Latest on Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller, Michael Del Zotto, Dmitry Kulikov, Tuomo Ruutu, Jiri Tlusty, Mikael Backlund and more.
SI.COM: Allan Muir reported on the recent NHL rumors of note, joining the ranks of those linking the St. Louis Blues to Buffalo’s Ryan Miller despite the solid play of Blues starter Jaroslav Halak. He did note the Blues currently have limited cap space to absorb Miller’s $6.25 million salary. He also noted recent speculation dogging the Rangers Michael Del Zotto and the Stars Vernon Fiddler, wondering if the Rangers might have interest in Fiddler, though the pending UFA center won’t be enough for the Stars to land Del Zotto. Muir doesn’t believe the Florida Panthers are actively shopping defenseman Dmitry Kulikov but could later in the year as there’s a sense they won’t want to pay the asking price he could seek as an RFA with arbitration rights next summer. The Oilers, Hurricanes and Red Wings are believed interest but Muir feels the Ducks could be a better fit for Kulikov. Muir also claims the Canadiens and Panthers have been “circling each other” in recent weeks, speculating the Habs might have interest in big center Shawn Matthias. As for the Brayden Schenn rumors, unless he’s part of a package offer for Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, Muir doubts he’s going anywhere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Halak’s playing well this season the Blues have no reason to part with assets to land Miller. If Halak struggles in the 2014 playoffs, the Blues will have the cap space to chase Miller via free agency. It remains to be seen if the Stars will part with Fiddler, though if so it could be closer to the trade deadline. Del Zotto will continue to be a fixture in the rumor mill, particularly if he keeps struggling under Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. Kulikov could be moved later in the season when his trade value could be higher. While the Habs need size I wonder if there’s a fit for Matthias there, as they already have Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais and Daniel Briere as centers, plus Alex Galchenyuk can also play that position. I realize they’ve played Briere recently on left wing but that doesn’t mean he’ll stay in that role.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Nashville Predators have spoken to the Anaheim Ducks about Jonas Hiller and are speaking with other clubs about a possible goalie trade. There was talk the Washington Capitals might move Michal Neuvirth but GM George McPhee won’t move him unless he gets a significant offer, like a top-four defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals won’t get that kind of offer for Neuvirth unless he’s packaged with another player. Expect him to remain Braden Holtby’s backup.
TSN’s Darren Dreger took to Twitter last night claiming the Carolina Hurricanes are shopping forward Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty in their search for a puck-moving defenseman, while four or five teams are kicking the tires on Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund, whom the Flames are willing to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take pairing Ruutu and Tlusty to land a puck-moving blueliner, but buyer beware. Ruutu has a long injury history and Tlusty is a very streaky scorer. Backlund’s time in Calgary appears to be winding down. Unless he’s packaged with another player, he’ll probably bring back a draft pick or a minor league player.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports if the Senators make a trade they don’t want to take on more money.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, if they seek a top-four defenseman or top-six winger, it’ll have to be dollar-for-dollar, or the rival club will have to take back more salary in the deal.