Are the Sabres and Oilers planning a major trade? Should the Flyers pursue Thomas Vanek? Which clubs could pursue Ryan Miller or Ilya Bryzgalov? Will the Senators make moves later this season?
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason commented on a recent report by Sportnet’s Nick Kypreos suggesting Sabres GM Darcy Regier is feeling the heat for his club’s poor start. Gleason also claimed there was “talk” Wednesday that “the Sabres were working on a deal with Edmonton that would send Ryan Miller or Thomas Vanek and possibly both to the Oilers in a package that would bring Nail Yakupov and more to Buffalo. Whether it actually happens is another story. ” Gleason cited Regier’s affinity for players taken high in the draft and his good relationship with Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Oilers have contacted the Sabres about Miller, but I doubt they have interest in Vanek. Miller to Edmonton doesn’t happen if they’re on his list of eight teams he won’t accept being dealt to. Vanek won’t help the Oilers struggling defense.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi believes the Flyers should pursue Vanek to bolster their struggling offense. Carchidi acknowledged the risk of parting with assets for Vanek, who could test next summer’s UFA market, plus the Flyers would have to free up salary to absorb his $7.1 million contract. He suggests GM Paul Holmgren’s job could depend on making a move to improve his struggling club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres would probably want one of the Flyers young forwards (Couturier, Schenn) as part of the return. I doubt they’d have interest in taking on Andrej Meszaros’ salary for this season. Holmgren would have to get creative to make such a deal work, and it would certainly be a gamble given Vanek’s UFA status next summer. Such a move would smack of desperation.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance lists five clubs (Edmonton, Carolina, Dallas, Minnesota and NY Rangers) which could be in need of goaltending help as possible suitors for either Ryan Miller or Ilya Bryzgalov. The Oilers goaltending woes are well-documented, the Hurricanes recently lost Anton Khudobin to injury, Stars starter Kari Lehtonen is sidelined by a lower-body injury, ageing Wild starter Nicklas Backstrom (knee) is “an injury waiting to happen at this stage of his career”, and the Rangers lack an experienced backup for Henrik Lundqvist. Bryzgalov, meanwhile, has completed his PTO contact with the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers, and is now awaiting “the right NHL job”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pursuing Miller would be more costly for any of those clubs than Bryzgalov, plus there’s also the issue of his salary and modified NTC. The Wild will stick with Josh Harding just as they did last season. As long as Khudobin isn’t sidelined for weeks or months, I doubt the Hurricanes go shopping for a backup for Cam Ward. The Stars could be in trouble if the oft-injured Lehtonen is sidelined for a significant period. Rangers GM Glen Sather said he has no interest in signing Bryzgalov as a backup for Lundqvist, and we know he won’t go after Miller with Lundqvist as his starter.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said his club’s $110 million in financial losses over the past decade won’t prevent him from approving a trade at the March trade deadline if it would help his club.