The Panthers are willing to shop the first overall pick in this year’s draft, plus the latest on the Avalanche, Red Wings, Flyers and Sharks.
THE SCORE: Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon told Prime Time Sports he’s willing to deal the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft. “I’m looking at everything. I’m open for business,” said Tallon. “You have three options, you either take it, move back, or trade it. So that’s what we’re looking at. What’s the best deal for our future, that’s the key.” Tallon admitted he’s definitely planning on actively shopping the pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because he’s willing to shop it doesn’t mean he will. He’s not going to just give that pick away, he’ll want a strong return. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he attempted to bundle that pick with another player to improve the return. Forget about him packaging that pick with Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Erik Gudbranson or Nick Bjugstad. Perhaps he might consider packaging that pick with Dmitry Kulikov, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. I know there’s speculation about Kulikov bolting to the KHL but his preference is staying in the NHL.
THE DENVER POST: Adrian Dater reports nobody is saying the Colorado Avalanche need an overhaul following their recent playoff elimination by the Minnesota Wild. He notes their defense needs improvement but it’s unclear where that will come from. “This year’s crop of free agents looks to be thin in quality,” writes Dater. “And some of the team’s best blue-line prospects (Chris Bigras, Duncan Siemens) might be too green to make the jump to the NHL.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seems obvious to me. If free agency or promotion from within aren’t options, then they must either make a trade or stick with their current crop and hope they improve next season. They had interest this past season in Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov. Perhaps they revisit that option. And no, I don’t believe they shop pending RFA Ryan O’Reilly for a defenseman. A possible trade chip could be winger Jamie McGinn, whose name popped up this season in the rumor mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Though Gustavsson has an injury history he played well this season as Jimmy Howard’s backup and I’ve read Wings management are interested in retaining him. Bertuzzi’s tenure with the Wings is coming to a close. At 39, his NHL career is winding down, as he managed only 16 points in 59 games.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Paul Holmgren will return next season as the Flyers’ GM. Holmgren also said he would grant a rival club permission to speak with his assistant GM Ron Hextall, but he’s hoping Hextall stays. Veteran blueliner Kimmo Timonen said he’d make a decision within a month if he intends to retire or return with the Flyers. Team president Ed Snider said he didn’t think the Nashville Predators will trade defenseman Shea Weber but if they did the Flyers would get in line to bid for his services.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weber is the Flyers’ White Whale. They nearly had him two years ago via offer sheet but he slipped from their grasp when the Predators matched the offer. Since then some in the Philadelphia media have been pining for a big trade to bring Weber to Philly. It’s obvious the Flyers’ front office would love to land him, but Predators GM David Poile repeatedly said he’s not moving Weber. If he changes his mind, I would expect the asking price to be Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, and either a top prospect or a first round pick.
MERCURYNEWS.COM: Curtis Pashelka reports pending UFAs Dan Boyle and Alex Stalock hope to re-sign with the San Jose Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Sharks’ stunning collapse against the Kings, they could cut Boyle loose and seek a younger blueliner via trade or free agency. Stalock shouldn’t be expensive to re-sign. The bigger question is if they keep Niemi and Stalock for next season, trade Niemi and re-sign Stalock, or dump both and seek other options between the pipes.