Which area of the Penguins roster needs the most help? Who stays or goes with the Blackhawks? Do the Red Wings have the cap space to pursue expensive UFA talent? Are big changes in store for the Sharks?
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW: Dejan Kovacevic suggests the Penguins core problem was their defense, believing it needs to get younger and faster. He also feels it’ll be very difficult to move blueliners Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, calling them expensive, “colossal busts”. Kovacevic doesn’t believe the Penguins core will be blown up.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Shoalts reports Penguins GM Ray Shero acknowledged his team’s poor defensive play in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers, but he’s not about to embark on a massive overhaul. Shero said he intends to speak soon with Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal, who’ll be eligible for UFA status next summer, but stopped short of saying he’ll be able to retain them and center Evgeni Malkin, who’ll be eligible for UFA status in July 2014. He also seemed to suggest he could wait for the new collective bargaining agreement to determine which direction he’ll take in the club’s plans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero will try to make some changes this summer but he won’t blow up the roster, won’t trade Crosby, Malkin and Staal, won’t trade Marc-Andre Fleury, and in all likelihood, won’t be able to move Michalek and Martin even if he wanted to, because of their expensive contracts, unless there’s some sort of amnesty buyout in the next CBA. He has over $59 million invested in 18 players for next season, which won’t give him much wiggle room regardless of the outcome of the new CBA. I expect he’ll wait until the new CBA is implemented before making serious decisions over core players like Crosby, Malkin and Staal, but will try to find ways to improve his lineup, especially his defense, before then.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Steve Rosenbloom recently noted the Blackhawks could face some big questions this summer, specifically regarding goalie Corey Crawford and their blueline depth. Chris Kuc, meanwhile, looked at which Blackhawks will be moving on this summer, believing UFAs Andrew Brunette, Brendan Morrison, Sean O’Donnell, Jamal Mayers and Sami Lepisto won’t be re-signed, while Johnny Oduya, Bryan Bickell, Steve Montador and Brandon Bollig are on the bubble.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montador has a modified NTC until July 2014 in which he must submit a list of ten teams he’d accept being dealt to, Oduya is a UFA but was praised for his play after joining the Blackhawks in a trade deadline deal, Bollig is a UFA, while Bickell has one more year at over $541K on his contract. As for Crawford, I expect the Blackhawks will give him another shot as their starting goalie next season. They’ve already re-signed Ray Emery as their backup.
DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa indicates the Red Wings have about $20 million in available cap space to pursue potential UFAs Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this summer.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports pending UFA Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom are unsure of their futures. Lidstrom said the biggest question for him is if he’ll have the motivation to train for another long NHL season, Stuart sounded unlikely of returning, while Holmstrom sound uncertain if he could physically handle another NHL season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not a certainty the Wings can sign Parise or Suter, let alone both, but the club’s stellar reputation and cap space should make them among the front runners for their services should they hit the open market on July 1st. Lidstrom might be back for one more year, but Stuart will probably sign with a California-based club, and Holmstrom will likely retire.
MERCURYNEWS.COM: David Pollak reports Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, asked if he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause, said he’ll “cross that bridge if it ever comes up”. Defenseman Dan Boyle acknowledged there’s a window opening in his “no-movement” clause but indicated he wants to stay in San Jose. Pollak also reported GM Doug Wilson will meet with Marleau to discuss his recent performance, UFA Torrey Mitchell said he’d love to re-sign but thus far there’s been no talks with Wilson, and Daniel Winnik gave no sign if he’ll test the market or re-sign with the Sharks, saying he’ll wait for the time being.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been a lot of calls of late for the Sharks to part ways with Marleau. His answer about waiving his movement clause, as Pollak noted, seems to leave some wiggle room on the matter, though he didn’t state either way his feelings on the matter. That window for moving Boyle could be tempting for Wilson, but it remains to be seen if he’ll use that opportunity or retain the blueliner. It could depend on what decision he makes with Marleau. Mitchell probably won’t be re-signed, but I suspect Winnik could gain a new contract.