Latest on Ryan Johansen,Martin Brodeur, Evander Kane, Cam Ward, Brent Seabrook and Jordin Tootoo, plus the latest on the Flyers.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin examines the burning questions which remain in this NHL off-season. Larkin suggests the Columbus Blue Jackets could live to regret a bridge contract with Ryan Johansen if the young center blossoms into a superstar…He suggests Winnipeg as a possible landing spot for Martin Brodeur, but feels he’ll either wait for an injury to open a goalie spot with a team or retire…Larkin believes Evander Kane seems to want a trade out of Winnipeg. Such a move could benefit both sides…Mike Green to Detroit would make too much sense…He brings up Winnipeg again, this time as a possible landing spot for Carolina’s Cam Ward. Larkin feels he won’t cost much in return and is an upgrade over Ondrej Pavelec…It remains to be seen if the Red Wings reach an agreement with Mike Babcock on a new contract. Babcock has one year remaining on his current deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johansen had a breakout performance last season, but it seems the Blue Jackets are determined to get him signed to a bridge deal. While Johansen could cost far more down the road to re-sign if he continues to improve, I understand why the Jackets don’t want to commit too much money for too long in a promising young player. While Larkin cites P.K. Subban as a cautionary tale over how a team can regret signing players to bridge deals, there’s also many instances where teams overpaid for young talent who either failed to pan out or took longer than expected to develop. As for Subban, one reason behind that bridge contract was the Canadiens needed flexibility during the summer of 2013, when the salary cap was dropping by $6 million…
Brodeur could be waiting for a while to land with a club, but I believe he’ll eventually get signed by someone. It could indeed take waiting for a starter or backup to get hurt…The Jets seem willing to start this season with Kane in their lineup to see how he performs in a full season under coach Paul Maurice…Ward might be better than Pavelec, but his injury history is a concern. The Hurricanes could be forced to absorb part of his salary to move him, be it to the Jets or another club…Same goes for the Capitals if they shop Green…As for Babcock, if the Wings can get him re-signed before the season begins they can avoid nagging questions over his future dogging the team.
NJ.COM: Randy Miller reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall doesn’t anticipate making any moves before the start of the season. There’s speculation linking the Flyers to Winnipeg Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian. Hextall wouldn’t address that directly, maintaining he doesn’t expect anything to happen. While acknowledging his defense lacks a true number one guy, he notes 20 other NHL clubs also lack that type of blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those who are generating the rumors of the Flyers chasing Bogosian (or Shea Weber) will dismiss this by saying (correctly) that Hextall won’t tip his hand as to his plans. That being said, I’m taking Hextall at his word. He’s repeatedly stated his intent is to build from within, plus he’s got limited cap space to work with, even with Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen going on LTIR. Let’s face it, if Hextall was going to make a big trade for a number-one defenseman, he would’ve done so in late-June or early-July, when there was more cap space and more teams willing to deal. The fact he quickly signed Michael Del Zotto after Timonen was diagnosed with blood clots says all we need to know about his plans for his defense.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika, in a rolling chat with his readers, acknowledged a question about the Stars perhaps trying to take advantage of the Blackhawks limited cap space to pursue Patrick Sharp or Brent Seabrook. Given Sharp’s cap hit ($5.9 million), Heika doesn’t consider him a fit with the Stars, who have considerable salary invested in forwards like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky. Seabrook could be a better option, though Heika believes nothing will happen with him until next summer at the earliest, when Seabrook will be a year away from UFA status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blackhawks put Seabrook on the market next summer he won’t come cheap, and the Stars will find themselves in a bidding war with several clubs. There’s also no guarantee the ‘Hawks will move Seabrook next summer. They could shed salary elsewhere to free up room to retain him.