The latest on Kris Letang, Daniel Briere, Jonathan Bernier, Bobby Ryan, the Avalanche’s plans with the first overall pick, the Senators trade plans and much more.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun report a source says Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero is set to meet agent Kent Hughes, who represents defenseman Kris Letang, today in Boston. Hughes lives in Boston and Shero is attending the NHL GMs meeting in that city. LeBrun speculates Shero could shop Letang if the blueliner rejects the Penguins offer. LeBrun doubts Letang signs for less than $7 million per season…A source told LeBrun Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren informed Daniel Briere last week the veteran forward would be bought out, but Flyers management remains uncertain over buying out Ilya Bryzgalov…In the wake of the Red Wings re-signing Pavel Datsyuk, it remains uncertain if they’ll re-sign Valtteri Filppula…The Flyers are believed among five teams are believed to have serious interest in LA Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier…Henrik Lundqvist’s agent is expected to meet with Rangers management next week to talk contract extension…Contract talks are ongoing between the Kings and pending UFA blueliner Rob Scuderi…Carolina Hurricanes backup Dan Ellis intends to test the UFA market.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Rob Rossi speculates over Letang’s future with the Penguins, doubting they’ll pay him more than $6 million per season, and suggesting Shero won’t waste time making a decision over Letang’s future. He feels the blueliner could ultimately be dealt, as Penguins coaches and management don’t consider him their best defenseman. Rossi also believes Letang’s desire for a no-movement clause is another reason his fate could be sealed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Up until I read Rossi’s piece, I felt Letang was certain to be re-signed by the Penguins. I’m not that certain anymore. If he’s willing to accept a “hometown discount”, a deal could get done. Otherwise, with the draft weekend fast approaching, and Shero’s previous history of moving out a notable player unwilling to accept a lesser offer (Jordan Staal), Letang could indeed end up on the move by the end of next weekend. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Shero begins fielding inquiries during or immediately following today’s NHL GMs meeting. If they ship out Letang, however, they will be left with a big hole to fill on their blueline. I realize they’ve got some promising young defensemen, but they would miss Letang’s offensive contributions, which could push them into the trade or free agent market for an affordable replacement.
DENVER POST: Adrian Dater reports Colorado Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic said the club is leaning toward selecting one of the top three forwards in this year’s draft (Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin or Alexander Barkov) rather than defenseman Seth Jones. Sakic said the club feels the chance to select one of those three forwards is too good to pass up. Dater subsequently wondered if Sakic was bluffing, cautioning the Avs passing over Jones could blow up in their faces.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A major swerve by the Avalanche. They need a promising young blueliner like Jones, who learned his hockey while growing up in Denver and admired Sakic as a kid. Indeed, he seems a perfect fit. I understand how attractive MacKinnon, Drouin and Barkov are, but passing over Jones could be a big mistake. If they do pick one of those forwards, I’m assuming they have a plan in place to address their defensive needs via trade and/or free agency.
CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio reports the Flyers intend to buy out Danny Briere, while GM Paul Holmgren “strongly denied” a report claiming Ilya Bryzgalov would not. Panaccio also reported a Kings sources claimed the Flyers had contacted them about goalie Jonathan Bernier, though they didn’t get the impression the Flyers were done with Bryzgalov. Panaccio believes Holmgren could offer up winger Matt Read for Bernier, but the Kings would likely want Jakub Voracek. Panaccio also reported two sources claim the Anaheim Ducks are quietly shopping forward Bobby Ryan and the Flyers are among those with interest. One trade scenario had the Flyers sending defenseman Braydon Coburn and the 11th overall pick to the Ducks for Ryan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holmgren is starting to become a less crazy version of Mike Milbury. OK, the Briere buyout is understandable, especially since they’ve signed Mark Streit, as they need to clear cap space. Interest in Bernier is also understandable, and if they could get a deal in place before or during the buyout period, it’s bye-bye Bryzgalov. Pursuing Ryan? And offering up Coburn as part of the return? Yikes! Unless Holmgren’s working on a deal in which he’d move one of his better young forwards (Voracek?) for Bernier and another good young forward (Read? Couturier? Schenn?) for another good defenseman, parting with Coburn for Ryan makes no sense. It remains to be seen if anything comes of these trade rumors, but it certainly ensures the Flyers will once again make the week leading up to the draft an interesting one.
TORONTO SUN/NEWSDAY/TVASPORTS: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers are believed among the front-runners for Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier, while the NY Islanders are also believed in the hunt. Bernier, meanwhile, acknowledged he could be dealt in the coming weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The expectation is Bernier should be dealt by draft day on June 30th at the latest. It’s possible he could be traded in the days leading up to the draft. The Islanders could certainly use him, while the Flyers could have more attractive trade pieces (see above) to offer. I know the Leafs have long been interested in Bernier, but given how well James Reimer performed this season, I’m not sure how strong that interest is now, especially when their priority is finding a first-line center. Bringing in Bernier would certainly improve their goaltending depth, and perhaps lead to Reimer becoming trade bait down the road, but I don’t believe goaltending is a need which has to be addressed now.
OTTAWA SUN/OTTAWA CITIZEN: Senators GM Bryan Murray will be seeking trade partners during today’s NHL GM meeting in Boston in hopes of landing a top-six forward and moving up in the draft. He’d be willing to move one of his prospects in a package offer to move up from 17th overall in the draft, but won’t move that pick to land a scoring forward. Murray could target teams looking to shed salary to become cap compliant.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports Sabres owner Terry Pegula expressed concern about his club being able to re-sign Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, who will become unrestricted free agents next summer. Ultimately the players could have the final say in re-signing with the Sabres.