More New York Rangers speculation, plus the latest on the Avalanche and Oilers.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/NEW YORK POST: Pat Leonard reports Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was non-committal over re-signing with the club when his contract expires next summer, preferring to speak with his agent first. Larry Brooks also noted Lundqvist’s remarks, but believes the Rangers will pay big dollars (suggesting eight years at $80 million) to retain him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist loves playing and living in New York, but he’ll want assurances management will build a Cup contender around him before committing long term, which I believe he will.
NEW YORK POST/ESPN.COM: Brad Richards acknowledged the possibility of a compliance buyout this summer and admitted he didn’t feel like himself for much of this season, but hopes to return with the Rangers next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As ESPN’s Katie Strang noted, salary cap constraints next season and the “cap advantage recapture rule” could play more of a role in a potential buyout that Richards’ performance this season.
DENVER POST: Adrian Dater recently reported Nathan MacKinnon’s strong performance in the 2013 Memorial Cup could make things more difficult for the Colorado Avalanche with their first overall selection in this year’s entry draft. It was widely assumed the Avs, in need of blueline depth, would select Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones, but MacKinnon’s MVP performance has some observers suggesting he’d be a better choice. Dater noted the Avs, with Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly, are already deep at center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still believe the Avs should select Jones, but if they don’t and select MacKinnon, they’ll have to work out a trade to bring in a skilled puck-moving defenseman. Sure, the automatic assumption is Stastny would be trade bait, but he’s got one year at over $6 million remaining on his contract, is eligible for UFA status next summer, and his stock has declined in recent years. They cannot move O’Reilly until February 28, one year from the date they matched the Calgary Flames offer sheet. And they would be nuts to move Duchene. Yes, MacKinnon could go on to become a superstar, but so could Jones. If they select MacKinnon, they run the risk of becoming the Colorado version of the Edmonton Oilers, top-heavy with young forwards but lacking defensive depth.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish recently claimed he’s actively shopping his first round pick, which is seventh overall in this year’s entry draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A promising goalie, an experience puck-moving defenseman or shutdown blueliner, and a physical scoring center would be of interest for the Oilers.