The latest on the Blues, Red Wings, Stars and Capitals.
STLTODAY.COM: Following the Blues elimination from the playoffs, Jeff Gordon believes GM Doug Armstrong must cycle out some veterans, promote some high-end prospects and prepare for another playoff run. He doubts the Blues re-sign playoff rental Ryan Miller, who didn’t have a memorable series. Armstrong could promote promising Jake Allen and re-sign reliable Brian Elliott. He suggests re-signing Steve Ott if he can be had for a reasonable contract. He doesn’t advocate blowing up the roster. Jeremy Rutherford also reports the Blues playoff failure shifts the focus onto Miller’s future. Miller said contract talks with the Blues have never become very serious but said he would be interested in staying with St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller proved a disappointment for the Blues, failing to help them advance in the playoffs. At 34, his best years are likely behind him now. He could have difficulty finding a lucrative long-term contract this summer. With so little goaltending depth available this summer, the Blues could elevate Jake Allen and see how well he performs next season.
ESPN.COM/MLIVE.COM/DETROIT NEWS: Craig Custance believes the Detroit Red Wings should go big in free agency this summer to bring in an impact defenseman and a scoring winger. The Wings will have nearly $20 million in cap space this summer to work with. Free agent defense options including Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle, while Vancouver’s Alex Edler and Buffalo’s Christian Ehrhoff are trade possibilities. Free agent scorers include Thomas Vanek, Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Matt Moulson and Jaromir Jagr. Ansar Khan reports the Red Wings biggest off-season needs are “a goal-scoring winger, preferably with decent size, and a top-four defenseman, preferably a right-handed shooter.” Wings GM Ken Holland he’d certainly like to add a top-four right-handed defenseman. Bob Wojnowski notes the lack of talent in this summer’s UFA market, believing it will take bold moves by the Wings to address their needs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bold moves would mean trades, and that would mean parting with a couple of their promising young players. The Canucks asking price for Edler (if there is one, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause) would be a good young forward being part of the return. I would imagine the Sabres would seek the same for Ehrhoff.
ESPN.COM/DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In the wake of the Dallas Stars elimination from the playoffs, Craig Custance believes management should construct a legitimate second line to take pressure off the top line, add another veteran defenseman and trade veteran blueliner Sergei Gonchar, even if it means picking up of his $5 million salary for next season. Mike Heika doesn’t expect pending free agents Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler will be re-signed. He also believes the Stars should consider other moves with veterans still under contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have $20 million in cap space to address their secondary scoring and blueline needs. GM Jim Nill showed a willingness last summer to make bold moves (Tyler Seguin trade) so don’t be surprised if he goes shopping against this summer. I expect he’ll try to land affordable talent, which could keep him out of the bidding for expensive free agent stars. As for Gonchar, even offering to eat part of his salary probably won’t attract much interest in the 40-year-old, whose performance has understandably declined. Perhaps a compliance buyout would be the better way to go.
ESPN.COM/CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Craig Custance and Chuck Gormley wonder if Capitals owner Ted Leonsis would give whoever takes over as the club’s new general manager the leeway to trade franchise player Alexander Ovechkin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect whoever the Capitals hire will try to build around Ovechkin. Sure, a trade is always possible but I suspect highly unlikely at this point.