More speculation on Jaromir Jagr having interest in joining the Canadiens, Drew Stafford talks about his contract status, and more.
CJAD (via Too Many Men on the Site): Rick Moffat reported a source suggested Jaromir Jagr has put the Montreal Canadiens on his short-list of preferred NHL teams, along with Detroit, Philadelphia and the NY Rangers. GM Pierre Gauthier declined to comment on speculation, but other sources suggest Gauthier has no interest in Jagr.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman, in his recent “30 Thoughts” column, reported he had an “interesting conversation” with “an NHL front office type”, who said other teams were disappointed the Montreal Canadiens showed so much patience with forward Max Pacioretty earlier in his career, hoping the Habs would get upset with the young forward over his earlier comments and trade him.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Randy Phillips reports Canadiens pending UFA forward Mathieu Darche is hoping to return with the Habs next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hat tip to GJ Berg for the Darche link. Given how well he played for the Canadiens this season and his affordable salary it wouldn’t be surprising if the Canadiens re-sign him for at least another season. I doubt very much Gauthier has interest in the almost 40-year-old Jagr, regardless of his physical conditioning. Friedman’s source is alluding to Pacioretty’s remarks about preferring to remain in the minors earlier this season rather than be called up, which led to speculation he didn’t want to play for Jacques Martin. Given Pacioretty’s solid performance after he was called up, leading up to his season-ending injury in early March, it’s a good bet he’ll be retained.
BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reported Drew Stafford’s improvement this season couldn’t have come at a better time, as the restricted free agent could be one of the more attractive players in a weak free agent market and thus a potential target for an offer sheet. Even if he doesn’t get an offer sheet, Vogl reports Stafford is in line for a considerable raise over the $2.3 million he earned this season. Stafford meanwhile claimed he enjoyed playing in Buffalo and his expanded role with the Sabres, adding he wasn’t concerned about his contract status.
Jerry Sullivan meanwhile suggested Sabres GM Darcy Regier should dip into this summer’s free agent market to bolster the club’s defense, noting potentially available UFA blueliners include Kevin Bieksa, Tomas Kaberle, James Wisniewski and Christian Ehrhoff, singling out Bieksa and Ehrhoff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stafford could be in line for a multi-year deal worth up to $4 million per season. As for the defense, Bieksa and Ehrhoff would be tempting targets if they’re available, but the Sabres would end up in a bidding war for their services. A better target might be Wisniewski, who has a terrific shot and a physical edge. Given how much Kaberle’s value appears to be dropping, he might be available at a more affordable price than was expected before the playoffs began.