The latest on the Maple Leafs and Canucks, plus updates on Andrei Markov, Dany Heatley, Dmitry Kulikov, Dan Boyle and more.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Dany Heatley’s stock has significantly declined, to the point there three league executives believe he’ll get a best a one-year, $1 million contract next season. He believes that could come from a “bottom-feeder” and suggests the Florida Panthers as a destination…It’s believed Andrei Markov could re-sign a three-year extension with the Canadiens…Sources say the Panthers did indeed table a four-year, $20 million offer to pending RFA Dmitry Kulikov…Garrioch cites the Jets unwillingness to sign a replacement coach to a long-term deal after firing Claude Noel. He wonders if they’re keeping an eye on embattled Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, who once coached the Manitoba Moose…The Sharks won’t decide what to do with pending UFA blueliner Dan Boyle until the off-season…Hurricanes’ owner Peter Karmanos has to sign off on Ron Francis taking over from Jim Rutherford as GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heatley’s stock has plummeted in recent years. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s forced to head overseas to continue his playing career…I think Markov re-signs with the Habs…The Panthers will try to re-sign Kulikov, but I wonder if his camp is hoping he gets an expensive offer sheet which forces the Panthers to pay more to retain him…The Jets were unwilling to commit to a long-term replacement for Noel, but they’re very pleased with Paul Maurice since he took over. There’s been various reports in recent weeks claiming the Jets want to re-sign him to a long-term deal. The reason it hasn’t happened yet is Maurice wants to discuss it first with his family…The Sharks could wait to buy out the final season of Martin Havlat’s contract before re-signing Boyle…Ron Francis will be the next GM of the Hurricanes.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Shoalts believes Leafs management must analyze the roster top to bottom to figure out its defensive weaknesses and lack of secondary scoring and work on a solution starting with entry draft weekend trades and free agent signings. He notes the struggles of captain Dion Phaneuf, center Nazem Kadri and winger David Clarkson this season. Shoalts acknowledges there will be no easy answers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Leafs fans believe Phaneuf and Clarkson should be bought out (they won’t) and Kadri should be traded (he might, if the Leafs can get a decent return). I expect James Reimer will be part of a trade near the Entry Draft weekend, as could Cody Franson. But as Shoalts notes, there’s no easy answers. If the Leafs miss the playoffs, expect speculation about the club to dominate the rumor mill come June and July.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Tony Gallagher speculates over potential changes after this season for the Canucks. David Booth is considered by some a compliance buyout candidate, but of late he’s been one of the Canucks’ best forwards, suggesting retaining him would only be a one-year gamble. If they don’t trade Alex Edler, it could make Jason Garrison a buyout candidate, though he has more years and money remaining on his contract compared to Booth. If they trade Ryan Kesler he suspects they’ll want a center in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Booth is inconsistent and often injured. He’s not worth the gamble. If the Canucks intend to shake things up, don’t do it by half-measures. This team needs to rebuild around the Sedins and Kevin Bieksa.