On the eve of NHL free agency, check out the latest on Jason Spezza, Christian Ehrhoff, Matt Niskanen, Ryan Miller, Vincent Lecavalier and more.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby expects Detroit “and a lot of Western teams” to pursue recently bought-out defenseman Christian Ehrhoff…If Jason Spezza’s trade options become limited this summer, perhaps a deal with Nashville can be resurrected…The Islanders have contacted former Rangers center Brad Richards…Matt Moulson’s two former teams (Sabres and Islanders) are pursuing him, as could the Senators…Milan Michalek could be eyeing a reunion with brother Zbynek with the Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Predators GM David Poile’s frurstrated reaction to Spezza’s rejecting a trade to Nashville, it’ll take some sweet-talking from the Spezza camp to resurrect that deal.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jason Botchford notes the Canucks interest in UFA goalie Ryan Miller, who’s in Vancouver and expected to meet with management today. He wonders, however, if investing some of their $18 million cap space in a veteran goalie is a wise decision when there’s gaping holes elsewhere in the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You build from the net out. Without quality goaltending it won’t matter how many more goals the Canucks score next season compared to this season. A tandem of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom hardly inspires confidence right now. And if they invest wisely in a veteran goalie, they will have enough cap space to address other needs.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators still have “serious options” with Jason Spezza. The St. Louis Blues could be a destination, though they’re also interested in UFA center Paul Stastny. The Dallas Stars could be another option. The Chicago Blackhawks could be a destination if they can sell the Senators on Patrick Sharp. He also suggests revisiting a deal with the Predators isn’t out of the question. Garrioch also reports the Senators will be in the market for forwards. He suggests free agent options like Matt Moulson and former Senators Martin Havlat, or perhaps trading a defenseman for a winger.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Spezza could be a serious option for the Stars now. The Senators could seek a return consisting of “Trevor Daley, Brenden Dillon or Alex Chiasson, along with a prospect and a draft pick.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch also suggested the Arizona Coyotes as a destination but that was before they acquired Sam Gagner in a three-way deal with the Lightning. I doubt Murray has interest in an ageing, brittle Havlat. Moulson could be an option though his lack of foot speed would be an issue. Unless Sharp is willing to accept a trade to Ottawa, a Sharp-for-Spezza swap won’t happen.
PHILLY.COM: Frank Seravalli reports the Flyers, who’ve granted permission to Vincent Lecavalier’s agent to seek trade options with other clubs, have been unsuccessful in their efforts to move him. That’s in part because Lecavalier is due a $2 million bonus on July 1. Another possibility is buying out recently-acquired R.J. Umberger, who’s earning $4.6 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted last year, there’s nothing in the CBA which prevents a team from buying out a player they acquired via trade. If the Flyers bought out Umberger, it won’t be considered cap circumvention as they acquired him well before the new NHL salary cap numbers were announced. It remains to be seen if they’ll got that route.
WASHINGTON POST/CSNWASHINGTON: The Capitals are setting their sights upon two soon-to-be former Penguins defensemen in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik via free agency. They could also have interest in Christian Ehrhoff, who was bought out yesterday by the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the Capitals could sign Niskanen, who’ll command top dollar starting tomorrow and will have numerous suitors, but Orpik could be a possibility. Adding either player would add some spice to future Capitals-Penguins games.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports the Lightning recently salary-dumping moves (Teddy Purcell, Sam Gagner, Nate Thompson) could put them in position to bid for UFA defensemen like “Matt Niskanen, Anton Stralman and former Lightning standout Dan Boyle”. They’ll also likely be in the market for an experienced backup for Ben Bishop.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is clearing the boards for a significant free-agent addition. We won’t have to wait long to find out who he’s pursuing.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Gary Lawless reports the Jets could return next season with pretty much the same core of players as they had this season. If so, that means significant improvement must come from “Goalie Ondrej Pavelec, defenceman Zach Bogosian and wingers Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien”. As for recent rumors of the Jets talking with the Toronto Maple Leafs about goalie James Reimer, Lawless notes the Jets have limited cap space (they’ll likely set their cap ceiling at $65 million) and a more affordable option in their system in Michael Hutchinson.
NBC SPORTS: cites a report from The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper claiming the Predators could move defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who they acquired in a midseason trade with the New York Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Del Zotto’s stock really tumbled this season, but he’s still young enough to attract interest from clubs seeking a puck-moving blueliner.
TSN1260′s Dustin Nielson reports via Twitter: “Flames are apparently very interested in Tom Gilbert. Not sure if they are front runner but are certainly in the mix.”