The latest on the Sabres, Flames, Red Wings and more.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason believes it may be time for the Sabres to not only part ways with goaltender Ryan Miller, but also forwards Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Gleason noted the trio will become unrestricted free agents next year, and their trade value could decline if the Sabres wait until next season to move them.
Mike Harrington reports prevailing wisdom around the league is the Sabres will be sellers by the trade deadline. He noted pending free agents like Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold, and Jochen Hecht could attract some interest, as could struggling winger Drew Stafford. Like Gleason, Harrington believes what will bear watching is what the Sabres do with Miller, Vanek and Pominville. He also reports the Sabres had scouts at recent games in Los Angeles, Colorado and St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no doubt pending UFAs like Regehr and Leopold could attract interest, but I doubt there’ll be much in Stafford, who has two years at $4 million per left on his contract. As for Miller, Vanek and Pominville, it could come down to where they see their futures next summer, and if they still believe they have a place with the Sabres. If not, the Sabres should move them, if not at the trade deadline, then definitely this summer, and try to get solid returns upon which to rebuild.
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports the Flames are trying to ignore the trade rumors dogging the club. Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Miikka Kiprusoff are the most mentioned in the rumor mill, but others (Lee Stempniak, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich, Curtis Glencross, Chris Butler) could also start appearing in the mill. Eric Francis reports Iginla maintains his refusal to speak about trade speculation with the press.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla, Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff will obviously be the focus of trade speculation from now until April 3, but it is possible the Flames could try to move out some of their lesser lights.
NHL NETWORK (VIA KUKLA’S KORNER): Interviewed TSN’s Darren Dreger, who spoke briefly about Ryan Miller’s trade status, suggesting it would take a rival team making a pitch for Sabres management to consider moving him, rather than the Sabres shopping Miller. Given his status as an elite goalie, there would be concerns about the return and who would replace Miller in Buffalo…Dreger also reported St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart could be available. The Blues are seeking in a defenseman, and also had some interest earlier this season in Toronto’s Nikolai Kulemin…Dreger also touched on the trade status of Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and Jay Bouwmeester, noting it would be costly to land Kiprusoff, but he feels moving Bouwmeester is more realistic, suggesting the Red Wings could be a destination…As for Corey Perry, there’s a sense the Anaheim Ducks could make a serious effort to re-sign him at the trade deadline, but if they can’t, management would face a tough decision about moving him at the trade deadline.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports a source claims the Detroit Red Wings are inching closer to a new contract with pending UFA goalie Jimmy Howard and could have an agreement soon. It’s believed the new deal could be for six-seven years for perhaps as much as $5 million per season. The club is also working on getting Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner re-signed before the end of the regular season. Khan reports the Wings feel they can reach common ground with Brunner, but aren’t anywhere close yet to re-signing Filppula.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Wings may be close to re-upping Howard. Sure, Mike Smith might be available this summer via free agency, and Ryan Miller perhaps via trade, but there’s no guarantee they could land either guy, so it’s best to stick with Howard. I also expect they’ll get Brunner re-signed, but Filppula is no sure thing given his rumored demands for $5 million per season. I don’t believe the Wings will trade Filppula at the deadline if they’re unable to reach an agreement.