NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2014

The latest on Ryan Miller, Jason Spezza, James Neal, Mark Fayne and more.

Could there be considerable player movement at the 2014 NHL draft?

Could there be considerable player movement at the 2014 NHL draft?

USA TODAY: Kevin Allen expects plenty of wheeling and dealing during next month’s NHL draft weekend. Panthers GM Dale Tallon admits he’s had “a few guys” making inquiries about his first round pick (first overall) and expects more interest in the coming weeks. The Senators will be listening to offers for Jason Spezza and the Maple Leafs could consider moving Dion Phaneuf. Defenseman like Vancouver’s Alex Edler or Buffalo’s Christian Ehrhoff could be dealt. The Hurricanes are expected to shop goalie Cam Ward, and Allen expects they’ll want a significant return if they put Eric Staal on the block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We discussed this during last night’s Face Off Hockey Show. Given the number of teams which have changed management and coaches, the anticipated increase in next season’s salary cap plus the ability for teams to retain salary to facilitate a trade, and this summer could shape up to be busier than normal. 

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran recently listed potentila fre agent players whose playoff performances have affected their market value. Among those on the rise are Marian Gaborik, Jarome Iginla, Matt Niskanen and Paul Stastny.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports a source claims the Anaheim Ducks won’t pursue goaltender Ryan Miller via free agency, intending to stick with their young tandem of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. The San Jose Sharks are out of the running, as their focus is upon adding younger talent.

NBC SPORTS: cites an interview Miller’s agent, Mike Liut, gave with Vancouver radio station News 1130, in which Liut said his client wants to win a Stanley Cup. Liut also didn’t rule out the Canucks as a possible destination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the theory of his signing with a California-based club this summer. There was also talk of his signing with the Minnesota Wild, but GM Chuck Fletcher has indicated he could go with Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper for next season. 

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Ken Warren lists the Blues, Predators, Ducks and Panthers as four clubs who could deal for Senators captain Jason Spezza. Scanlan speculates the Senators could want Patrik Berglund and Ian Cole as part of the return from the Blues, perhaps Filip Forsberg and Colin Wilson from the Predators, centers Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino from the Ducks and Dmitry Kulikov along the the first overall pick from the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Warren is merely spitballing here, not saying those returns are what the Senators want. Those destinations also depend on Spezza approving them as possible destinations. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Joe Starkey offers up some advice for the new Penguins GM, like allowing Marc-Andre Fleury to play out the final year of his contract, trade James Neal to Winnipeg for Evander Kane, and trade defenseman Paul Martin for help up front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allowing Fleury to finish his contract and trading Martin for a forward are more likely than swapping Neal for Kane. I don’t see the Jets parting with him.

NJ.COM: Rich Chere recently reported Devils defenseman Mark Fayne is ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery to repair  the core muscle in his left groin, but had yet to have meaningful contract talks with the Devils. Fayne is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.


  1. Fayne will be the best UFA d man avsilsble if he gets to july 1st, Leafs should be looking in to that more than another guy like Niskanen.

    Miller is in a bad spot lol besides maybe Pitsburgh noy many cup contenders going to be looking for an aging hoalie who didnt look very good with a great D Playing in front of him.

    Have to be alot more to the deal than Neal for Kane

    Does anyone really think Spezza would waive to go to Florida???

    Cant see Phaneuf going anywhere….still.

  2. I wouldn’t mind seeing Hards and Miller split the goaltending duties (only if we can sign Miller to a short term deal, 2 years max) if Hards is able to play and we can get rid of Backstrom somehow, maybe to Florida?

    Neal to Minnesota for Koivu and Fontaine, I know I’ll get ripped for wanting to trade our captain but he is another Heatley in the making. Paid too much, lack of productivity, getting slow and 4 more years of a contract he’ll never live up to.

    Rumors around here are that Fletcher wouldn’t rule out trading Koivu. (true or not)?

    Phaneuf stays and no way Spezza waives to go to Florida, that would be idiotic.

    • Florida has Luongo tied up for forever. They don’t need another high priced under performing goalie.

      • Agreed, Florida doesn’t need another goaltender. Not so sure Harding is anywhere near returning this year or next. Unfortunately, Harding has probably played the last professional game of his career.

        • Fletcher was reported as saying that Josh might be available to play next season and maybe one after that depending what the doctors say, hope he can play at a high level.

      • Nobody said anything about them needing a high priced goalie, but he may work as a backup. I don’t hear much about Ellis….

    • I could absolutely see Spezza going to Florida. It depends on his motivation for being unhappy in Ottawa.

      He can choose 10 teams to not go to: If it’s that he’s tired of being a lightning rod in a hockey-crazed market, he might put a number of Canadian teams on that list. That could be 4-5 of those 10 teams already.

      Maybe, all other things being equal, he’d prefer warm weather to cold (who wouldn’t?) and an exciting city to a more boring one, so maybe rule out middling eastern teams in less exciting markets, such as Columbus, maybe Washington?

      I could see him having used 8 of his 10 teams before even starting to look at whether or not to consider the Panthers. While I imagine he’d prefer to go to a stronger team, I can see him “accepting” a trade to Florida – worse places that a young multimillionaire could live.

      Not saying he will or won’t, but I think it’s certainly a possibility.

      • Miami is a great city, just not a great hockey city.

        • When I think excitement, Washington isn’t the first city that comes to mind however it does have some interesting areas (along with some not so interesting ones!). Spezza’s married with a young family so night life’s probably not at the top of his list anyways. More likely he’ll want to join a team where he can succeed which means skilled wingers etc. This may rule out Florida however there are definitely lots worse places to live than S. E. Florida!

          • “Spezza’s married with a young family so night life’s probably not at the top of his list anyways. ” Since when has that stopped Celebrity’s , / Athletes / and Rock stars from indulging? LOL

          • Spezza would be the perfect fit with Ovechkin.

            JS 578th (-26) and AO 582nd (-35) of 583 forwards in the NHL last season.

      • Spezza is competitive and for sure he’ll want to go to a cup contender. He’s grossly underrated…I wish Ottawa would keep this guy….unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to happen…St. Louis and Anaheim are the spots I think are the frontrunners

      • If Spezza is traded he probably wants to go to a team that is a contender (hard for any of those to fit him in.. except the Blues).. He probably doesn’t want to go to a team that is re-building.

        If it’s St Louis.. I would hope Murray would ask for Schwartz. Not sure they get him.. but if the return from any team is garbage.. then Spezza should just stay in Ottawa until the trade deadline.

    • Why would Florida want Backstrom?

      Guy never plays anymore. I can’t see anyone taking him on unless the Wild take back salary. I’m thinking buyout is the only way to go with Backstrom.

    • Why would the penguins trade a 40 goal scorer for 2 slow-mos that won’t get 10 between them? What a completely one sided deal. Just stupid.

  3. @Thunder

    With all due respect lets say that Vanek does indeed sign in minnesota, and even if he doesn’t why would Minn trade a centre for yet another winger?

    • Really? Teams move forwards around all the time and we don’t need Vanek, he’s a one way street and takes games off. We need to get tougher and Neal is a goal scorer with a mean side.

      • The wild would be smarter to trade for Neal rather than sign Vanek. The playoffs have given other teams the opportunity to see the “real” Vanek play. While Montreal didn’t give up that much for him, he hasn’t brought anything with him except his disappearing act – there are times I think even Therrian has even cut his time down. IMO, Montreal should play Briere – at least he shows up.

      • Not anymore, Neal has basically been neutered just like Cooke was. I can’t remember the last time I noticed him hit anyone. He plays like he’s on eggshells, which he may very well be. Trust me you don’t want James Neal. His character is very suspect and his skating ability is terrible at best. He’s a rollerblader. He won’t stop on the puck. In fact I’m convince that without his wrister, which is absolutely filthy nice, he isn’t even in the NHL. I’m a Penguins fan who watches every game, every year. Trust me, stay away from James Neal.

      • “Really? Teams move forwards around all the time and we don’t need Vanek, he’s a one way street and takes games off. We need to get tougher and Neal is a goal scorer with a DIRTY side.”

        Tried to fix this using the tags below…Hope it worked.

  4. Once again Ottawa’s gaggle of lunatic media are the ones sabre rattling to trade Spezza. Talk to the common ticket holder and most admit you won’t get good return – might as well keep him.

    The bigger story in Ottawa is Melnyk’s continuing tantrum over not getting a casino. He has cash in hand from tv deals and won’t be spending a dime. The restricteds will get bridge deals(bridges to nowhere) and the unrestricteds will politely be told to move along. Expect to see half of Binghampton in the line up next year Sens fans.
    Should be easy to blame Spezza again for another dissappointing season with rookie/sophomore line mates.
    insert your chants here “lose with honor and we’ll get Connor” !!

    Sens pick 1st in 2015

    • As a sens fan, I have to agree with you. Real problem is Melnyk…utterly dissapointing…but also horrible place to build an arena to begin with…what were they thinking?
      Spezza showed he can be one of the best if you give him some guys to play with, unfortunately the sens organization aren’t really interested in putting together an NHL calliber team…wish we could trade Melnyk and rebuild the arena downtown.

      • Build an arena downtown with no subway? That’s not going to happen. The land will cost too much to begin with.

        One lane — one way roads in every direction. That would be a nightmare.

        OC Transpo busses can carry about 1,000 people per hour (this was studied when the team first looked at building downtown) whereas subways carry about 10,000 per hour.. Big difference.

        You think it’s hard getting out of Kanata after a game by car? Try getting to the Queensway on those downtown roads and numerous traffic lights especially in winter.

    • Well said and so true. As a Sens fan and a season ticket holder I’m getting pretty tired of Melnyk cheaping out on the team.

      If he doesn’t have finances to run an NHL team.. then sell it..

      56M is the budget for next season.. same as last year. So Melnyk is not investing any of the 35-40M he is getting in the TV deals into the team next season.

      Hello Connor McDavid..

    • Melnyk will not like the idea of moving a player who gives him $7 million on the cap for only $4 million in real money. It would cost him $3 million just to tread water salary cap wise in terms of that $7 million on the cap.

    • I don;t know who you are talking to, but everyone I know here in Ottawa, Sens fan or not pretty much unanimously agrees that its time to dump Spezza now for whatever you can get. Nothing wrong with that as at his age, he doesn’t have many prime years left, has always been a slacker (won’t play two-way hockey despite having the size/talent to be an elite two-way centre) and personally I believe he is a drain in the dressing room (no evidence of such, just local heresay). If I was Murray, I’d be moving him for the best offer, name Phillips captain (like should have been done originally) and move on.

      Really the problem with this team is Murray being a lousy and soft GM and Melnyk sitting around like a giant suck for all of the reasons mentioned above.

      They also have a trade chip in Anderson who should be moved for some more young talent. If they time it right and have some luck, he could be put on the market as the best goalie available and you avoid next year loosing him for nothing/ or re-signing. They are lucky to have some promising youngsters and a good top line (Turris line) to build off of, so all is not lost for this team.

  5. Potentially Miller to Vancouver. Supposedly their new GM (Benning) was Director of Scouting for the Sabres when they drafted Miller. Vancouver is on the west coast and warmer than Buffalo ever was any day of the year. Supposedly Miller refused to be traded to a Canadian team, but if there are no openings in California, or St. Louis – and assuming he is not courted or refuses to consider teams like Pittsburgh or Washington, Vancouver is an option, so perhaps he changes his mind, and well Torts is not there anymore. Besides, despite all of our arguments and assumptions about him needing to be in California because of his wife being an actress….has anyone ever heard of her? Not me. I would favour the marriage partner who has the potential to earn 5 plus million per yer. At least I know who Elisha Cuthbert is, and she is not even considered a good actress. Don,t be too picky Ryan Miller, you may find yourself on the outside looking in.

    • Miller’s demise in the playoffs this year has really hurt any value he had. IMO essentially I think his opportunities are going to be limited and if he wants to continue playing he will have to go somewhere he’s needed versus somewhere he wants to go. The California teams seem pretty much set at goalie – say what you will about Niemi, but he is a good goalie, has a Stanley Cup and is reasonably priced.

      While I like Miller and appreciate all he’s done for the Sabres and the community – I think he was part of the problem with the Core of Pomminville, Vanek, Gaustaud et al. Sabres are transitioning and we need more players that want to be in Buffalo and play versus complaining. Miller was given the opportunity to play for a team that had a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup – and while the offense wasn’t scoring in bundles, he still gave up too many soft goals. This year is a reality check for Ryan and we’ll see how much he wants to play.

    • Completely agree Murph, I think people put WAY too much stock in “X player will go to X team because it’s close to home, Wife, kids, etc..” I hear this often over the years, and see it next to never. Players care more about money and contending than going home. Especially players who may be on the verge of signing the last deal of their career.

  6. 2 Weeks ago on this site I wrote that I thought the Blues could reasonably acquire Jason Spezza for Patrik Berglund, Ian Cole, and a 2nd/3rd round pick and was ridiculed for the idea.

    Not saying that Ken Warren is validating my opinion, but he realizes that Jason Spezza will be a UFA after this next season, is aging, and the Senators are not the ones with the leverage here.

    • Bryan Murray gets whacked if he agrees to that deal with the Blues … Ken Warren knows about as much hockey as you do … a 1st line center for 3rd & 4th liners … yep, sounds good …

      • The Blues will already be short picks and I cant see a third round pick and a couple depth guys being enough to land Spezza, there would be better offers. Conversation ends without a first and a very talented younger player. Not like its a deadline rental situation Spezza for a full year could really make a difference for some teams. I just cant see him waiving for teams that dont have much of a shot at the playoffs. Sure hemight be sick of the attention but there are still quite a few places that would be a better place to play hockey (with out all the attention) than Florida.

        • The Senators are not a cap team and Jason Spezza is not the player he once was. However, he is still valuable and sought after as a 2nd line center in the NHL. I stand by the fact that Murray would take Ian Cole (Prospect), Patrik Berglund, and a 2nd round pick. The Blues 1st round pick (24) this year could come into play but only if Doug Armstrong really feels he needs to make a move.

          The ONLY way this offer gets sweetened is if the Blues receive permission to hammer out an extension with Spezza before the trade happens. If that is the scenario then you’re correct, the Blues will have to pay a higher premium to get him.

          • Don’t really understand your perception that Spezza isn’t the player he once was. This year, given his injury, he was the 12th best center in points per game, and last year he was 7th. That’s with playing with sub par wingers as well. Give the guy some credit.

          • Neither Ottawa nor a potential new team can negotiate with Spezza until July 1st, so no “sign and trade” type deal.

    • @ don d he totally stole it from you

    • It is reported St Louis really wants Spezza and he wants to go there. It’s a no-brainer that he would sign there.

      You had better get more than that or he stays in Ottawa.

      • I disagree. If I could get that return (plus the cap space) for Spezza, I would take it in a heartbeat. He’s on the back end of his career, fans are pissed off at him (been to many games in town here where people taunt him leading to him whining about it to the Citizen), has been a lousy captain (you risk loosing the room) and is a slacker on the ice.
        Promote Turris, bring in Berglund (along with another player either a FA or by trading Anderson) for that 2nd line and use Cole as quality depth on the back end.

  7. Well look at that Snow actually did a pretty decent contract Halak 4 years 4.5 mill, and gives up next years first to Buffalo…. must be feeling good that they finnally got a goalie.

    • Given their likely finish next season (Halak won’t drag them too far up the standings) it seems ridiculous to keep a pick in a weak draft and give up one in a stinger draft (next season’s).

      • I suspect they actually try to be active in the FA market this year as well. They could be a bubble team for the playoffs without too much more. They need a winger for JT (Cammaleri, Iginla, Molson, Vanek or a trade) and a top 4 D man. I could see them contending for a playoff spot fairly easily if the D is even a bit better than last year.

        • And lets not forget its the east we are talking about so ya I could see them at least being a bubble type team with better goaltending.

          • Not a big Snow supporter lol but ican see the reasoning in not wanting to give off the image that you are giving up this years pick and preparing fpr failure again next year. Not exactly a great image to start your team off or way to promote yourself when you are trying to sell tickets, packing it in before the first game.

        • I think they need to stop looking for a winger for JT and build everywhere around him. They got their goalie, now it’s time to build from the back forward. Get some character players on the bottom 6 and try and improve the top 6 a little. Tavares will play well with anyone he plays with, it’s the next 3 lines that need to be built or they will be a 1 line team forever.

  8. Hiller could end up in Washington.

    I still think there could be a chance of Spezza to Detroit. But, the idea of Ottawa getting Florida’s 1st…..

  9. Trust me, your opinion was valid long before Warren got to it. And no – bad back – wrong side of thirty the Sens would be lucky to get the package you described

  10. Owen is right. You can’t teach talent. There’s no way you can replace this guys points through trade. Pierre McGuire keeps telling Sens fans to be “careful what you wish for – when he’s gone he’s gone”.

    Nobody listens. They’re ready to run him out of town on the next train.

  11. 100% agree.

    I hadn’t considered the “perception” angle on the pick. I guess you can spin it by saying they think they’ll suck so bad this year AND next that they’re willing to hold on to the “McDavid Pick”.

    So they keep this years and get a crappy player but look better to the fans. They’re off to Brooklyn in a year so maybe perception is important.

  12. Numerous radio/newspaper polls completely refute your first line.

    It’s usually an even split and then a split on the undecideds or uninformed. 30% keep, 30% trade, 30% don’t know, 10% Jason Who?

    Methot should have been named Captain, or they should have gone with the Rangers scenario, no pressure on Jason. Can’t name Methot captain he just got here. So….Spezza got it.

    When he’s gone, and everyone is lamenting our weakness up the middle, they’ll torch Murray for trading him at all. And nobody will remember that Murray was handcuffed and could only manage to pry Chris Stewart away from St.Louis. You can’t replace a point a game player through trade. It happens – never. Get him some people to play with. Make him accountable for his perceived laziness.

    go sens go