NHL Morning Rumor Mill – May 15, 2014

The latest on the Penguins, Wild, Bruins, Leafs, Stars and Blues.

Could the Penguins shop Kris Letang this summer?

Could the Penguins shop Kris Letang?

TRIBLIVE.COM/POST-GAZETTE.COM: In the wake of yet another early playoff exit by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rob Rossi and Dejan Kovacevic report sweeping changes could be coming to the Penguins front office and coaching staff. They also believe Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will return but there could be some new faces in the Penguins lineup next season. Josh Yohe believes the Penguins’ roster needs to get younger. Dave Molinari also speculates GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma could be in danger of losing their jobs.

NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough believes now is the time for the Penguins to explore trading defenseman Kris Letang. While acknowledging Letang’s health issues (which most recently included a heart condition that sidelined him for several weeks) and poor defensive play, Brough points out Letang still logged over 25 minutes per game and only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson had more points-per-game, plus there’s a need for defensemen with righthanded shots around the league. He also noted Letang is about to start an eight-year, $58 million contract, plus the Penguins have two blue chip youngsters in rookie Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jason Botchford speculates the Penguins’ playoff collapse could take them out of the running for the services of Canucks’ center Ryan Kesler, who was linked to the Penguins leading up to the March trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the Penguins return with the same coaching staff next season. It remains to be seen what happens with Shero, who stood by Bylsma last summer. As for roster changes, unless Crosby and Malkin demand to be dealt, they’re not going anywhere. It’s foolish to trade them. They’re the players you rebuild around. I’ll be surprised if they trade or buy out Marc-Andre Fleury. He only has one year left on his contract so it might be wiser to look at adding a promising young goalie for a possible transition if Fleury doesn’t fit into their plans beyond next season. If they do move Fleury, they’ll need a suitable replacement, and there’s not much available via free agency or trade.

Letang’s health issues and big contract significantly hurts his trade value. He also has a limited no-trade clause (listing 12 teams he won’t accept being dealt to), which narrows the list of potential trade destinations. If the Penguins can find a trade partner they won’t get equal value, and they’ll certainly have to pick up part of his salary.  They might have an easier time trying to move players like James and Chris Kunitz (who also have limited NTCs but carry more affordable contracts) or defenseman Paul Martin (another with a limited NTC but only one year left on his contract). It depends, of course, on whether the Penguins management (be it Shero or someone else) wants to tinker or conduct a serious rebuild.

STARTRIBUNE.COM/TWINCITIES.COM: Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild GM Mike Yeo must address his club’s goaltending situation. He recommends trying to trade backup Niklas Backstrom, even if it means picking up part of his salary, though he acknowledged that won’t be easy to do given Backstrom’s age and injury history. Josh Harding’s health issues also complicates the picture. Darcy Kuemper is a restricted free agent but will be re-signed to a one-way deal.  Fletcher must also decide if it’s worthwhile to pursue a UFA scorer like Thomas Vanek while still leaving enough cap space to re-sign his young RFAs. Chad Graff echoes much of Russo’s speculation, while Charley Walters  believes the Wild will pursue Vanek via free agency in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe the Wild will pursue Vanek, but after watching the winger’s playoff performance with Montreal, I say be careful what you wish for, Wild fans. Yes, they could use an experienced top-six winger but  sorting out the goalie issue and re-signing those young RFAs are the priorities. 

THE GLOBE & MAIL/TORONTO SUN: James Mirtle reports Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan doesn’t want to tear down and rebuild the roster. Shanahan also sounds as though he’d prefer retaining defenseman Dion Phaneuf as team captain. Mike Zeisberger reports Shanahan wants to bring back center Dave Bolland, though he acknowledged there are factors involved in attempting to re-sign the pending UFA, who is rumored seeking a multi-year deal worth $5 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Phaneuf trade chatter from earlier this week no longer seems quite as likely. I’m sure Shanahan wants to retain Bolland to a more sensible deal, but if the Bolland camp won’t move off their salary demands, they’ll part ways. 

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes Jarome Iginla would be a worthwhile re-signing for the Bruins, who must also re-sign pending RFA Torey Krug.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Bruins limited cap space, retaining Iginla won’t be easy. I expect they’ll re-sign Krug to a two- or three-year bridge contract. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika examines several possible options for the Stars in their off-season pursuit of a second-line center. Jason Spezza, Paul Stastny and Ryan Kesler could be among them, along with long-shots like Carolina’s Eric Staal and Jordan Staal. UFA candidates could include Mikhail Grabovski, or if they promote Cody Eakin to the second line, third line options could include Vern Fiddler, David Legwand, Steve Ott and Jay McClement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza and Kesler with their no-trade clauses would have to agree to be dealt to Dallas. Stastny could be an expensive signing as there could be a bidding war for his services. I don’t see the Staal brothers being available. If Grabovski hits the market he could be a worthwhile signing. 

STLTODAY.COM: Blues backup Brian Elliott is uncertain about his future. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Blues have already stated they’ll promote Jake Allen next season, and they’ll have to decide if they’ll re-sign Elliott or Ryan Miller, or bring in another goalie.

60 Comments

  1. I can’t imagine much of a market for Letang. This guy didn’t suffer a concussion or a broken leg, he suffered a stroke at a young age. His deal is ridiculous both in length and $$$’s. People are always bashing on the Phaneuf deal, but this deal is no better and probably worse imo. But then again, I have an aversion toward most offensive d-men in the 1st place.

    • Definitely wouldn’t look at him considering that stroke. But if he can make a good comeback next year I can see people making a call. Letang still capable of 50+ points a season only sticking would be that stroke as you’ve stated. He can easily be up there with Karlsson points wise but his defense is not so great.

      • Yeah, his health is the main concern. And I agree he can put up 50 if he stays healthy. My 2nd concern is put him on another team without that kind of fire power up front and he will be on the ice for as many points against as he is putting up numbers himself. Again, this all goes back to my complete lack of respect and distaste for offensive defense men.

      • Seriously people a player of Letang’s age and ability is ALWAYS in demand. His price tag is NOT going to scare anyone off. Look at who these teams are signing and for how much and then ask yourself why would they not take a run at Letang.
        The stroke issue has been dealt with or he would not have been playing in the playoffs.
        I can name half of the teams in the league that would love to get him on their blueline so lets give him his due.
        Too bad the Pens only have 12 teams with which to make a deal because they have depth at that position.

        • doesn’t the 12 team thing not take effect until sometime this summer?

        • “The stroke issue has been dealt with or he would not have been playing in the playoffs.”…..uhhhhhh a stroke is something that goes away like a cut?…………”There was no definitive diagnosis that PFO caused the stroke. According to the Trib’s Josh Yohe, Letang doesn’t intend to have surgery to correct the hole, noting that doctors believe there’s a good chance he will play hockey again.”……That means….the problem is still there!

          • “I can name half of the teams in the league that would love to get him on their blueline so lets give him his due.” ….in other words you can speculate teams that may or may not want him….? I guess I could too, however I doubt that any of them are correct…..The Pens have “depth at that position” Really? Someone should tell Pittsburgh that!

  2. As a Habs fan, I can’t help but wonder if Vanek’s uninspiring play is based on him being not willing to take the almost-inevitable playoff injuries so that he doesn’t risk his huge payday this summer, whoever he signs with.

    While that reason certainly wouldn’t enhance his value, I could see a team not worrying about this year’s playoff performance when signing him (at least not worrying about it for the first 5.5 years of his upcoming 6-year contract)

    • From a Sabres fan he tends to disappear and not care once in awhile. From what I’ve seen from him anyway. I’m sure he will get paid unless it’s a huge injury.

  3. Letang stays. He is overpaid now and the pens are stuck with him. I wanted them to deal him before this season. Rumor has it that Shero had a deal in place but management thought he was too marketable to trade.That is why I dont think Shero gets the hook. Management pushed to keep players like Letang and Iginla when he didnt want them. Pens stuck at goalie too. Who would you get that would do better? Pens enjoy giving up odd man rushes all the time and fleury is fairly strong on the breakaway and shootout.

    The Wild need to improve defense and goaltending first. Vanek isnt a need and if Habs win the cup. I could see Montreal throwing some money at him.

    I think if one staal moves they both move in a blockbuster. That is why Jordan went there is to play with Eric.

    If Vanek doesnt land in Minny then I could see him fall to the Stars. Jamie Benn then would be the second line center.

    I expect the Bruins to deal Lucic or Marchand. Both make too much. Not to mention their stock is all high. But they are both classy individuals and we all know how Boston loves the classy people.

    • If the Habs win the cup they will be too busy throwing money at Subban, there will be none for Vanek. Still really early but Subban with a Norris, Cup and possible Con Smythe (have to figure IF its a big if hed be in the running) on the resume coming off the bridge deal? Cha Ching!

      • Shtick do you think he will get Weber type contract?

    • I hope when you said that Lucic was a “gentleman”, you were not serious….the guy has has shown his classes disregard for others on numerous occasions. Good player, crappy human being….

      • classless…

      • milan lucic is to class what justin bieber is to class. They are in a league of their own.

    • Benn is twice the player Vanek is. Younger, smarted, and a better all around player.

      Can’t see the Stars bumping their captain, and leader who has great chemistry with Seguin to the second line.

      Vanek is a winger isn’t he?

    • Malkin and Letang for the Staal Brothers.
      Discuss among yourselfs

      • ….yourselves. (oops)

        • I doubt the Pens take Jordan back at that price, and I wonder if Jordan would want to come back.

  4. Maybe Vanek was a little intimidated by thr Bruins style?..see how he responds to the Rangers, not so sure Id say hes had a bad playoff so I agree not sure this years playoffs have too much of a negative effect on his value. Vanek has always had periods or games where he seems to disappear.

  5. Shanahan is now saying what I had posted a few days ago, that it is more likely that they try to add pieces to compliment and take pressure off Phaneuf rather than trade him. Removing the C would relieve pressure, but unless they traded him it would be the kiss of death in the room. It worked in SanJose because Marleau never really wantedthe Captaincy anyway, but Phaneuf is too intense and proud, and it would cause more bad than good. I can see Shanahan working really hard to ensure Bolland resigns and expect he will get between 4.25 and 4.75 long term and a permanent “A” on his jersey. I also see Clarkson getting a permanent “A” on his jersey. McClement and Lupul will lose theirs, and I would not be surprised to see Lupul traded. I think Shanahans idea will be to support and mentor Phaneuf with 2 Stanley cup winning leaders who have character, but admittedly poor seasons last year.

    • Anything over 4 let Bolland walk

      • Agreed, Bolland is great but I think future injury is now a legitimate concern.

      • Very much agreed.
        Great addition but Leafs can’t box themselves in.

  6. I think if you’re onto something with the canes. They’re going to do a shake up of sorts but I’m not sure if it would be both Staal brothers moving. I do agree though, if they move Eric, Jordan is going too. Probably to the same team. Would be a nice 1-2 center pick up for a team. The Canes would want to get younger with the trade so they can build with Skinner, Faulk and company. Also they need a goalie in return unless they want to ride it out with Kudobin. Ward is on the way out of town fast for whoever would take him.

    Vanek will get a 6m pay out but it wont be right on July 1st. He will try to go for north of 7 and no team will bite. If anywhere I think he might be NJ bound with the rest of the spare parts in the NHL. NJ is the island of the lost toys of the NHL.

    I could see the leafs trading Kadri. If Spezza would go to Toronto, I would see Kadri as part of the return. Murray has always wanted Kadri, ever since draft day.

  7. Boston moved playoff non-performers last year(Seguin-Peverley)
    Let’s see what they do this year. Marchand and Krejci didn’t do much.
    Smith and Erickson didn’t do much more than Seguin could’ve done.
    Defense needs a upgrade and Boston did nothing at the trade deadline.
    Was hoping they would’ve gone for it this year. A top six forward and tough d-man would’ve helped.

  8. No way Dan Bylsma survives this. It’s clear he’s lost the team. The finger should also point to Crosby and Malkin, but they ain’t going anywhere. (Although Glen Sather once said that if Crosby ever hit the market, he’d make an offer which could include, and I quote, his “left nut.”) I think it’s 50-50 on whether or not Shero returns. If it were me, I’d fire him and start clean.

    And I’ve been saying for YEARS that Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t going to win that team any more Stanley Cups. He’s the streakiest playoff goaltender I can remember. I doubt they’ll buy him out, but I think they cut him loose when their contract’s up, providing they can get a replacement for him.

    • Shero has earned the right to remain. Anyone else can go.

  9. As a Wild fan I don’t much care if Vanek is in the plans or not, we have enough core veterns in Parise, Pominville, Koivu etc and some pretty good youngsters (Granlund, Nino, Haula etc) paving their way into regular spots in the lineup.

    I would like to see our goaltending issue addressed first, defense 2nd and forwards 3rd.

    Players possibly not returning: Heatley, Harding, Bryzgolov, Brodziak, Ballard and Proesser, maybe Stoner.

    Possible trade bait: Zucker and Fontaine + whatever players the draft gets us.

    I’m not good at fine tuning trade/draft pick/salary cap stuff like some of the experts on here so I’ll leave that up to them!

    The Wild had a good playoff run that could have ended differently if we hadn’t had bad luck with our goaltending. Oh well, next year will hopefully be better.

    • Unless Harding is bought out he isn’t going anywhere for another 3 yrs. if he’s still having ms issues and can’t play hell just be put on ltir and it not count against the cap. If vanek signs with minny, his contract will just replace Heatlys current salary. I can’t see them letting Brodziak walk after next season and they won’t just give him away. Minny might have to let Kuemper take the reigns in net. Minny was sitting at 63mil in salary cap this year, cap geek projects their cap next season at 48m if no players are resigned, or traded. Why don’t you like stoner?

      • @AHTL, I like Stoner, I was just mentioning players that may or may not return to the line up.
        Hope Hards is able to play, he’s well liked here.
        Brodziak is one of the best 4th line centers IMO, and your right, if they decide he doesn’t fit in anymore they won’t give him away.

        • Unfortunately, I can’t see Harding coming back on any level. My best friend was diagnosed with MS about 5 years ago. It is an extremely debilitating disease and can only be controlled (possibly), not cured. He will never get any better than he is today.

          • NY4L
            Your probably right, I’m still hoping for at least 1 more season, but he’ll end up on LTIR.

  10. I wouldn’t be so quick to move letang. He is great offensively and with time, hopefully his health gets back into order. He needs a good defensive dman to play with him. Much like guys like pk and karlson, he needs a solid player behind him to make up for his mistakes. I suggest a guy like Gleason etc to stay back and prop him up a bit. I hate the habs but I really do hope hey resign vanek. He is everything they need. Size on he wing who is purely offensive.
    As for dion. What do you guys think he leafs could get for him? I would love to see the leafs get rid of him. A first and a prospect? Shanny says he doesn’t want to rebuild and I understand that but you have to think if they plan on stripping him of the “c” they have to move him. No way he would survive in Toronto after that.

    • how about Lupul, Gardiner and something for Letang? Letang and Dion as a top pairing might be fun to watch. Crosby gets his winger (when healthy) is pretty darn good.

  11. Thunder, I understand what you’re saying. Thing is Heatley and Moulson come off your payroll which gives you room to sign Vanek. Its just kind of been a given that the Wild is where he wants to end up – so I don’t think he’ll be asking for the world. But Vanek would be more than a suitable replacement for Heatley and Moulson ($10+M to work with). IMO the Wild need to sign a goalie that will share duties with Kuemper, perhaps sign someone like Elliot or Gustavsson. I don’t see them needing someone like Miller or Hiller, a starter – but more along the lines of backup or shared duty.

    • Steve, I’m not so sure Heatley is entirely out of the picture but I hope he is! Moulson is gone and yes the Wild would need to fill that void, Vanek would be a good addition for sure, I would like to see him play a little better in the next round of the playoffs but like another poster said, that probably won’t be a big deal to whomever sighs him.

      I heard the possibility of trying to trade Backstrom, good luck with that! Kuemper is the guy and a nice backup would be great, I think Elliot would be a good fit, although Hiller would be good too, we’ll see.

  12. As to Dave’s comment above, my hunch is Marchand goes. He’s an extremely valuable player, but also an extremely tiresome one. I can’t imagine good, clean players like Bergeron actually respect all of what Marchand does on the ice. Some of them might even not be sad to see Marchand gone.

    He had a horrible playoffs: 0 goals, a HUGE amount of neutral-ice turnovers against the Habs, and a bunch of dumb penalties to boot (without drawing that many). All that said, he’d still have huge trade value and getting his $4.5M cap hit off their books would help the Bruins a lot for next year.

    [Sorry this isn't on one of the stories listed above, it just seemed to fit in the Rumours section... and wasn't an out-of-nowhere Leafs thread for once! lol]

    • Brad merchant and lucic might be terrible people, but their really good players. Trading either guy could destroy the team chemistry.

      • I wouldn’t mind having either player on the Wild, but Lucic is crazy tough and fearless, we need a guy like that.

      • who is Brad merchant?

        • Who is EdVanImpe???

  13. On The Penguins

    My guess is Ray Shero is going to be given another year and he is going to feel the pressure to win. He is going to try and go big in UFA. My guess is that Lee Stepniak, Jussi Jokinen, Tanner Glass, Taylor Pyatt, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Thomas Vokoun all walk via UFA ($15.25 million). Sutter & Goc are likely signed back at similar contracts to what they are making now.

    If possible the Penguins will see if they can find a deal for Paul Martin to free up some additional space, but likely ends up being the only trade they make (other than maybe doing some rights deals). Both Pouliot and Dumoulin are promoted to the pro’s next year to create a younger blueline.

    Penguins sign F Matt Moulson, F Nikolai Kulemin, G Chad Johnson, and D Mark Fayne during the UFA period (maybe some other depth pieces). Not saying that I think this will make the Penguins better (or even if these are the exact people, but players LIKE them). Just my gut feeling on what Ray Shero is going to do.

  14. Kulemin’s a possibility. Moulson, not so much. The Pens need to get younger and signing Moulson contradicts that. Reports are that Shero’s been spared. He would do best to kick the tires w/ fringe playoff teams. They’re going to be his best bet to on getting a good return on Letang and Neal, possibly even MAF if that’s the route they go.

    • Shero needs to go, he is clueless on building a TEAM …

      • ……..yeah him and 29 other GMs each year Ed.

    • send MAF to Minn for ??

      ideas?

      • IHC,

        I think the feeling here is that Kuemper will be the starting goalie with Backstrom being the mentor(I hate Backstrom, he’s done), but IF the Pens would trade him and I’m not sure what their needs are, but MAF and Kuemper could share the duties in net.

        How about Zucker and Fontaine + the Wild’s first?

        Let the bashing rage on!

  15. If ever Crosby wants out, he would ask for a trade to the Habs. Its always been his dream of playing with the HABS.

  16. BTW, Congrats to the Habs and their fans! Great game last night.

    • The Habs have “THE COOLEST” light show before the game I’ve ever seen, great job!

  17. Bruins are not going to trade Looch or Marcgand I’m sure Loui is. A goner

  18. Meant to say Marchand little buttons on my phone lol

  19. The Bruins looked tired and old by the end of that series. They seriously need to look at integrating younger talent into their top 6 forward and top 4 dmen, more so young players with not so many recently games played miles.

    The Bruins play a tough style and make it at least a couple rounds in the playoffs every year and many of their players play large roles for their international teams.

  20. My God I just read this and I cannot believe Shanahan is keeping this Team potentially entact and especially this “captain” …I have watched and Be”Leafed” for 40+ years and if this is true I’m done with the BS in Toronto…. LOL as if anyone cares…..

    • What did you expect from this guy? He was a glorified Referee behind a video screen for years. How does that qualify him to be the President of any NHL let alone a fanatical market like Toronto???
      Toronto strives to win the press conference wars. Shanahan provided for that.
      So many experienced hockey minds out there and we chose Shanny?? Great player but beyond that what does it bring to the table for the here and now?? He has multi-levels of hockey men working for him that have years more experience than he does. Do you really think that promotes a cohesive working environment? NOPE.
      Tim Leiweke is a joke and his little P.R. moves will not serve to better the team except in the area of headlines.
      Think I’m kidding? Watch the naming of the Assistant Coaches. Paging Doug Gilmour.
      Then we will hear after every loss how close Dougie is to taking Carlyle’s job next year, and the circus rolls on.

      • Excellent post Lou. Bang on…

        • Ya 4 weeks into a job like that he should have fixed everything by now. Lol I admit Carlyle should have been fired probably Nonis and the bous aswell but, joining the team after the sseason not seeing how things are unfolding first hand and just making snap decisions based on second hand or media information is probably not a great way to bring around any kind of sustainable success. I think there is much more wrong or at least there is much more to building this team to be a success than people think (scouting drafting pilosiphy player development etc) Id rather someone came in sat back took it all in then went about building from there and finnaly got it right.
          No saying Shanny is going to be the one to get it right we will have to wait and see, but writting him off as a glorifed referee is dumb.

      • Harold Ballard once said..” why should I fill the place with Cadillac’s if I can sell out the place with Volkswagen’s.” ..Reality is, this belief is still in place today; and until the average fan stops supporting this team, the hiring of Shanny and others is just damage control.

  21. Bruins core are in there prime they have to do nothing right now. Lucic is the best power forward in the game and if you think he is only guy to say something in hand shake line your crazy. Iggy looked slow to me they may not sign him and even though Thornton is a great 4th line player he may be done also. Time to bring up Chevy and Spooner as they are studs. Svedberg will back up Rask and Bruins will be fine. With Kelly and Seids back all is good.