NHL Morning Rumor Mill – September 13, 2013.

Updates on Derek Stepan,  Cody Franson, Damien Brunner, Simon Gagne and more.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Derek Stepan’s agent, Matt Oates, said his client would prefer a long-term deal but is willing to consider a short-term contract. It’s believed the Rangers have offered him a two-year deal worth between $2.5-$2.7 million per season.

Cody Franson's contract talks with the Maple Leafs remain at an impasse.

Cody Franson’s contract talks with the Maple Leafs remain at an impasse.

TSN.CA: Jonas Siegel reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and defenseman Cody Franson remain at an impasse in contract negotiations. Franson remains optimistic of reaching a resolution soon. He’s believed seeking a one-year, $3 million deal, while the Leafs prefer a two-year deal for less money. The threat of an offer sheet is among the limited options in Franson’s favor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s possible Franson and Stepan could be placed on the trade block but it sounds as though both clubs are prepared to wait them out.  Limited cap space is why both players remain unsigned. What they’re seeking isn’t unrealistic, and if both clubs had more cap space, Franson and Stepan would be under contract now.  As for offer sheet, the decline in the salary cap makes that option a remote one. So, the waiting game continues.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the return of Daniel Cleary to the Detroit Red Wings could result in the demotion of Gustav Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser (who are waiver-exempt) and/or the trading or waiving of Jordin Tootoo, Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves, Mikael Samuelsson or Tomas Tatar to become cap compliant as well as trim their roster to 23 players.

DETROIT FREE PRESS’s Helene St. James reports the following via Twitter: “Hearing UFA ex-Wing Damien Brunner may be talking to Dallas (Jim Nill knows him) and New Jersey, possibly also Vancouver.”

RDS.CA/TVA SPORTS: report Simon Gagne’s agent has spoken with several clubs, including the Montreal Canadiens.

SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston reports the following about Gagne on Twitter: “The #Habs have not extended a PTO to Simon Gagne. Player is believed to be interested but the same can’t be said for team.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Gagne’s injury history and the steady decline in his production he doesn’t seem a good fit with the Canadiens.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: In the wake of the Carolina Hurricanes signing Ron Hainsey, Chip Alexander reports Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will “keep an open mind” about possibly adding another player via signing or trade.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: James O’Brien listed Tim Thomas, Ilya Bryzgalov, Vinny Prospal, Brad Boyes, Damien Brunner, Mason Raymond, Tom Gilbert, Brenden Morrow and Ryan Whitney among the best available free agents. Some of them – like Boyes, Raymond, and Whitney – are on PTO contracts.


  1. Ok Ranger fans, how about a little “what if”……..how about Pietrangelo for Stepan and McDonagh?
    Highly unlikely the Blues ever consider trading Petro, and I’m sure it’s the same situation with the Rangers and Stepan (and McDonagh). But for either team to consider making a trade, it would have to involve significant players in return. Soif we leave out any draft picks, prospects, or throw ins to balance things out, what do you think? Reasonable trade for the most part, or do you feel like the Rangers are giving up too much? The Blues would only consider trading Pietrangelo if they got significant talent back.

    • If Pietroangelo is looking for 7 mill a year the Rangers would need to move more then that, McDonaghs hit 4.7 plus the 2 they have in room still leaves them short, they would have to bury someone atleast for some room which would leave them in a similar situation as the Leafs A 21 or 22 man roster till they could make another move.

      • Plus I wouldnt give up McDonagh at 4.7 to sign Pietroangelo for near twice that, Alex is excellent but McDonagh is very good too and locked in to a very good contract that gives tones of flexibility down the road.

        • As a Blues fan, I love McDonagh as a player, and yeah, you hit on it – that is a very good contract to have him locked into. Is he Alex Pietrangelo? No, but I see him as a “poor man’s” Pietrangelo (and not very “poor”, quite frankly). Add in Stepan and I actually think the Blues get the better end of the deal, especially taking the contract stuff into account (assuming Stepan signs a similar contract to McDonagh and Pietrangelo gets 7 or 8 years at $7 mil or so). Anyway, just throwing it out there to see if is what reasonable or if Ranger fans thought it was insane.

    • In addition to other’s comments I’m not sure how Stepan fits into the Blues lineup. He’s definitely a valuable player but with Backes, Berglund, and Roy STL seems pretty set down the middle.

      • Seems like the Blues are set at center, but they really don’t have and haven’t had a #1 center. Backes has been kind of forced into the roll and is a great player, but definitely not an ideal #1. Roy may play that roll this year, but is on a 1-yr deal and has had some injuries. Berglund has the potential, but isn’t there yet. Plus the Blues will use him on the wing at times. If you ask most Blues fans, a true #1 center is one of their biggest needs, and they really don’t have any good prospects at center. This deal gives them a young, very good #1 and a very good replacement for Pietrangelo.

        • I think Backes game suits a no. 1 just fine, very difficult to play against another teams top line, some toughness, a very good hockey IQ and defensively, decent enough on face offs and creates some space for his wingers.

        • i don’t really see stepan as a true number one center on a cup contender -which is what the blues expect to be. he’s a very good center and had a great year in a shortened season but i wouldn’t want to rest my Stanley Cup hopes on him, at least not yet.

          additionally, the blues have made a commitment to berglund. they gave him a one year contract and no doubt told him that this is a tryout. that it’s time for him to be the player they expect him to be or they’d have to go in a different direction. now they owe it to him, and to themselves, to give him every opportunity to be successful. cutting down his ice-time, asking him to play out of his natural position, giving him lesser linemates, that’s not going to help him.

          and lastly, we haven’t even gotten into the rangers. what about their centerman. if they move stepan who do that go with? sure, hypothetically richards regains his form and becomes a top line center but what if he doesn’t? what if his confidence is too shattered to be repaired, or if tortorella is right and for whatever reason the game has passed him by? do the blueshirts really want to go with brassard and boyle as their top two centers?

          there’s just too many reasons why this deal would never ever happen -and i haven’t even started talking about the d-men.

    • It it were 1960, I would say teh Rangers get the best player in an excellent long term trade for both teams. The cap era makes the trade “un-doable” unless the Rangers weaken their team with other trade-offs or drops.

  2. i think liles may have a bounce back year. And is gd depth to have. If you can trade him go ahead. Solves our problem with the cap. Option 2 trevor Brennan and Holzer comes off the books if sent to minors if they do not impress trade 0rr or Mclarean to Edmonton who is looking for an eforcer for a 4th or 5th. that would free up approx. 2 million. Plus the 2 million they have left is 4 million. Give Franson 1 year deal at 2.9 million (same as Kadri)and if Raymond impresses give him 1 year 1million. I really like the toughness in leafs lineup but with additions of bolland and Clarkson I feel like we can sacrafice McLaren or Orr to keep one of our top dman and add more speed with Raymond. Enforcers are replacable Top 4 dmen not as much. And more speed will help. Let me know what u guys think

    • I would be reluctant to move Orr, or McLaren even with the additions of Clarkson & Bolland. They keep the opposition honest and you really don’t want Bolland playing the tough guy cause that is what leads to his injury past. Besides Clarkson & Bolland can’t produce if they’re in the penalty box. I really think Ranger could replace Franson. I am not a Franson hater either. I think $3.5 mil is a fair amount, I would rather move Phaneuf (for financial reasons only) & keep Franson (younger & more affordable). Put the remaining funds & the raised cap for next year. Gardiner, & Kessel’s contracts are up & money will be needed. Plus next years potential UFA list looks great.

      • Now that I think more about it, I think $3.5M for Franson is a little much considering Gunner got $3.15M
        Franson should get no more than $3M on a bridge contract (2 years or so).
        As for Phaneuf, I would ship him out too. The only issue is they’ll need a stay-at-home, solid, physical D-man who can eat up a ton of minutes to replace him. Or at least a 1st round pick and a prospect.
        I think he may be a playoff rental though, as most teams know he’ll be a UFA next year and may try to get him then…

  3. Does anyone see the Leafs moving Franson anywhere? If so what do you think the Leafs would get? With Ranger, being ready to go could he then take Franson’s spot. So if that’s true does anyone think he could go for a prospect & possibly a first round pick?

    • Althgough I’m a fan of Franson, I don’t see him being worth that much. A prospect and 2nd round, sure, but not 1st.
      Takers could include Edm, Carolina, and NYI but I think Nonis will try to retain him.

      • If he was worth a first I think there would be more teams considering an offer sheet, or at least less reluctant to consider it. I still wouldnt be surprised to see him moved. I don’t disagree potentially Franson is a good top 4 guy, but I think with him playing in the center of the hockey universe has made people over value him. His good half season has set the expectation level at an unreasonable level. Randy and his system and the way he was used is as much to do with Fransons success as anything, his skills did not suddenly jump levels of development. There is no saying playing Ranger or one of the others in the same role wouldnt be almost if not just as effective

  4. 1ts preseason game against Leafs in 2 days.. Can you believe it?

    Hockey is almost back.

    • Finally :-)

  5. how about Franson Tyler Biggs Kulemin and 2 or 3rd for Keith Yandle. We retain 500k from Kulemin Then Trade McLaren to Edmonton for a 4th rounder and demote trevor smith Toronto Would then have a defenceman to potentially replace Dion or a gd first pairing going forward. Even a first round pick top 10 protected

    • ACK! No no, I’m not a fan of this sorry only because I’m a fan of Kulemin, he’s relatively cheap and has arguably the best 2-way game on the team and I think that’s way too much for Yandle.
      Whoever replaces Phaneuf should be a stay-at-home Scott Stevens type of d-man (I have no idea who that could be to be honest right now) but I think we have a ton of talent and potential on puck moving and offensive d-men that we need someone who hits hard and clears the front of the net nicely

      • Scott Stevens was not just stay home d-men. In last 3-5 years of Stevens career he started to play more d-sive oriented game. Stevens has 900 NHL points.

        Stevens scored over 49pts 9 times in his career.

      • Gotta think Franson is worth more signed than not for teams looking for help on defense – Edmonton could use him.

    • Kulemin for Yandle? You are joking….Phoenix won’t trade Yandle for 3 Kulemins…

      Is this Fridays 13th or April fool day?

  6. I like the toughness don’t get me wrong but Orr 1 million Mclarlen 750 k, Fraser 1.275 and Bolland and Clarkson will make us tougher so teams can’t match us physically. Where is McLaren in playoffs, in press box, or is a liability on ice. Shawn Thorton didn’t want any part of him Come playoffs they are useless. We only need one heavy weight. use the rest of money you get from demoting Trevor Smith and trading Orr/McLaren and sign Franson to what he is worth. Or go after a more proven NHLer. And so many people jumping on the Paul Ranger band wagon, he is a question mark. but he has a ntc so he has to be a 5 6 guy

    • What Franson is worth according to who?? There is enough money to sign Franson for what he is worth according to the Leafs just by sending someone to the Marlies. It was a very short season he had maybe 20 games playing as anything more then a bottom pairing D man yes he looked good for some of it but not worth a 300% raise. Again every one thinking its a no brainer that he is worth what he is asking but if it was that sure of a thing that he is going to be a top 10 type D man again do you not think an offer sheet would have been floated his way already? Its not everyday you can pick up a top type D that most fans are convinced he is for around 4 million bucks.

  7. and I am sick of people saying we should have bought out JML’s, then hearing people complain about the 2 million we have to pay tucker and Armstrong because of the exact same reason. JML’s will have a bounce back year

  8. I spoke with a former Asst. GM of the Rangers this week. He told me that Sather never – never! – capitulates and gives in on RFA contracts. He cited Dubinsky & Avery as just a couple of examples.

    He also says he understood players holding out for things like injuries in training camp, etc, that improve their leverage. But that, barring extenuating circumstances such as those, the Rangers will simply just wait it out. The same will happen with Stepan.

    (Note: this is not to say he won’t sign RFAs like McDonagh long-term, only that he won’t give in to RFA holdouts)

  9. I don’t see the Rangers trading Stepan, but I do see them trading Boyle, Dorsett or Brassard if need be. I see Stepan as a centerpiece in their organization and with his skill, talent and leadership I just don’t see them giving that away.

  10. SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Gagne’s injury history and the steady decline in his production he doesn’t seem a good fit with the Canadiens.

    With that kind of description, exactly what team would be a fit for Gagne???

    • The Dallas Stars.

  11. I was hoping with the Hodgson holdout, that the Sabres could package him with Stafford for Stepan. But it was only a dream.

  12. There are a ton of NHL players not working and expected to sign for peanuts. IE the Leafs have Mason Raymond who is begging for a job. The Leafs have a glut of NHL quality defencemen. So no pressure on the Leafs to make a deal with Franson. The Leafs have 1.9 Million left so asking for 3 million is a waste of time. (Will not happen). Franson is best to suck it up like PK Suban and Nasem Khadri did and accept a 2 year deal of 5.8 million. Get $2 million this season and 3.8 million next season. Then you have proved your worth and you can cash in big. The Leafs have too many expiring contracts next season and too many top level Guy’s to resign. Now is not the time for Cody to be testing the Leafs resolve. What will happen is he will miss the first one or two weeks of camp settle on a $5.8 million 2 year deal and waiting out will be for not.

    • This makes much more sense.

    • So pay him $2.9….. ? How does that make sense.

      • 2 year term at 2.9 is good (Id prefer a little less but thats not bad) 1 year term like Franson wants gives us 4 of 6 dmen on expiring contracts next year, and Franson is not worth any more then a bridge deal at this point imo. Again it was a short season for half of it he was a bottom pairing D with Fraser where he was insulated from playing top lines he played maybe 20 games on the second pair and looked awful in his own end at points (I realize he gets points but also gives the puck away an awful lot). 2 years to see if his game continues to develop as a second pairing guy would be perfect. Franson is not worth 4 million bucks right now and a year term is just setting up to many questions going forward next year. Thats how