Latest on the Flyers, Ryan Miller, Robin Lehner, Michal Neuvirth and Matt Niskanen. Enjoy!

Could Sean Couturier become trade bait?

Could Sean Couturier become trade bait?

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector (No relation) reports on the Philadelphia Flyers early season woes and wonders if they might make a major trade in the coming weeks. Spector noted the equally struggling Edmonton Oilers have the scoring wingers (Ales Hemsky, Nail Yakupov) Flyers GM Holmgren seeks, “and a shopping list that includes size and grit (Wayne Simmonds), a defenceman (Braydon Coburn), or a young centreman with some size (Sean Couturier).”  Spector also notes the equally floundering Buffalo Sabres have a scoring winger in Thomas Vanek who’s a pending UFA next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: First off, I think the Flyers would have more interest in Yakupov than the injury-prone, expensive ($5 million) Hemsky. The Oilers would undoubtedly have interest in Simmonds, Coburn or Couturier. Of that trio, Coburn is now least likely to move because the Flyers have blueline issues of their own, and they like Simmonds gritty style. That could leave Couturier, once considered untouchable, as the more likely trade candidate.

Vanek would certainly help the Flyers offense, but his UFA status and the perception he’ll sign with the Minnesota Wild next summer makes him a risky acquisition, unless the Flyers could get him to first agree to re-sign with them as a condition of the trade.

Question is, would a trade among any of these struggling teams actually help them, or would it be merely rearranging the deck chairs on two sinking ships? 

TORONTO SUN: Chris Stevenson questions the speculation linking Buffalo’s Ryan Miller to the Edmonton Oilers, noting they’re on his list of eight “no-trade” teams. Stevenson noted Miller would prefer playing for a Southern California team to be closer to his actress-wife, but pointed out those clubs appear set in goal for the foreseeable future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Miller wants to be closer to his wife, but also wants to play for a winner.  At 33, he doesn’t have many seasons left, and I believe he wants a chance to win a Stanley Cup.  If he could land with a Western team that’s at least a perennial playoff team (unlike the Oilers), he could okay such a move.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Ken Warren acknowledged Senators backup Robin Lehner’s name popping up in recent trade rumors but doesn’t believe the club will move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Warren noted, the Senators are grooming Lehner as their future starter. He’s not going anywhere.

CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Chuck Gormley observed a high number of scouts (representing 16 teams) attended the recent NY Rangers- Capitals game, as well as recent rumors linking Capitals backup Michal Neuvirth to the Edmonton Oilers. Gormley wondered if Neuvirth might fetch left-handed Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smid’s among the few reliable blueliners the Oilers have. I’m not sure they’d be willing to part with him for an unproven starter like Neuvirth.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen, who’s done an admirable job filling in for the injured Kris Letang, hopes to re-sign with the club after this season. Niskanen will be eligible for UFA status next summer, but the Penguins don’t negotiate contracts during the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Niskanen was the subject of trade speculation this summer, but his strong performance this season probably means the Penguins will retain him for the rest of this season.