NHL Morning Rumor Mill – May 24, 2013.

Get the latest on Brad Richards, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ray Emery, and Ryan O’Reilly.

Could Brad Richards become a compliance buyout candidate?

Could Brad Richards become a compliance buyout candidate?

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Jason Brough listed three reasons why the NY Rangers should use their remaining compliance buyout on Brad Richards, who was a healthy scratch in Game Four of the Rangers-Bruins series. Brough believes the Rangers could use the cap space, noted they now have Derick Brassard  and Richards best years are behind him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All good reasons to buy out Richards, but one also wonders if GM Glen Sather might consider coach John Tortorella the problem and replace him instead, hoping a new coaching style might improve Richards’ performance. 

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance recently examined how playoff performance could impact this summer’s goalie market. He noted Marc-Andre Fleury being replaced in the Penguins goal by Tomas Vokoun, raising the suggestion of the Penguins trading Fleury and going with Vokoun and an up-and-coming goalie next season, but also noted such a move could upset the Penguins tight team chemistry.

Custance also wondered if Ray Emery might replace Corey Crawford in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in their series against the Detroit Red Wings, and how it could bolster Emery’s free agent value this summer. He suggests Emery could be a good fit with the NY Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes and Minnesota Wild (if they lose Mike Smith and Niklas Backstrom to free agency) or the Buffalo Sabres (if they trade Ryan Miller).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the Penguins give up on Fleury even if Vokoun plays through the remainder of this year’s playoffs, but if he struggles again next year, the possibility of trade or compliance buyout next summer becomes stronger. Emery’s free agent value will already be high this summer, though there will be lingering concerns over his surgically repaired hip. Still, if the Blackhawks fail to re-sign Emery, he’ll have little difficulty finding a new team.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman recently reported Colorado Avalanche VP of hockey operations Joe Sakic sees Ryan O’Reilly as a long-term part of his club’s future. O’Reilly signed a two-year offer sheet from the Calgary Flames which the Avs matched, sparking speculation he could be dealt next February 28, one year from the date the Avs matched the offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had there been no significant front office changes for the Avalanche this off-season, I would’ve expected O’Reilly to be a goner next March. With Sakic and new coach and co-VP of hockey ops Patrick Roy running the show, O’Reilly could have a future with the Avs after all. 


  1. It seems like yesterday when Richards was the prize plum of UFA crop with NHL team audiences being set up for the to pitch reasons & salary to Richards negotiating team for the privilege having him “change” their franchise. Think about why teams may be better off drafting well and staying inside their organizations for improvement, and avoiding the overpays that UFA ALWAYS are.
    Brad is a great complimentary player and excellent second line centre who knew when he signed that he was gonna to be under scrutiny with each loss. You have the wonde rhow hurt he is at this point too. I suggest that all the frenzied fans around the continent who get pulled into the way the media has pumped June 1st and the start free agent signing day. Watch what you ask for…and don’t be surprised if the move is just a band-aid.

    • Richards hasn’t performed as planned, this ROI has been next to nil and whether it is due to not being 100% or Tort’s coaching style really doesn’t matter – the bottom line is that he is that he takes up $6.6M a year. Rangers need to resign Stepan, McDonagh, Gilroy, Zuccarello, Hagelin and Clowe. To me, the Rangers need to really evaluate Tort’s coaching style and determine if it is as effective as it could be – it could be time for a change and there are a lot of good candidates available.

      • Actually, Richards paid for his contract last season, when the Rangers went to the Final four. Those 11 or 12 home games WERE his ROI.
        This year is a shortened season, an aberration. Remember, Richards stuck around and was involved in the Lockout talks, so he’s been a step behind all year. MANY who helped in the negotiations have struggled.
        Next year, no matter where he is, he’ll bounce back BIG time. I’ve expected all year he’ll be bought out, because as you pointed out, the Ranger’s core youth are all coming up for new contracts in the next 3 years. They need the room.

    • That’s what I like about the Islanders with their dedication to their rebuild. They have learned their lesson about over-priced free agents… slow and steady wins the race!

  2. I don’t think that the Colorado franchise can make thinks right by trading away a player Greg Sherman decided should be paid far more than he ever offered him. They live with it. That contract BECOMES part of reason why you can’t just trade him, unless you take lesser-lights and choices.
    Patrick Roy you all remember was a great goaltender.
    Since then he has reinvented himself as a Quebec junior league coach.
    My understanding is that the deal that Roy is brokering with the Avs and Sherman is one where he gets final say on any and all personal decisions in his starting line-ups, and final major league roster.
    I would also think this trickles down to the type of players he will want drafted too.

    Translated, this would mean that the Colorado organization was hiring Roy as a bit more than a coach…and in many ways deferring decisions that before were GM Sherman’s to make, in unison with the coaching staff. You have to wonder if this leads to the eventual firing of Sherman, who mishandled the O’Reilly resign.

    Patrick Roy has, over the course of his junior stint as both GM and coach of the Quebec Remparts junior, mad it more about himself than the players. I just say in my humble opinion, you might not want him running the whole show.

    Another interesting side to hiring Roy with his contract unique personal override will be the Colorado selection overall in the NHL Entry Draft.
    I think everyone has been made aware of how defenseman Seth Jones was raised and hockey bred in the Denver area, and how he is talented enough to be selected first overall. (Even I have him first on my DraftSite.com mock draft.)
    And please take in consideration I am no rookie to evaluation talent or knowing the history of the guys drafted first overall. I can only think one defenseman picked in the top TWO who was able to warrant a selection there, and that was Chris Pronger in 1993. (I could go far past and also argue for Denis Potvin in 1973…) All other defenders picked early never reached the high expectations that were expected to. They can come with can’t miss tags and ooze with offensive upside, but the bottom line is the NHL coaches expect them to learn and play the defensive part of the game before eany coach gives them the green to go all in on “o”.

    But with the Avs choosing first overall there have to be discussions in regards the other two top players Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.
    It is easy to say there is a need on defense.
    But these tow kids display dynamic offense upside and you can never have too much of that.
    Here’s the rub:
    Both MacKinnon and Drouin play in the very QMJHL that Patrick Roy coached in. He nows first hand how skilled they are, and you have to think that this may be the first use of the “higher powers” he is being granted by the Colorado.
    I am gonna bet you a nickel he puts up a fuss and gets his way and MacKinnon.
    Mcakinnon can slide into different positions and help make the other Avalanche forwrads more threatening…very quickly.

    • Drew Doughty second overall ,, pretty good pick, 4 of the top 5 players that year were on D and other then Luke Schenn I think they have been as advertised.

      1 Tampa Bay Steven Stamkos
      2 Los Angeles Drew Doughty
      3 Atlanta Zach Bogosian
      4 St. Louis Alex Pietrangelo
      5 Toronto Luke Schenn

      • That’s really pretty much a load of crap when you take the number of forwards needed to ice a team compared to the number of d…many good D have gone in the first round in the top 10 picks how bout Brian Leetch , Needermayer Hatcher Jay Bo.and many other guys who don’t oooze offensive talent but do their job quite well and play D. guys that if you look back over their draft class you would probably take first overall in hindsight, just because forwards are taken more often then D. Does not always or even usually mean anything especially that defenceman don’t “warrant” going first overall….jeesh Its a draft of young talent one could also say there has been more forwards that were drafted first or second overall that were busts and probably didn’t “warrant” being picked that high….

        • Paul Coffee or Doug Wickehiser? Who warrants going first overall now?

      • @ Dino

        I would add that Luke Schenn came billed as a shut down defenseman. He wasn’t known for his offense. It takes longer for shut down defensemen to develop. I think if we re-evaluate Schenn in 10 years, we may have a very different opinion.

        • He has already been in the league for 5 years. There should be improvement in his play by now.

    • 1. ROR will make $6.5M next season & here’s the situation as I understand it: a qualifying offer will require a $6.5M minimum, but that’s only for one year. ROR can be signed for a lower average salary if the contract has a longer term. If Sakic likes ROR (as I do) expect him to get a three-to-five year extension.

      2. Roy’s second title is VP of Hockey Operations. Sakic is the Executive VP of Hockey Operations. Sakic has the final say, as Pierre Lacroix previously did.

      3. Greg Sherman was GM only in title; Lacroix had the final say. Sherman’s job was figurehead and paper-pusher.

      4. We have a plethora of smaller, skilled forwards. We have a glaring need on defense. Jones’ Denver connections make him a great story. The Avs take Seth Jones, period.

  3. If NYR lost last night’s game Tortorella would’ve been fired within a week, since they won, benching RIchards now appears to have been a smart move.
    However, I agree that Torts would be let go before Richards is, besides why would you buy him out when teams would still be willing to trade for him? (Big centres are always in demand). Heck I’m sure Toronto would be willing to take a chance, Bozak for Richards? Any where, any time.
    I find the goalie speculation a little ludicrous. As far as Fleury is concerned, it’s common knowledge that a goalie does not reach his prime until he hits his 30’s (in his case another 2 years of developing and refining his game) this was the same goofy talk coming out of Montreal on Carey Price (25 yrs old). I sincerely doubt either are on their way down and feel they’ll bounce back soon enough.
    In Chicago, although I do agree that there are better goalies to be had than Crawford, I don’t think Emery is the answer. If the Blackhawks decide to upgrade, they’ll make sure that’s exactly what it is, an upgrade (Miller?). This year off-season will be a very interesting one with lots of talent and an extra hard squeeze on the cap limit.

  4. The Rangers will buy out Richards and fire Tortorella. Careful what you wish for.

    • BC, I agree with Honest Rob that Richards got a late start this year because he was involved in the talks versus playing over in Europe. Torts is an emotional coach and his style doesn’t really allow for a player to work himself out of a funk – I think Lindy is more patient in that regard. Instead Torts put Richards on the 4th line and cut his minutes down – not really the type of skilled players needed to compliment his style. I do believe Torts would have been fired if the Rangers ended their season the other night – and I still believe that will happen if they lose today. The other night, the ice was tilted and it just seemed there were more penalties called on Boston. Personally, I hope they do buy out Richards as I would love to see him go to the Islanders – give them leadership and another skilled center.

  5. @Bill Placzek

    I respectfully disagree with your comment and Ill take that nickel bet. I think its a no brainer the Avs take Jones 1st overall as he is the best player avalible and would look pretty good next to another 1st overall pick in Eric Johnson. Now I agree Eric and some of his other fellow top 3 pick defenceman have not lived up to expectation, but thats not saying hes not a good D-man as he is always a leader in blocked shots and is a very sterdy defensive defencemen. I watched both MacKinnon and Jones play in the WJC and Jones was visible every time he was on the ice, where as MacKinnon dissapered for most of it. This is a super deep draft and Im sure none of the teams with a top 3 pick will be dissapointed(hell it looks like pretty much anybody with a 1st rounder will walk away with a quality player). But Jones is a special Defenceman who to me looks like he could be the next Chris Pronger, and with his Colorodo connections is a sinch to be taken 1st overall. Also I think you may have forgot about a young man named Drew Doughty, who at 23 has a combined 184 pts in only 4 1/2 seasons including 16 pts in 20 games to help the Kings hoist the cup. I dare say he was well worth the No 2 selection. I see MacKinnon turning into John Tavares and Drouin turning into Claude Giroux but I still say Jones is the best player avalible and as I said earlier will take that nickel bet.. Hell ill raise you a million.

    • I agree for the marketing purposes alone, Jones should be the no-brainer pick for Colorado.
      However, I disagree with your assessment of MacKinnon. It wasn’t that he disappeared in the WJC, it was that he was never on the ice. I think the stat was he averaged around 8:00 per game. Tough to stand out when you play 4th line minutes, and thats on the coach.
      If you look at the Memorial Cup going on now, he’s got 8 points in 3 games, not really disappearing now.

      • +1

  6. How does the compliance buyout work? each team gets two and they do not count against the future cap? Do they have to be used this year?

    • Yes. They each get 2 and they do not count against the cap. They could be used before this season (Redden, Gomez), or at the end of this season or next.

  7. @ Bill Placzek

    I agree with your assessment of Roy. If you look at the titles, a coach reports to the GM who reports to the VP Hockey Operations. So Roy reports to Sherman, who reports to Roy. Obviously they have left Sherman in place to deal with the nuts and bolts day to day business of being a GM, much like an assistant GM, without having him lose face and title. Roy wants to call the shots on players from a talent point of view. So to be “accountable” at both ends of the spectrum he had better hope things go well under his direction.

    As for Jones, I respectfully disagree, partly because of what Tristan argues. Colorado is weaker on the back end than they are up front. They have some good 2 way forwards such as O’Reilly and Landeskog, and they have Duchene and others who can score. Besides its a deep draft and they could still get a decent forward at 31st pick. What they really need to shore up for the future is defense, and should draft Jones, and until he is ready try to bolster with more seasoned journeymen guys and some some of their own prospects via trade. Maybe they use Stastny to trade for this, or go the UFA route. A younger puck moving defenseman ? I would not be surprised to see a move for a new starting goalie. I am sure Roy has some opinions and ideas on who he would like to see until Calvin Pickard is ready. Maybe Jaroslav Halak?

    • I don’t think you give up on Varlamov. He and JSG have a good relationship. Varly is still young & has shown he has an elite skill set. What he needs is improved consistency and mental focus. Roy alone will help with this. Hiring a full time goalie coach is a great idea too. Our last goalie coach, Kirk Maclean, was part-time. Honestly, KM was a standup netminder & I didn’t have a lot of confidence in him as coach. Varlamov has also overcome injury struggles that hurt him in years past by improving his strength and conditioning. IMO, you give him this year, under improved coaching, to develop and then re-evaluate in the summer.

    • As for Stastny, he’s gonna be in a contract year and you might see increased effort and improved production. It might be a good idea to keep him around at least to the trade deadline. One deal I would make right now is to PHX for Yandle. Apparently PHX is looking for two top-six forwards for Yandle. If we offer Stastny and Jones, we may be able to get that deal done by eating $4M of Jones’ remaining $12M. PHX would be getting Stastny in a contract year plus Jones at $8M over three years, less than Vrbata. I expect Jones would be motivated to bounce back after a disastrous year in which he was injured for some of it. We can afford, this year only, to eat salary to improve the team. I’m just not sure what Stastny will require for salary on his next contract, but, with a productive season, he could be in line for $23M over five years, or Shane Doan money. Depending on PHX’s ownership, this is a reasonable scenario. An additional draft pick or prospect (Elliot) should be enough.

      • I would be very excited to go into next year with a defense of:

        Yandle – Johnson
        Hejda – Jones
        Wilson – Barrie

        Phoenix’s top nine would be:

        Jones – Stastny – Vrbata
        Korpikoski – Hanzal – Doan
        Boedker – Vermette – Moss

  8. I find it a little frustrating that it took Tortorella all but the fourth game of round 2 to realize Richards needed to sit. Conditioning doesn’t really make a difference at this point; he’s still making the same boneheaded decisions that lead to turnovers on the power play, and ultimately those turnovers resulted in the worst power play in the conference.

    To the fingerpointing, shame on Richards for not figuring it out. Shame on his teammates for not helping him through the mental part. But most of all, shame on Tortorella for not knowing in May what the resy of us knew in February. Bottom line: Brad Richards was costing the Rangers games, and John Tortorella did nothing about it.

    That’s why Tortorella deserves to lose his job.

    • +1