Rumor Roundup: Sabres’ Chris Stewart drawing major interest

Chris Stewart

Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart frequently popped up in the rumor mill this week as a possible trade candidate. Stewart, who turns 27 on October 30, is earning $4.2 million this season (with a cap hit of $4.15 million) and becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.

On Sunday, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed “lots of teams” are interested to see what Sabres GM Tim Murray will do with Stewart, fellow UFA winger Drew Stafford and defenseman Tyler Myers, who’s under contract through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.

Garrioch noted the Ottawa Senators were interested in Stewart last season, but the Sabres asking price was “Mark Stone or some other high-end prospect.” If that price hasn’t changed, Garrioch doubts the Senators will do it.

Earlier this week it was suggested in this column Stewart might be a good fit with the Boston Bruins, who are struggling this season to replace Jarome Iginla as their first-line right wing. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Bruins are indeed interested in Stewart, though he didn’t indicate if offers had been exchanged.

Assuming Murray seeks the same return as he reportedly did from the Senators (high-end prospect) for Stewart, he could have interest in center Ryan Spooner, goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman Joe Morrow or right wing David Pastrnak. The Bruins, however, currently possess $3.759 million in cap space, meaning the Sabres must either pick up nearly half of Stewart’s remaining salary or take on a salaried roster player in return.

It’s doubtful Murray will be interested in any of the Bruins potential UFA players. Chris Kelly‘s name has been mentioned as a trade candidate, but he’s a third-line center with a modified no-trade clause signed through 2015-16 at a cap hit of $3 million.

There’s no need for Murray to rush into trading Stewart, Stafford or Myers. He can simply allow this season to play out in hopes the market value for the trio improves leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.

FLIGHTLESS FLYERS SEEK BLUELINE HELP

For the second straight season the Philadelphia Flyers are off to a poor start. With only one victory in their first six games, there’s concern over the state of the Flyers defensive play. They’re 21st in shots-against per game (30.9) and possess the third-most goals-against per game (3.71) and fourth-worst in penalty-kill percentage (73.7).

Flyers GM Ron Hextall has limited cap space ($1.48 million) to bolster his defense. He’s reportedly seeking a defensive blueliner but the pickings are currently slim. Those mentioned in recent trade rumors – Carolina’s Andrej Sekera, Detroit’s Jakub Kindl and Edmonton’s Jeff Petry – aren’t considered shutdown defensemen.

It could cost Hextall one of his good young forwards to acquire a skilled stay-at-home blueliner. CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio claims the price among interested teams is Brayden Schenn, who’s in the first season of a two-year contract at an annual cap hit of $2.5 million.

The Philadelphia Flyers can’t be this bad, can they?

Ryan Kennedy
Steve Mason (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers are keeping Carolina company at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and though nothing is really surprising in that grouping, Philly clearly has the talent to be more than a basement dweller, no? Through six games, the Flyers have just one win. The underlying numbers say they’re due for a break. The eye test says they need to shape up.

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Los Angeles Kings pick Adrian Kempe brings power to The Hot List

Adrian Kempe (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The big news in the prospect world right now concerns the class-action lawsuit filed against the CHL and without going into too much detail, I think this could have a dramatic effect on junior hockey. With profits and losses so extreme across the continent, I believe a minimum wage policy would have to be supported by revenue sharing. But let’s get back on the ice, shall we? Because that’s what The Hot List is, a round-up of the kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.

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Goodbye, NHL enforcers. Believe it or not, I won’t miss you

Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

There was a time when I watched a hockey game and if there wasn’t a fight I felt ripped off.

I loved a good  scrap; so much so that when Steve Dryden offered me a position at The Hockey News in 1992, I took the job on the condition I would never have to write an anti-fighting story. I was well-aware of Dryden’s stance that there is no place for fighting in hockey and I did not share the sentiment.

How the times have changed. I have not yet completely sided with the anti-fighting movement, but I am close. Very close. I no longer have a thirst to see two huge men pound on each other even though the dinosaur in me understands why the game needs such an outlet.

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Rumor Roundup: Philadelphia Flyers shopping for blueline beast?

lukeschennwaynesimmonds

The Philadelphia Flyers suffered a scare last week when defenseman Braydon Coburn was sidelined by a lower-body injury. It raised speculation they might go shopping for blueline help if the injury was long term, but it appears he could return to action in a matter of days, rather than weeks.

For a defense corps still lacking a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury three years ago, and with Kimmo Timonen sidelined with career-threatening blood clots, the possibility of losing Coburn long term was a genuine cause for concern. Read more

The Hot List: Banned in Minnesota, thriving in Vancouver

Vancouver's Alec Baer  (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

With NCAA hockey officially in full swing, there is action aplenty to watch for in the prospect world. Boston University’s Jack Eichel and Erie’s Connor McDavid already seem to have a fantastic game of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better going on, but who else should you be watching this season? Here are some of the other names making noise right now.

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Watch Philly’s Wayne Simmonds score twice in less than a minute

Adam Proteau
Wayne Simmonds (Getty Images)

Wayne Simmonds’ Flyers team may be an ice-cold 0-2 to start the 2014-15 NHL season, but the Philadelphia right winger had his game catch fire Thursday as he scored twice in less than a minute against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

Simmonds gets his first of the season by showing some serious patience before wristing the puck past Schneider late in the second period in Philadelphia. And 56 seconds later, he pushes to the front of the Devils’ net and taps in an excellent feed from Vincent Lecavalier to beat the buzzer signalling the end of the period: Read more

Flyers owner Ed Snider talks mistakes & optimism in exclusive interview

Adam Proteau
Paul Holmgren, Ed Snider and Ron Hextall (Zack Hill/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ed Snider has heard the criticisms of the NHL team he has led for nearly five decades. He may even think there’s some credence to elements of them, but in a recent conversation with THN.com, the Flyers’ founder and the only owner the team was more than willing to publicly set the record straight about his hockey philosophies and his involvement with the team.

That the 81-year-old is willing to do so with one of his most frequent critics is a credit to him. And maybe that’s because, in the first year of Ron Hextall’s tenure as GM, Snider is confident about the team and feels as if he’s gotten back to his roots – the same roots that led to the franchise’s first (and only) two Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.

Prepare yourself for the era of Patience In Philadelphia.

“Ron Hextall has come in and preached patience,” Snider said. “Ron said, ‘We’re not going to rush guys along. We’re going to develop our kids and really work on that phase of the game.’ That was my philosophy when I started the team.”

Back in those days, Snider will tell you, the Flyers were all about avoiding the trade and free agent route to improve. There was a reason why that happened – namely, that they were an expansion team – but when Philadelphia won it all in their seventh and eighth seasons of existence, his approach was validated. However, some of Snider’s critics have pointed to him straying from that philosophy as the reason Cup success has eluded the Flyers since the mid-70s. Former NHLer Bobby Holik was among those critics, claiming the consistent roster turnover every off-season led to on-ice instability. And Snider concedes that impatience became an issue for him and the team.

“Probably after five years of not winning the Cup and so forth, I started to get anxious,” Snider said. “I believe the tone of an organization comes from the top; my father always told me fish stinks from the head. And I set the tone and probably forgot my roots to a degree, wanted to win now, and lost my patience.” Read more