Latest on Ryan Miller, Dmitry Kulikov, Michael Del Zotto, Paul Stastny, T.J. Oshie, Craig Anderson and more.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Maple Leafs are believed shopping around for help at center with Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland sidelined. They were thought to have interest in Stars center Vernon Fiddler earlier this year but couldn’t get a deal worked out. Garrioch claims Fiddler may have asked for a trade more than once but the Stars can’t find the right fit…The Panthers are trying to move Dmitry Kulikov but there’s concerns he might “head back to the KHL” as a RFA…The Rangers seek a top-four defenseman in return for Michael Del Zotto. Garrioch speculates the Rangers could use their remaining compliance buyout in June on a “struggling” Brad Richards to free up cap space to re-sign other key players…The Canadiens are seeking size down the middle…If the Predators can’t stay in the playoff race, management could start dumping salary following the Olympic break…The Islanders are shopping for a goalie and the Sabres’ Ryan Miller could be a target. Miller has submitted a list of ten clubs he won’t accept a trade to but it’s unknown if the Isles are on it. Garrioch claims word around the league is the Blues could make a push for Miller and could offer up T.J. Oshie…The Blackhawks are seeking a depth center and blueliner…The Hurricanes have interest in Toronto’s Jake Gardiner and the Rangers Michael Del Zotto…The Blue Jackets are trying to change their forward mix.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Latest I’d heard Fiddler was off the trade market, but of course things can change…Kulikov only played a half -season in the KHL during the lockout. He played his junior hockey in the QMJHL before joining the Panthers. He could use the KHL as leverage in contract negotiations next summer, but I believe his preference is to remain in the NHL…Richards is hardly “struggling”, as his 23 points in 30 games are well ahead of last season’s pace. Still, one shouldn’t dismiss the possibility Richards gets a compliance buyout if the cost of re-signing key players puts a squeeze on the Rangers cap space…It was rumored Habs GM Marc Bergevin wanted to make a major move, but with his club playing so well of late (9-0-1 in their last ten) there’s no need to shake things up…One player the Predators could move is David Legwand if it appears he could test the UFA market in July…Again, I’ll be shocked if Miller would accept a trade to the Islanders. The Blues won’t make a pitch for Miller as long as Jaroslav Halak (15-5-2, 2.24 GAA, .910SP) is playing well. And they won’t part with T.J. Oshie, who has 25 points in 28 games and is third in scoring. Even if they did move Oshie ($4.175 million cap hit), the Blue still won’t have the cap space for Miller’s $6.25 million cap hit. If the Blues really want Miller, why not wait until next summer when he’s a UFA? Granted, he’d be expensive, but they’d have the cap space (their only significant re-signing next summer is Alexander Steen) to sign him without giving up a couple of key players…I don’t think the ‘Canes can pry Gardiner out of Toronto, and they lack an affordable top-four blueliner (Tim Gleason makes $4 million per) to offer up for Del Zotto.
CBC.CA (VIA KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports the Canadiens are working with P.K. Subban’s agents in hopes of getting a new deal done. He noted one GM joked Subban’s price won’t get cheaper given his play. No comments from the Leafs and Dion Phaneuf’s agents regarding his contract talks. Glenn Healy reports he’s heard Subban is seeking an eight-year, $8.7 million per season deal. Friedman believes the reason the Panthers scratched Dmitry Kulikov last week because they had a deal in place (possibly with the Colorado Avalanche) but the deal fell apart. He also reported Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford may be reluctant to shake up his roster as they’re playing well of late. He could keep Justin Peters in the lineup and carry three goalies as he doesn’t want to lose one via waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban is now an established superstar with a Norris Trophy on his resume. Considering what Kris Letang got from the Penguins last summer as a runner-up for the Norris, it’s no surprise the Subban camp is seeking over $8 million per. I believe the Habs just want to try to get the dollars closer to $8 million per rather than over $8.5 million per. I also found it suspicious Kulikov was a healthy scratch last week, as teams usually don’t do that to a player they’re trying to showcase. Kulikov could be moved before the December 19 trade freeze. The Hurricanes have won three in a row and climbed to four points of a playoff berth, which would explain Rutherford’s reluctance to shake things up right now.
DENVER POST: Adrian Dater acknowledged the Colorado Avalanche need to bolster their defense, especially with Jan Hejda now sidelined with a leg injury, but doesn’t believe they should mortgage their future to do so. He pointed out the Avs were linked to the Panthers’ Dmitry Kulikov in the rumor mill, and the availability of the Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto. Dater also noted the Avs still face a decision on the future of pending UFA center Paul Stastny.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The obvious suggestion would be Statsny as trade bait for a quality blueliner, but he’s been playing well this season and they could be reluctant to move him. The Rangers’ asking price for Del Zotto is a top-four defenseman so that rules out the Avs. Kulikov is an attractive option but the Panthers could want a good young player in return.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple has suggestions for the NY Islanders if they decide to rebuild again, calling upon management to move Thomas Vanek for a big return as soon as possible. He also believes they should plug in prospects like Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome, as well as making a move to improve their goaltending. He suggests trading oft-injured defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and struggling winger Michael Grabner, but believes the Isles should retain and re-sign blueliner Andrew MacDonald.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After such a promising performance last season the Islanders have fallen apart, largely due to their injury-decimated blueliner and management’s puzzling re-signing of an ageing Evgeni Nabokov, who is also now sidelined. It remains to be seen if GM Garth Snow will take Staple’s advice.
BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa claims the Ottawa Senators had hoped to trade goalie Craig Anderson, who has one season left on his contract and doesn’t fit into their long-term plans. His struggles this season, however, has hurt his trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can think of one time who might still have interest in Anderson. Rhymes with “Highlanders”.