost no holes in his game, better all around player than Dal Colle. This type of player is exactly what Edmonton could use.

    • Very similar to Monahan with more offensive upside.

      • Is Draisaitl this year’s draft riser? If so, who could fall?

        • I think its a draft where GMs will pick needs vs skills, not so sure its about 1 guy being clearly that much more than the other after Ekblad, if a team is looking for some size on wing or center Ritchie and Draisaitl will go higher if ypu want scoring Dal Colle and Reinhart Bennet plays more of an all arouund game etc. They all have some skill but there is no clear cut better player after Ekblad and even with him D is at aremium in this draft which is probably why he is so heavily the consensus no 1 after him the d prospects really fall off, it just depends on what you are looking for down the road. All this draft will take so, e time to develop from the jr games Ive seen. Ive seen alot of Bennet Dal Colle Ritchie and Ekblad over the past couple of winters here in Kingston its not the same type of draft years its been in previous years with flashy this kid is going to be in the nhl next year type players. Quite a few of those type next year, but this year is more ballanced imo wouldnt surprise me if any of the top 10 guys moved up or down a few spots.

    • If you watched Reinhart single handedly dismantle the much higher ranked Calgary Hitmen in the first round of the WHL playoffs you wouldn’t be surprised to see Max Reinhart go top two. Reinhart and Ekblad will go top two the Oilers will take Draisaitl which will leave Bennet at fourth for the Flames. Though, I don’t think the Flames will take Bennet because he doesn’t have the style of game Burke likes, but I may be wrong here. This is just my opinion.

      • The same could be said about Nick Ritche the kid was a beast in the playoffs, wouldnt be surprised if he moved top 5, weird year like that agreed KevJam.

        • Just looked a Nick Ritche’s profile, that just screams Brian Burke. Might just complement Monahan nicely, unfortunately.

          • Freakishly big kid, but he does have some skill. He could be the sleeper star of this draft, also the biggest bust.

          • Ritchie honestly seems like he will be a bust IMO. He’s definitely not going to Calgary. Top 5 are set. Only way Ritchie ends up in Calgary with Burke is if the Flames decide to trade down.

      • I don’t think it is going to play much of a part in who gets picked. Since Brad came on board they have finalized their list with their scouts and tend to trust in the scouts heavily. As was said today on flames.com, “stick with the list”

    • Bennett I believe will fall and Draisaitl will rise.

      1. Ekblad – FLA – They need a franchise defenseman
      2. Reinhart – BUF – Will not pass on offensive stud like him with the best hockey IQ in the draft.
      3. Draisaitl – EDM – They need a big body down the middle for one of their top two lines and Draisaitl does exactly that.
      4. Bennett – CGY – I honestly think Bennett will just be a Callahan type of guy.
      5. Dal Colle – NYI – Great scorer but definitely cannot compete with the top 4 IMO.

      • “…just be a Callahan type guy”??? lol jeezus
        Ya who needs a younger Callahan type guy, not the Panthers Sabres Oilers, LMAO. When have you seen Dal Colle play against or with Reinhart or Draisaitl to come to the conclusion that he can not compete with either of them?

        • Lol OMG Shticky seems like you’ve been sniffing those paint fumes again.

          Did I say he can’t compete with them? Seriously dude you got to learn to read the post slower or if that doesn’t work you should consider going back to school. Get your ABC’s in order. This draft will be picked on needs. The only one in the top 3 that could even have a chance at drafting Bennett is the Sabres. But if there is a better center available what would you do? Yes draft the best one. Edmonton needs Draisaitl more then they need Bennett. Bennett is going to be a younger Callahan. What’s the problem with me saying he will just be a Callahan type of guy? Jeezus man seriously got to lay off those paint fumes. Take care.

          • Its exactly what you said “5. Dal Colle – NYI – Great scorer but definitely cannot compete with the top 4″

        • Seth Jones fell to 4 right? I love how its so set in stone in your eyes thst Ekblad is a “franchise d man”, notsaying he isnt going to be good but you are putting the cart before thr horse, lots of scouts have his upside as a second pairing d man, want to go over some other early first round d men. Here are a list of the D men who were picked before all other dmen Look at all these franchise csnt miss types..
          02 Chris Philips 03 Suter 04 Cam Barker, Smid, 05 Jack Johnson (now on his 3rd team) 06 Erik Johnson (now on his second team) 07 Thomas Hickey 08 an exception with Doughty, 09 Hedman, 10 Gudbranson 11 Adam Larsson 2012 Murray …its not a a sure thing that Ekblad develops in to a Chara or Pronger type d man. Some scouts have compared him to Luke Schenn. If you go thru these drafts you generally find better D men found at later picks because the development of D men is a different process than forwards… Shae Weber was taken in the second round at 49 in 03. Taking D men early in the first round is a gamble.

  6. When your no. 1 center is Backes you dont need Kesler as a 2, I agree Spezza makes much more sense in St.Louis.

    • My biggest concern about Spezza would be how he matches up against the much more physical style of play in the west. He has a history of back trouble and has proven to be somewhat fragile in recent years. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were an angle opposing GM’s are trying to exploit in their efforts to get Spezza away from from Ottawa for as little as possible.

    • I agree with you Backes and Kesler are too similar Spezza needs to be their priority. What I think should be the back-up plan if they don’t get Spezza is Brad Richards, offer him a 2-3 year deal at no more than 3-3.5M. Either that or stay the course with Berglund who will probably get you the same amount of points as Richards.

    • Agreed Shtick. Well said. Short and sweet. I have no clue why the Blues would be pursuing Kesler. Spezza will be the guy they will get.

      @ Bowman

      Both Kesler and Spezza have injury troubles.

      @ Chris

      Brad Richards is a good consolation prize and they give nothing up. They could also bring in another scorer if they decide to go the Richards route. I’d only sign him for more then a year if he accepts a bonus laden contract.

  7. Recent word in Vcr is Kesler is only willing to waive his NTC to go to Chi or Pitts…Pitts have 2 tope centres and Ch has when they re-sign Towes and Kane….. Kesler stays in Vcr ?

    • Well then he really doesn’t want to leave that bad then. If I were Benning I’d have feelers out for the twins over trading Kesler. Send them to the NYI, Panthers, Sabres, Wings, or Preds. In all cases this is a pipe dream because of salaries and if they have NMC. But honestly that return will blow the Kesler return away. If Kesler doesn’t want to stay trade him but if true he is sticking to two teams hold onto him, he isn’t being very accommodating for a guy that wants out. Bottom line Canucks need a youth movement not a half-assed tweak as you go.

      • hypothetically if you traded the twins to the wings, what kind of return are you looking for? Do you keep any of their salary?

    • in my opinion if he asked for a trade then he violated the spirit of that clause so for him to handicap Benning by saying he’s only willing to go to Pittsburgh or Chicago shows a pretty selfish attitude. the rumor was that Kesler told anyone who would listen at the Olympics that he was done with Vancouver, if that’s the case and he asked for a trade then he should be offering more options in the way of trading partners for Benning. make no mistake Kesler and his agent asked for a no trade clause and it should work BOTH ways,

    • Do you have a link to this report or?

      I have no idea why Pittsburgh would bring in Kesler? Malkin and Spezza as the top two centers and Suter is the perfect third line center.

      Chicago would make sense if Hossa came back the other way. Salary wise it would work for next season. They have Handzus listed as their center right now but he is an UFA so I think they’ll go their separate ways.

  8. UMBURGER and a 4th to the Flyers for Hartnel…Hextal gets out from a bad contract

    • And goes straight into a worse one.

      • Lol shorter at least

    • Still under a bad contract. Got two less years though which is good.

  9. Hartnell to Columbus, Columbus also sends a 4th round pick to Philly in 2015
    Umberger to Philly

  10. Ha Schticky, we must have seen the same report at the same time! lol

  11. Least Umberger has a cheaper buyout I should say…lol didnt think his contract was as bad, turns out almost is.

    • It’s not a very good deal for Phily in my opinion.. Hartnell is a much more useful played than Umberger and they have pretty much identical contracts.

      • Hartnell is the better player for sure, but both seem to be overpaid

      • Hartnell is probably the better player Id say Umberher is the more useful he can now slide in to play center (Hartnell couldnt) and allows Vinny to play wing. Is what kinda makes sense…still a bit of a stretch. Also less term, saves a bit of cap.

        • Does kinda make me wonder if B Schenn is moving, or if Laughton might move.

        • Columbus could have bought out Umberger but they ended up doing the right thing in trading for Hartnell, but I can’t see much point in the trade, I thought word on the street was that Vinny wanted out?

          • Lecavalier will be traded next. He is much like Hartnell, overpaid with a lengthy term (4 years left) and a slow skater. The writing is on the wall folks.

          • Cant see too many gms wanting Vinny with out the Flyers holding salary…not sure it wouldnt make more sense to try him on the wing get a little more production out of him to perhaps increase his value. Not a whole lot of sense trading him now.

          • They tried him at wing.

            They also tried him at center and back to wing again…

            He just doesn’t fit on the Flyers.

          • Well there ya have it B Schenn resigned…lol still think Hextall is up to something with all those centers, maybe Vinny does move.

  12. Of course Joe Thornton wants to stay in San Jose, he’s making almost $7 mil per year, and is under ZERO pressure to win, or perform come playoff time! His lame excuse of “if the fans want me to go, I’ll waive my no trade” is just that, LAME! He knows there’s not going to be some massive ground swell by the fans, in support of him leaving. The Sharks will be the same old story next season, good regular season, out in the first or second round of the playoffs. And by the time management realizes they need to do a complete rebuild, it’ll be too late, and they’ll get nothing for Thornton and Marleau.

    I really hope the Rangers don’t try and trade for Thornton. He’s not leaving, and he’d be terrible in New York, he can’t produce in high pressure environments, just look at his playoff stats, and Olympic stats. When the lights shine brightest, he disappears. I’d like to see the Rangers dump Nash, and go after Kesler. I think Kesler would be their best option if they’re looking for a number 1 center. He’s still fairly young, his current contract is affordable, and he plays a good two-way game.

    • Rangers won’t dump Nash. No one’s going to take on a $7.8 million cap hit for a player’s game that’s been declining over the last 4-5 seasons.

      • 26 goals in 65 games was on pace for close to 40 in the lockout regularly 30-40 goals…think you maybe jumping the gun could judt be an off year Im sure teams would have intrest in Rick Nash, the Rangers wont get back what they traded for him but still would get a good package of prospects and picks. His assists have gone down granted but I think even watching this years playoffs and a few other Rangers games I seen over the past couple years his all around game defensively has become much better. Big wingers like that, that put up 30 40 goals that are good in all 3 zones are not cheap and dont grow on trees. Of course they could deal him.