Latest on Loui Eriksson, Ryan Miller, Mike Ribeiro and Alexander Burmistrov, plus an update on the Phoenix Coyotes.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika recently reported Stars winger Loui Eriksson’s performance helping Sweden win gold at this year’s World Hockey Championships helped soften the blow of what was for him a bad NHL season. Heika acknowledged recent trade rumors involving Eriksson coming out of Canada, but pointed out the winger still has three years remaining on his contract with the Stars, while new Stars GM Jim Nill praised Eriksson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before regarding those Eriksson trade rumors, if the Stars did shop him for a first-line center, they’d leave themselves with little depth on the right side, apart from a fading Erik Cole and some unproven youngsters. I’ll be very surprised if Nill trades Eriksson this summer.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports the strong performance by Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth backstopping Sweden to gold at the Worlds could heighten expectations starter Ryan Miller might be dealt this summer. Enroth feels he’s ready for the starter’s role, but Vogl pointed out he must improve his consistency. Moving Miller would free up $6.25 million could be used to fill holes elsewhere in the roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Miller himself pointed out, just because there’s an expectation he could be dealt doesn’t mean it could happen, noting the Roberto Luongo situation in Vancouver. Miller doesn’t carry as hefty a contract for as long as Luongo, but as I noted in a recent THN.com column, it still could prove difficult finding suitable trade partners for him this summer. Enroth might have to wait another year, when Miller departs for sure via free agency next summer, to get his chance.
WASHINGTON POST: Katie Carrera examines the pros and cons if the Capitals re-sign center Mike Ribeiro.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For me, the biggest con is his contract would eat up most, if not all, of the Capitals remaining cap space, leaving almost nothing to re-sign Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson and Matt Hendricks. Conversely, if they re-sign those three, they’ll have nothing left for Ribeiro. One way or the other, the Capitals must shed salary this summer.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe weighs in on a recent report claiming RFA forward Alexander Burmistrov doesn’t want to re-sign with the Jets, suggesting a change of scenery might do him good.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe also noted rumors near the trade deadline which had Burmistrov linked to Buffalo’s Drew Stafford. Again, I believe if the Jets are serious about pursuing Stafford, the Sabres could accept Burmistrov in return.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Sarah McLellan examines how Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney could improve his club if he’s once again stuck with a limited budget. She suggests if they re-sign RFAs Mikkel Boedker and Lauri Korpikoski and UFA center Boyd Gordon, it could leave around $5.75 million to re-sign Mike Smith and add a backup. If Smith walks and Maloney opts for cheaper goaltending, there might not be enough to lure a top-six forward via free agency, though she guesses it might be enough to lure in Toronto’s Tyler Bozak, New Jersey’s David Clarkson or Montreal’s Michael Ryder, but not Washington’s Mike Ribeiro, Boston’s Nathan Horton or Detroit’s Valtteri Filppula. She expects Maloney could shop defenseman Keith Yandle to free up cap space ($5.25 million).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I were Maloney, I’d avoid the UFA market and shop Yandle for a return to bolster my scoring depth, re-sign those players McLellan noted and hope to have enough cap space to re-sign Mike Smith. The best option would be if the Coyotes can get a new owner by June willing to spend a bit more to retain Smith and add a scorer. I don’t expect the Coyotes will be able to lure Clarkson or Ribeiro, Horton’s injury history is a concern, and Filppula hasn’t done enough to justify $5 million per season. The Leafs might re-sign Bozak, but Ryder should be available.