Rumor Roundup: Thomas Greiss’ success means Jaroslav Halak could hit the trade market

Thomas Greiss.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Goaltender Thomas Greiss’ solid performance filling in for sidelined starter Jaroslav Halak could spell the end of the latter’s tenure with the New York Islanders. Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports Isles GM Garth Snow sang Greiss’ praises, suggesting he’s ready to be a full-time starter.

Staple notes the Islanders currently carry three netminders with Halak, Greiss and promising J-F Berube. He points out the oft-injured Halak voiced his displeasure over the setup and suggests there’s a rift between the veteran and management.

The 31-year-old Halak has two years remaining on his contract. He could hit the trade block this summer. Staple doubts he’ll fetch much of a return and would be more of a cost-cutting deal for other roster moves.

Halak also lacks a no-trade clause and there are clubs (Calgary, Carolina, Toronto) in need of goaltending depth. However, his injury history and $4.5-million annual cap hit could adversely affect his trade value.

WHAT IS PANTHERS LONG-TERM PLAN WITH GUDBRANSON?

The Florida Panthers recent re-signing of defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a one-year, $3.5-million contract extension raised some eyebrows. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa notes the 24-year-old Gudbranson is of the age where high-end blueliners like himself get multiyear deals. Shinzawa speculates Panthers management might not be enamoured with him.

Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel claims the move was made to provide the Panthers with salary-cap flexibility for next season to re-sign rising center Vincent Trocheck. He also reports they’re among the clubs interested in former NHL winger Alexander Radulov, who spent the last four seasons in the KHL.

Gudbranson already has five seasons under his belt with the Panthers. Despite missing time this season to a concussion, he was among their leaders in hits (150), blocked shots (73) and ice time (20:06). He also averaged over 26 minutes of ice time per game in the post-season.

Gudbranson’s ongoing improvement as a shutdown defenseman should keep him part of the Panthers’ long-term plans. If not, he’ll attract considerable interest via free agency next summer.

EXPECT ONLY MINOR CHANGES TO CAPITALS IN OFF-SEASON

Don’t expect the Washington Capitals’ early playoff exit to result in a significant roster overhaul.

Earlier this week, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan addressed the media for the first time since his club’s elimination by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshuyan reports MacLellan is “pretty content” with his core. He’ll look at bolstering the third line, specifically his ninth or tenth forwards.

MacLellan also intends to get restricted free agents Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov, Tom Wilson and Michael Latta re-signed. His plans to tweak his third line could mean cutting loose unrestricted free agents Mike Richards and Jason Chimera. The 37-year-old Chimera, however, tells Khurshudyan he hopes to return with the Capitals next season.

Adding speed and scoring to the third line is crucial. The Penguins third line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel did the most damage to the Capitals in their second-round series. MacLellan will likely attempt to emulate that model.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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Florida Panthers remove GM title from Dale Tallon – but don’t worry, he’s OK with it

Ryan Kennedy
Dale Tallon (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers are coming off their most successful regular season ever, posting 100-plus points for the first time in franchise history and winning the Cats’ second division title in two decades. So of course, they moved their GM.

OK, so Dale Tallon has been promoted to the new position of president of hockey operations, but the timing is interesting. Tom Rowe is now the GM, with advanced stat guys Eric Joyce and Steve Werier as assistant GMs. From the way the Panthers are talking, this new arrangement is far from a vote of non-confidence on Tallon and more an affirmation of the democratic nature of how a modern sports team is run now.

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Panthers re-sign restricted free agent Gudbranson to one-year, $3.5-million deal

Jared Clinton
Erik Gudbranson (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson’s game took a step forward in 2015-16 and Florida has rewarded the 24-year-old blueliner with a one-year, $3.5-million contract for next season.

In his fifth full season with the Panthers, Gudbranson’s game started to finally round into the form Florida had been hoping to see from the 2010 third-overall pick. After spending the first four seasons of his career as a second- or third-pairing blueliner, Gudbranson carried a heavier load throughout the regular season, averaging more than 20 minutes per game for the first time in his career and contributing two goals and nine points along the way.

Not relied upon for offense, though, Gudbranson’s biggest contributions came defensively. He was drafted to be a big, tough, shutdown defender, and that’s exactly how the Panthers tried to utilize him this past season. On the penalty kill, he logged more than 200 minutes of ice time in 64 games and no Panthers defender who saw the same amount of ice time as Gudbranson had a higher percentage of defensive zone starts. Read more

Report: Rowe now Panthers’ GM, Tallon moved to president of hockey operations

Jared Clinton
Dale Tallon (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015-16 campaign was the best in Panthers history, but the powers that be in Florida don’t appear satisfied with simply making the post-season. After a stellar regular season that saw the Panthers win the Atlantic Division, the front office will reportedly have a new look in 2016-17.

Saturday evening, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Panthers could be moving GM Dale Tallon up the ladder to president of hockey operations, sliding Tom Rowe from associate GM to GM and putting Eric Joyce into the assistant GM role. Friedman’s report was backed up by the Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov and Miami Herald’s George Richards, who both added that Steve Werier, the Panthers’ vice president of business and legal affairs, will also get a bump up to serve as assistant GM alongside Joyce.

The shift in the front office may be surprising given Florida had the first 100-point season in franchise history, but it appears to be a move that came because the Panthers are looking “to incorporate more mathematical analysis when it comes to making roster decisions,” according to Richards. Maybe the most surprising thing about the changes, though, are that they come so soon after Tallon signed a long-term extension that will reportedly keep him a part of the Panthers’ organization until the end of the 2018-19 season. Read more

‘I’m never sore. I never get tired.’ Jaromir Jagr, 44, wants to be even better next year for Panthers

Matt Larkin
Jaromir Jagr. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

We listened and waited for Jaromir Jagr to finish laughing.

There should be no sweeter sound to a Florida Panther fan right now. Jagr spoke to reporters, including THN, on a conference call Friday a day after signing a one-year, $4-million extension with the Florida Panthers, and he had a case of the giggles. He couldn’t take seriously the concept of his body breaking down. That’s how good he feels physically, at 44, after completing his 22nd NHL season. Aging is so far off the radar that he perceives the idea almost as a joke if asked about it.

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Jaromir Jagr signs one-year deal, will continue assault on record books with Panthers

Ian Denomme
Jaromir Jagr. (Getty Images)

Jaromir Jagr is returning to the NHL for a 23rd season.

The future Hall of Famer came to terms on a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Jagr earned $3.5 million in 2015-15, and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports he’s getting a raise next year:

Jagr, 44, led the Panthers in scoring this season with 66 points in 79 games, and helped lead them to their first playoff appearance since 2011-12. They were bounced in six games by the New York Islanders.

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Former Penguin Dupuis highlights Masterton nominees

Pascal Dupuis (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

Pascal Dupuis’ career may have ended under less than ideal circumstances, but at least he has a chance to collect some hardware as a parting gift.

Dupuis retired from the NHL on Dec. 8 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins because he was suffering from blood clots. He had two goals and four points in 18 games this season before he stopped playing. Dupuis was first diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung in November 2014 and missed the rest of the 2014-15 season.

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Kopitar, Barkov and Eriksson nominated for Lady Byng Trophy

Anze Kopitar

Anze Kopitar was nominated for his second 2016 NHL award on Saturday.

The Los Angeles Kings center was named one of the three finalists for the league’s Lady Byng Trophy, given to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Kopitar is also up for the Selke Trophy for the top defensive forward.

Joining Kopitar among the final three are Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and Boston Bruins left winger Loui Eriksson.

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