Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 6, 2013.

The latest on Paul Stastny, Matt Niskanen,  Radim Vrbata and Martin Erat, plus my take on the Nashville Predators early scoring woes.

Is this Paul Stastny's last season with the Avalanche?

Is this Paul Stastny’s final season with the Avalanche?

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater reports Paul Stastny could be the odd center out with the Colorado Avalanche by season’s end. Dater points out the Avs currently have Matt Duchene under a long-term contract, rookie Nathan MacKinnon could blossom into a superstar and fourth-liner John Mitchell “probably deserves to be moved up another level”. He believes if the Avs re-sign Stastny (who’s slated to become a UFA this summer), it could cut into the minutes of Duchene and MacKinnon, or he could end up playing fewer minutes.  Dater feels Stastny is too talented to be slated to a third-line role. He suggests Stastny could be shopped by the trade deadline if the Avs are out of playoff contention, but also suggested if the club is in playoff contention the center could be shopped for depth elsewhere, like defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t forget they also moved Ryan O’Reilly from center to left wing this season. I’ll be surprised if the Avs re-sign Stastny, simply because there’s too many good young centers on the club who’re likely to outplay him over the long run. His cap hit this season ($6.6 million) likely means the Avs can’t move him until later in the season, when over half that salary has been paid out, unless they agree to pick up part of his salary as part of a trade. During this summer, Stastny was linked to the Maple Leafs, Flyers and Oilers, but the only fit I see out of those three is the Leafs if they feel they need a first-line center for Phil Kessel. That, however, isn’t a given.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Rob Rossi reports Matt Niskanen, who was considered by some observers to be off-season trade bait to help the Pittsburgh Penguins get cap compliant, has assumed a top-four role with Kris Letang currently sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Tomas Vokoun on LTIR, the Penguins have no reason to dump salary now. They also wanted to keep Niskanen for his skills and experience, particularly for instances like this when injuries take a bite out of the defense corps. I don’t see the Penguins shopping him any time soon, if at all, this season.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Sarah McLellan recently reported the Phoenix Coyotes and the agent for Radim Vrbata have decided to shelve contract extension talks until season’s end. Vrbata is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’s in the final year of a three-year, $9 million contract. Agent Rich Evans claims his client wants to focus upon his performance this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s mutual desire by Vrbata and Coyotes management to get a deal done, but it’s apparent the latter would like to first gauge his performance this season.  New ownership could also be waiting to see how well the club performs before committing bigger bucks for Vrbata. Barring a massive overhaul of the roster, I can see the two sides reaching an agreement before next July. 

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Ryan Dadoun recently observed Washington Capitals winger Martin Erat was frustrated over his lack of playing time in the club’s first two games, and was largely restricted to fourth line duty. “For his part, Erat’s willing to “do what’s best for the team.” He still has two seasons left on his contract with a $4.5 million annual cap hit. That should be plenty of motivation for a Capitals team up against the salary cap to come with a solution to this problem.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Erat saw only 8.27 of ice time during the Capitals 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Even if the Capitals wanted to shop him, his contract (two years remaining at an annual cap ht of $4.5 million, with $5.5 million this season in actual salary) will prove very difficult to move unless they agreed to pick up half of it. Even then, his limited performance won’t help his trade value.  Unless his playing time and performance improves throughout the season, Erat could be a compliance buyout candidate next summer. 

THE TENNESSEAN: There’s concern over the Nashville Predators scoring following their 0-2 start to the season. One reason for their offensive struggles is early season injuries to Viktor Stalberg and Filip Forsberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet that the Predators are shopping for offensive help, but if they continue to struggle this month, they could hit the trade market.  Keep an eye on this club throughout October. Perhaps they’ll have some interest in Paul Stastny? They could draw from their blueline depth. And no, they won’t part with Shea Weber or Seth Jones for Stastny. 


  1. AVS –
    Hey Lyle …Good reminder to the crowd that ORielly is a Center which means that either Orielly and his hold out may harbour bad feelings that will push him out in Feburary …or Stastny is the odd man out …Id say the later is the better situation as you’ve stated …Stastny has not been as productive to earn a raise or maintain his present salary where Orielly has and will …I know there isnt a lot of 1st or second line centers out there to be had but Iam not so sure he is a good fit in Leaf land at this point …it may have been a better idea 2 years ago when rumours were rampent ….not anymore !!!

    I ve like Niskanen …hes pretty versatile …and is a very good skater which is Pitt is known for they have a very good skating team !!

    WOW…..did Nashville ever rob the Caps on that deal !! …….What was McPhee thinking ??
    Lucky they have good ole Grabo now !! …ON FIRE!!!

    SPECIAL NOTE ::: Philly is in trouble …..Holmgren and Laviolete are in deep trouble !!
    Do you fire Holmgren before he makes one of his blockbuster moves and gets rid of Cutourier or Schenns…..

    They need an Impact Defenseman …and Goalie

    ( Shea Weber )
    Luke Schenn
    Sean Cutourier
    1st round draft pick
    & 2nd rounder if Flyers make the Stanley Cup Finals

    …and a Goalie

    ( Hiller ) & Smaby
    Erik Gustafson
    2 nd round pick

    • Back Checking
      As a Ducks fans I’d jump at the Hiller trade but don’t think the Flyers would.
      Instead of Smaby most likely someone LIKE a Lovejoy would be asked for.
      For the Ducks it does fit the bill, Don’t have the Hiller headache of resigning him,
      Anderson can be moved up from AHL, Gustafson is another young D-man to develop and next years draft could be deep, so having (2) number ones and (2) number twos would open up a lot of options.

  2. please no lyle, not Statsny to Leafs rumours again. lol though he would have been a good fit with leafs but avs would have had to take salary back say liles plus.

    • Liles Gardiner and Kulimen for Stasney could work as far as Salaries go not sure if I was Sakic if I want any part of Liles for 3 years but Gardiner could help that D moving the puck up to those forwards and Kuli could really be a compliment to the young guys who are offensively gifted but will take some time to round out to complete 200 ft game. Or if Varlamov was to stumble (he looked great against the Ducks the other night) possibly would they have some interest in Reimer instead of Kuli. One thing for sure The Leafs still need a number 1 center (same story now for about 15 years and counting)

      • If your the leafs why do you want any part of that trade?? As stated statsny is no longer a number 1 centre.. So your trading for a more expensive bozak? And then once you get statsny you have kadri, bozak, mcclement and bolland. So now your in a spot where your trading or not resigning a cheaper defensive guy in bolland or mcclement and eating more salary up when In 2 years hopefully kadri is that #1 guy..

        • Bozak 26 years old 241 gp 54 g 82 a 136 pts playing with a top line with good players

          Stasney 27 years old 469 gp 135 g 264a 399 pts playin top 2 lines on a craptastik team for the most part

          There is no comparison between Bozak and Stasney. He is no longer a number 1 center or 2 for that matter in Col. only because they have Duchene and McKinnon who are young star centers offensively gifted and he is the most suited to play 3rd line out of the 3 he is pretty good defensively too. plus as bc mentioned Oreilly playing wing. I doubt he lost his talent a change of scenery and playing him in a familiar role with players he is familiar with (JVR and Phil from U.S.A. Camps) and as a number 1 is probably all he needs to start producing the way he has in the past. Im not a big fan of the salary but Bozak is not a number 1 center neither is Kadri or Bolland, both of them have in the past and still could play wing. Stasney Bozak Bolland (or vice versa) McClement with Kadri on the wing cause he cant win a faceoff to save his life anyway.

          • JVR Stasney Kessel
            Lupul Bolland Clarkson
            Raymond Bozak Kadri (Bozak and Raymond are good defensively)
            McClemment and the thugs

            Randy likes to mix guys around but for the most part I could see this working out alright Kadri could slide up to Bollands spot and vice versa interchangeable parts.

            Ashton or Bodie as the 13th man

      • As a leaf fan, this trade makes no sense to me. The leafs will be giving up a high end defensive prospect+ a solid two way player for a salary dump and a player under 28yrs old and already in his decline. The problem here is that statsny when drafted was projected to be a numbe robe centre, but in reality he is a very solid second line centre. Before you rip me on that comment just look at his numbers. I don’t think statsny has ever cracked 70points. Also the leafs would be stupid to inherit a 6.6 million dollar second line centre. If it was for duchene I would take the trade, but I doubt Colorado would let him go.

        • At some point we will need a number 1 center is what Im getting at and yes Gardiner is a good young pmd so is Reilly Franson Percy Ranger can move the puck pretty well Percy could be good…see a trend here? One of them is going to need to be moved to address other needs McClemment and Bolland UFA at the end of the year which leaves Bozak and Kadri only 1 of em can win a face off but has no hands the other has hands but cant win a faceoff and what happens if Bollands back acts up and Kadri gets hurt? Going to have a 1-2 punch of Bozak and McClement? No saying what Stasny will get for a contract next but its probably not going to be more than it is now in fact probably less he could be a good fit.
          Finally just because they paid Bozak 4.25 does not mean be is a shoe in for a number 1 or 2 center look at Bolland made 3.75 and played quite a bit on the third line in Chicago.

          • I guess my point is more towards is statsny a true number one centre? I don’t think so… So if not why use valuable assets to obtain a guy who will fill a role we already have filled… Yes your right statsny has put up better numbers then bozak, but Unless we are trading bozak somewhere I’d rather have bozak, Kadri, bolland and mcclement for the next 3 years then statsny, bozak and Kadri making potentially 5 + mill each in 3 years time…

          • Typo… 4+ mill in 3 years time… And you can probably add bolland to that list as he will probably get a raise…

          • If Bolland keeps going the way he currently is unless he really really wants to stay in Toronto he will be leaving as a UFA. He will get quite a bit more somewhere else. Tough to say

          • Ya your probably right… Going to be interesting to see how it all plays out with the ufa’s….

        • He has had 3 seasons over 70 pts and only 1 seasons where he didnt get 50 mostly due to injuries 08/09 he had 35 pts in 45 games last year was on pace for 50 playing on the second line. None of the centers we currently have even come close to 50 pts (srry Bolland has 1 season over 40) Bozak has yet to get more than 35 pts. Name a true number 1 center in the league that might be available thru a trade. Next try and think of one that would be available for the type of assets that the Leafs would be willing to give up, there are not many if any other options, and as I said it could be a decent fit.

          • Isn’t jumbo joe a ufa, not saying I want him but he’s still a 1c.

      • Gardiner isn’t going anywhere, and if he does, it is for a high prospect not a pending uFa, stop the gardiner rumors, it is 3 games in, he has high upside

        • Has nothing to do with his play during the first 3 games, high upside or not, one of the D should and probably will be moved at some point to get a center. It will have to be a good one him or Franson makes the most sense to get some type of top 2 center prospect or not. You have to give something of value to get something decent. Liles AHL prospects or third round draft picks isnt going to get it done. As you said its only 3 games in 3 wins a great start but once the season moves on a bit and if we get a couple injuries it could turn around in a hurry if we dont address a glaring hole in the line up. Leaf nation at its finest weve won 3 in a row dont trade anyone we are going to win a cup just the way we are…lol

  3. Avalanche – I don’t see a reason why the Avs would re-sign Stastny in the offseason. I’m sure if he was on a team where he could play a more prominent role he would put up much more points than he has been lately. Look for him to sign with someone else on July 1, probably for 4.5 mil

    Niskanen – I think trading Niskanen is an incredibly stupid idea, he is probably the second most talented d-man on the pens next to orpik (in terms of defensive play) .

    Vrbata – the Phoenix Coyotes better get him re-signed before July 1, as he is a very important player to the team. They win more when he’s healthy. And lose far more when he’s injured.

    Erat – This poor dude Haha. I bet he wants noting more than to play with the predators again. He was great for that team, and I bet he still in good, he Just needs appropriate playing time

  4. Stastny would be a good fit on the Flames. They have lots of cap room to sign him and he would be on one of the top lines.

    • Yes but they need something to trade…

  5. I would not be surprised to see Erat return to Nashville. He always has been very good there, and Nashville needs the scoring. But it’s a long season, and he may prove himself in Washington yet…it’s early….

  6. the heck with stansty i say go after duchene avs might need goaltending as well so like reimer and gardner maye a 2nd for duchene offseason of course maybe deadline but both reimer and gardner are rfa so col can sign them for a good rate still young good for rebuild if not accelerates it and the leafs get that home town boy for first line center it addresses all needs especially if mackinnioin proves to be something special and orielly is more than capable of second line duties could make alot of sense for bothteams around draft day

  7. The fact that the Leafs resigned Bozak means that the team is resigned to having him in a top 2 centre role. That is where his salary slots in. He will never be a high calibur/high ceiling offensive centre but he does all the other things well (did anyone see him whiff on the JVR pass tap in lol).

    Unless a team is taking Kadri or Bozak back in a deal I don’t see Leafs in the market for a topline centre.

  8. If the Caps buy out Erat, it means that they gave away Forsberg for nothing! The GM should be shot for that.

  9. I said it last year and I am glad Lyles brought it up here, best spot for Stastny is Nashville (I also said Phoenix last year, but they got Riberio).

    The Predators can look at moving a Klein, Ellis, or even Josi to help improve their offense and still have a deep defense.

  10. Lyle,
    according to capgeek Erat’s actual money is $3.75 mil (’13-’14) & $2.25 mil (’14-’15), the $5.5 mil was for last season. I do not see any problem as long as Erat agrees to waive his NMC. I could see Erat fitting in with the Coyotes and the possibility of the Cap’s gaining defensive help.

  11. Pens still need to dump almost 2.3 mil in cap space when/if Vokoun returns. Convenient that Niskanen’s cap hit is $2.3 mil? Just a thought.

  12. Now that both assets have devalued I wonder if Washington and Nashville would be willing to untrade Injured Forsberg and Underperforming Erat to bolster their offence? Would keep us rumor-types entertained…

  13. Leaf fans should actually watch a player play instead of just reading statistics. As an Avs fan who has watched him play 82+ games a season since he came to the Avs, I can tell you that you have no idea what your talking about. 28 years old and in his prime. Regardless of numbers Stastny (as it is actually spelled) is not in “decline”. But coming from a fan base that starts souring on their own players as soon as that “new player smell” begins to fade, I am not surprised when you turn your noses up at any player that is not the immediate center of attention. You Leafers suffer from that idealistic “the grass is always greener wherever you are not”. You Leaf fans would find a way to be unhappy with winning the cup I’m sure.

    I just feel bad for Paul Stastny because he plays in Colorado where the hockey world only takes a peek now and then, and where Adrian Dater writes to hear himself think and never understands that he knows nothing about the speculation he spouts off at a whim.

    And as always, the Avs want nothing the leafs have to offer. Nobody wants any of that.