The latest on the Blues, Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Stars.
ESPN.COM/BUFFALO NEWS: Craig Custance believe the St. Louis Blues shouldn’t bother re-signing Ryan Miller and instead promote promising Jake Allen. He also suggests re-signing Brian Elliott as a possibility or perhaps signing Anaheim’s pending UFA Jonas Hiller if the price is right. Custance also believes they should pursue Colorado’s Paul Stastny if he hits the UFA market and promote Dmitrij Jaskin. Mike Harrington wonders what the future holds for former Sabres and Blues’ pending UFAs Ryan Miller and Steve Ott. He believes the Sabres could be interested in bringing back Ott for a reasonable price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller’s performance against the Blackhawks will certainly hurt his market value. At 34 and with his best seasons seemingly behind him, he could have a tough time finding a club willing to invest big bucks in him over a long-term deal. I fully expect Allen to be promoted by the Blues, but it’ll be interesting to see if they retain Elliott (who’s also a UFA) or look at a different, short-term option like Hiller. As for Stastny, he claims he’ll accept a hometown discount to remain with the Avs. Given his solid performance in this year’s playoffs, it wouldn’t shock me if the Avalanche re-sign him.
MLIVE.COM/DETROIT FREE PRESS: Ansar Khan reports the Red Wings biggest need this summer is adding a top-four right-handed defenseman. Free agent options could include Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen, San Jose’s Dan Boyle, Phoenix’s Derek Morris, New Jersey’s Marek Zidlicky and Florida’s Tom Gilbert. They could also use a “decent-sized winger with scoring ability”. Options could include “Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Jarome Iginla, Jaromir Jagr and Devin Setoguchi.” He doesn’t believe the Wings will buy out the remainder of Johan Franzen’s contract and doesn’t expect David Legwand to be re-signed. Daniel Alfredsson could return if he doesn’t retire. Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson won’t be back and Kyle Quincey could also depart. They would like to re-sign Jonas Gustavsson but he’s injury-prone. Other backup options include Boston’s Chad Johnson, Nashville’s Carter Hutton and Winnipeg’s Al Montoya. Forward Joakim Andersson and defenseman Jakub Kindl could become trade options. Of the Red Wings pending UFAs, Helene St. James believes only Alfredsson could return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some significant changes could be coming this summer for the Red Wings, who are in the midst of a transition period as they promote more young players into key roles. They’ll certainly pursue a top-four right-handed defenseman via trade or free agent. With so many veterans coming off their books, they’ll have the cap space to address their needs. The issue is finding the right players.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance reports the Columbus Blue Jackets must decide if they’ll re-sign breakout RFA star Ryan Johansen to a long-term contract or a short-term, two-year bridge deal as they did last summer with Sergei Bobrovsky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fortunately for the Jackets Johansen is the only significant free agent signing they must make this summer. As they did a bridge deal with Bobrovsky, they’ll likely offer Johansen the same, as he has little leverage other than to threaten a holdout this fall. He and his agent could hope to receive an offer sheet if he’s still unsigned beyond July 5, but I think the two sides will work toward a new contract before then. They’ll also have over $22 million in cap space (provided they spend to the cap) to re-sign Johansen and perhaps bring in another skilled veteran or two.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Rick Gosselin believes the Dallas Stars are one player away, believing they lack a true top-two defenseman like a Zdeno Chara, Chris Chelios or Nicklas Lidstrom.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing such a player would prove very costly via trade or free agency. Management must bolster the defense corps, but those changes could come from within or more affordable acquisitions.