NHL Morning Rumor Mill – November 23, 2013.

Latest on Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller, Michael Del Zotto, Dmitry Kulikov, Tuomo Ruutu, Jiri Tlusty, Mikael Backlund and more.

SI.COM: Allan Muir reported on the recent NHL rumors of note, joining the ranks of those linking the St. Louis Blues to Buffalo’s Ryan Miller despite the solid play of Blues starter Jaroslav Halak. He did note the Blues currently have limited cap space to absorb Miller’s $6.25 million salary. He also noted recent speculation dogging the Rangers Michael Del Zotto and the Stars Vernon Fiddler, wondering if the Rangers might have interest in Fiddler, though the pending UFA center won’t be enough for the Stars to land Del Zotto. Muir doesn’t believe the Florida Panthers are actively shopping defenseman Dmitry Kulikov but could later in the year as there’s a sense they won’t want to pay the asking price he could seek as an RFA with arbitration rights next summer. The Oilers, Hurricanes and Red Wings are believed interest but Muir feels the Ducks could be a better fit for Kulikov.  Muir also claims the Canadiens and Panthers have been “circling each other” in recent weeks, speculating the Habs might have interest in big center Shawn Matthias.  As for the Brayden Schenn rumors, unless he’s part of a package offer for Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, Muir doubts he’s going anywhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Halak’s playing well this season the Blues have no reason to part with assets to land Miller. If Halak struggles in the 2014 playoffs, the Blues will have the cap space to chase Miller via free agency. It remains to be seen if the Stars will part with Fiddler, though if so it could be closer to the trade deadline. Del Zotto will continue to be a fixture in the rumor mill, particularly if he keeps struggling under Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.  Kulikov could be moved later in the season when his trade value could be higher. While the Habs need size I wonder if there’s a fit for Matthias there, as they already have Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais and Daniel Briere as centers, plus Alex Galchenyuk can also play that position. I realize they’ve played Briere recently on left wing but that doesn’t mean he’ll stay in that role.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Nashville Predators have spoken to the Anaheim Ducks about Jonas Hiller and are speaking with other clubs about a possible goalie trade. There was talk the Washington Capitals might move Michal Neuvirth but GM George McPhee won’t move him unless he gets a significant offer, like a top-four defenseman.

Are the Hurricanes shopping Tuomo Ruutu?

Are the Hurricanes shopping Tuomo Ruutu?

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals won’t get that kind of offer for Neuvirth unless he’s packaged with another player. Expect him to remain Braden Holtby’s backup.

TSN’s Darren Dreger took to Twitter last night claiming the Carolina Hurricanes are shopping forward Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty in their search for a puck-moving defenseman, while four or five teams are kicking the tires on Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund, whom the Flames are willing to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take pairing Ruutu and Tlusty to land a puck-moving blueliner, but buyer beware.  Ruutu has a long injury history and Tlusty is a very streaky scorer. Backlund’s time in Calgary appears to be winding down. Unless he’s packaged with another player, he’ll probably bring back a draft pick or a minor league player.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports if the Senators make a trade they don’t want to take on more money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, if they seek a top-four defenseman or top-six winger, it’ll have to be dollar-for-dollar, or the rival club will have to take back more salary in the deal.


  1. Matthias would look great as montreals fourth line centre meaning montreal could try actually rolling four lines spreading ice time more evenly. I think Briere and Galchenyuk will stay on the wings for the year. A trade for Mathias could mean White and a D-prospect like Pateryn go to Florida? Given his improved play DD is likely off the block but that could have been a way MB thought to make a place for Mathias. All this said, I honestly would not be shocker (a little surprised but not shocked) if the Habs traded Pleckanecs, but not to Florida.

    • I wouldn’t trade Pateryn (is gonna be very good in a couple of years) for Mathias. Bourque for Mathias, why not?

  2. Jes Ryan Miller for the Moon, the Sun and a second round pick?

    • without the pick, no deal 😉

  3. I don’t understand all the Miller to St. Louis stuff. The Blues traded for Halak after his clutch playoff year in Montreal. He has played two playoff games for the Blues and had even better numbers. They for sure want to see if he’s a playoff magician before they trade for another starter. If he’s average or better in the season, they’ll keep him as their #1 for the playoff run.

    Luongo lost the starting job, not because Schneider was better over a whole season, but because Luongo didn’t appear to handle the playoff pressure well. Halak is the opposite, and the Blues will give him this year to show what he can do in the playoffs.

    • Thing with Halak is that he is fragile – meaning it seems like he is always injured. While I really like Halak, his injuries have effected his standing, in addition it seems he just hasn’t been able to get his team past the first round. Miller is a pretty consistent goalie and unless he is getting run over-he’s durable. While Miller has played on a mediocre team his career, he has played in some very big games/venues – so he is considered an “elite” goalie. While you and I may not agree with this assessment, evidently the powers that be – do.

      We all know Miller wants to go West to be near the wife, he really is having a great year, blocking 40+ shots a game with a crappy team – imagine what he can do with some defense in front of him. Buffalo knows they can’t ask for the world, but I understand them wanting some fair value for him and they are not going to fire sale him. I also see something happening with Miller either going to Anaheim or St. Louis – but there is a salary cap glitch and just how much Bflo is willing to eat and what they get in return. I don’t see getting a Top 6 guy, but I do see the Sabres getting a youngster and a draft pick.

      • It’s a very good point about Halak’s durability (or lack of it), and I could agree that St Louis could make a deal so they don’t have to worry about that.

        Again, I don’t disagree that Miller might be the better goalie – but I still think St Louis will want to see Halak in the playoffs. He did virtually single-handedly win Montreal two playoff rounds, a couple of years back. And he has only played 2 playoff games with St Louis, and been great (but only 2 games = the durability issue)

        Miller’s playoff career: 25W-22L-2.46GAA-.917%
        Halak’s playoff career: 10W-11L-2.42GAA-.923%

        I’m not arguing that Halak’s better, only that he was brought in to win in the playoffs, and I think they’ll give him that shot.

    • Halak has not played well for St Louis. He may have played well to start the season, but the question will be how will he be in the playoffs. Miller is the type of goalie that is a difference maker in St Louis advancing to the conference finals at least.

      Look at St Louis opponents in the West and ask yourself where does Halak rank–he is near the bottom.

      • Not to bring up the leafs here but couldn’t help but see a comparison … Nonis wanted to upgrade at the goalie position, not that Reimer is a bad goalie but saw an opportunity to get an upgrade and did it… Same thought here I would think, yes Halak is a good goalie but miller is thought of as a better goalie and St. Louis May have a limited time frame to keep this group together so if there is an opportunity to upgrade that doesn’t bring a huge cost do it!! It’s all about winning the cup!!!

      • I dont think so …puck daddy had Halak as one of its three stars this week and a game I was kinda watching on an off the other night, Halak stood on his head and stole 2 points from the Bruins the other night. Meanwhile this week Miller gets pulled 6 goals against Anihiem and coughed up 4 in the final period against the Flyers. Please just stop with he is the answer to everyones goalie problems. Good goalie yes, but has been known to choke the same as many other goalies in the league.

        • Halak last 5 games sv% .912 Miller last 5 games sv% .910 why give up assets? As Lyle and many others have said if a goalie stumbles in the playoffs you could try and sign Miller in the offseason. Miller will likely be moved by the Sabres but his ntc is 8 teams which means there are many other places he could end up besides St. Louis or the Ducks who have pretty good goalies and decent teams they might not want to send the assets away for a ufa goalie.

          • @ Shticky
            Ok, hold up. Your comparison isn’t even close to fair.

            Halak over 17 games has faced 404 shots.
            Miller over 17 games has faced 644 shots.

            St Louis is rank at the top of the league in almost every category while Buffalo is dead last.

            St Louis allows and average of 25.7 shots per game while Buffalo is at 36.2.

            The truth is Miller real save % is .918 while Halak is .906 for the season.

            Talk about cherry picking the stats.

            Be fair here, Miller is on a crap team with crap defence who let him get shelled every night, while Halak is being taken care of every night.

            That’s why he is a better goalie.

          • Shtick,
            Whether you or I like it or not, Miller is perceived as an “elite” goalie. Halak has durability issues and I think him and Hitchcock have a prickily relationship. I’m not saying a deal is imminent, but I could see it happening. Actually I can see Buffalo getting Stewart/Halak for Miller/Adam with maybe St. Louis throwing in a conditional draft pick if Miller resigns or gets them to a certain round. As I said, Miller is facing >40 shots a game and Bflo is giving him very little offense.

          • I am not saying he isnt a great goalie. I am saying he is a ufa goalie who might not be worth the assets that you have to give up when you have a good goalie. DJPs point was that “Halak started the season well but hasnt been good lately” hence comparison over the past 5 games. If you look at the reason most give for picking up Miller (playoffs) Halak has better playoff numbers, and Miller while not having a decent team now did have a pretty decent team when the Sabres were making the playoffs. I agree Miller is good I also think there are more options for places for him to go than the Ducks or Blues, who could go in. To the playoffs with who they have in net if the go out early try and sign him in the summer and give up no assets.

          • Dallas possibly Minni both western conf. Teams who could probably use an “elite” goalie just to make the playoffs, depending on Renne Nash. Maybe look at a guy who is going to be ufa as an effective replacement for a part of the year to try and get them to the dance. There are way better fits than saying the Blues and the Ducks with Miller in net could win the cup. When both those teams could potentially win it with out him and not give up first round picks or blue chip prospects. Some other teams might not mind parting with just to get to the playoffs and get that revenue.

  4. What’s with everyone talking about Ryan miller like he’s still amazing in nets … He’s old now why bother when you could put a loser in nets for St. Louis and he’ll win with a team like St. Louis don’t be surprised if they win the cup … Their Dmen are stacked shatinkirk, bowmeester , pietriangelo, jackman, teams wish to have one dman like that in their whole team imagine having these guys .. Put me in nets and I guarantee I’ll win at least 20-30 games

    • well Frank you just might have something there because you’re goalie’s aren’t very durable – seems one or the other is injured all the time. Also, I believe Hitchcock wants Miller in net for St. Louis. So, we’ll see what happens.

  5. If Montreal traded for Matthias is surely wouldn’t be for the forth line, he has to much offensive potential to dwell there. Replacing Desharnais would be a better bet as he is just too small to be a first or second line centre in my opinion.
    I agree that Millers skills are diminishing and I really don’t see him going to a club like Anaheim that is overflowing with goaltender prospects that they are high on. There just wouldn’t be much of an upgrade.The same with St. Louis, they have Allen waiting in the wings behind both Halak and Elliot. Steve, Miller has had amazing teams in front of him before when he was younger and better and they still lost with him in goal. What makes you so certain he would lead a club like the ducks to a cup with diminished skills. I think that if another team really wanted him bad enough he would have been traded by now. Either the sabres were asking to much or Miller nixed going to where they could send him. Even still with new management I don’t see him going anywhere until the deadline when some other team is desperate.
    I figure the reason the rangers have not moved Del Zotto yet is that they are asking for way to much in return. He certainly can be an impactful player but he really hasn’t played in the league long enough or consistently enough to garner huge returns.
    The Carolina Hurricanes have been looking for a puck moving d-man for quite some time, problem is offering up guys like Ruutu and Tlusty just isn’t going to get it done. Someone might bite though if Skinners name came up.

  6. For now Matthias is not going anywhere unless he and Kulikov would be packaged for a very good scoring forward.

    No Habs player looks too interesting for the Panthers right now.

  7. Kulikov to the Oilers…sure, why not? I have a question, why is it, Cory Potter is on this team and Ladislav Smid is not again? Terrible trade. Unless that Brossoit kid becomes a number 1 tender, I don’t like it. Especially in the same division to a team you play often, what the hell were they thinking? Unless they really decided the season was over? Aside from that little rant, as an Oiler fan, I wouldn’t mind seeing a trade between the panthers & Oilers. Kulikov seems like he has the potential to be a reliable D-man? It would be nice to have another Russian on the team. Aside from Bryzgalov, who I assume won’t be around after this season? What might it cost the Oil? If he’s up for a trade, I can’t see them asking too much in return.

    • Not to argue but Kulikov is not going to be cheap and MacT hasnt been exactly keen on moving anything worth any value…accept Smid who he gave away for nothing. Headscratcher for sure I agree.

  8. Going back throughout Briere’s career in Phoenix, Buffalo and Philly – hasn’t he played most games as a right wing?