ESPN.com’s Craig Custance recently listed his top-20 NHL unrestricted free agents for 2015. What’s notable about Custance’s list, apart from the lack of genuine superstar talent in next summer’s UFA market, is that it’s dominated by defensemen.
The notables include Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin, Boston’s Adam McQuaid, Carolina’s Andrej Sekera, Chicago’s Johnny Oduya, Pittsburgh’s Christian Ehrhoff and Paul Martin, Toronto’s Cody Franson,Washington’s Mike Green, the Rangers’ Marc Staal and the Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk. Read more
As the American Thanksgiving weekend approaches, the NHL trade market has slowly returned to life. The past two weeks saw the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens swing a couple of deals, including one in which the Stars shipped defensemen Sergei Gonchar to the Canadiens for forward Travis Moen. Factor in last week’s meeting of NHL GMs in Toronto and there’s growing speculation more deals are on the horizon.
A recent six-game losing skid has the Edmonton Oilers the hot topic of trade chatter. Pascal Dupuis’ blood-clot diagnosis could add urgency to the Pittsburgh Penguins search for a scoring winger, while the San Jose Sharks recent slump has generated talk of a possible roster shakeup. Read more
Things are getting ugly very quickly for the Edmonton Oilers. After overcoming an 0-4-1 start to finish October 4-5-1, the Oilers enter the final week of November having won only 2 of their last 12 games. With a record of 6-13-2, they’re mired in dead last in the Western Conference. Once again, this club is in danger of having their playoff hopes dashed before the New Year.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson called upon Oilers GM Craig MacTavish to make a trade to help embattled coach Dallas Eakins, who’s become a focal point of criticism. Matheson points out they need a second-line center and it could mean trading a winger to get one. He also notes the Oilers need better goaltending and defense, as well as players willing to compete hard for 60 minutes every game. Read more
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward lines suffered a serious blow when veteran winger Pascal Dupuis was sidelined for six months with a blood clot in one of his lungs. It didn’t take long for rumors to surface over how they’ll address Dupuis’ absence.
USA Today’s Kevin Allen believes the Penguins have trade options to pursue. Among them are Buffalo Sabres wingers Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart, who are both eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, and Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov. Read more
After the Toronto Maple Leafs were humbled 6-2 by the NHL’s worst team, the Buffalo Sabres, and followed it up with a humiliating 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, the calls for change from Leafs Nation are growing louder. In some cases, they reached banshee-like proportions.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons believes how Leafs president Brendan Shanahan addresses this situation will say much about Shanahan’s managerial style going forward. He could fire coach Randy Carlyle or GM Dave Nonis. Perhaps both. Maybe neither. So far, he appears willing to stand pat. Read more
Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding cleared waivers on November 18 and was demoted to the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa. The Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff explains the Wild prefer placing Harding on waivers, rather than simply sending him to Iowa on a two-week conditioning stint. This way, the Wild can keep Harding in the minors for as long as they wish.
Harding has one season remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $1.9 million, paying him $2.1 million in actual salary. He’s returning from a broken foot suffered in training camp. The 30-year-old netminder is also battling multiple sclerosis, earning the Masterton Trophy for perseverance in 2013. Read more
Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot is making some progress in his recovery from the back and hip ailments which have sidelined him since training camp. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan reports Methot has resumed skating with his teammates, but he’s taking things day-by-day and there’s still no timetable for his return to action.
Methot is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. His average cap hit is $3 million, while in real salary this season he’s earning $3.75 million. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports there’s no sign of progress in contract talks between Methot’s agent and Senators management, fuelling trade speculation. He claims the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers are among the interested clubs. Read more
When the Edmonton Oilers began this season it was believed the additions of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth finally addressed their goaltending issues. Unfortunately, they’re struggling through the early going. The Oilers enter this week with a combined goals-against per game of 3.28. Scriven’s goals-against average is 2.94 with a save percentage of .899, while Fasth possesses a 3.63 GAA and .885 SP.
In the recent past the Oilers’ poor goaltending numbers could be explained away by their weak defensive game, but this season they’ve improved in that department, entering the week 18th in shots-against per game compared to last season’s 26th overall placement. Read more