Rumor Roundup: Hextall will do things differently than Holmgren

(Photo by NHL Images/NHL)
(Photo by NHL Images/NHL)

The Philadelphia Flyers replacing Paul Holmgren as GM with Ron Hextall raises questions about their off-season plans. Holmgren was unafraid to make bold trades and signings within the confines of his limited cap space. Hextall, however, could take a different approach. The Sporting News’ Sean Gentille reports the new Flyers’ GM intends to improve the team via the draft.

Hextall isn’t ruling out making trades, but Gentille believes the days of pursuing a big-name star, like Nashville’s Shea Weber, are over. Since Holmgren’s failed attempt two years ago to sign Weber away from the Predators with an offer sheet, trade rumors tying the Predators captain to the Flyers persisted despite Predators GM David Poile’s insistence Weber won’t be dealt.

Before Holmgren’s promotion to team president he stated the Flyers’ biggest need this summer was to get “bigger, stronger and faster throughout the organization.” That opinion could be shared by his successor.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi believes Hextall could pursue a left winger for Claude Giroux’s line. He lists Matt Moulson, Benoit Pouliot and Mason Raymond as potential free agent targets, while suggesting Winnipeg’s Evander Kane as “an intriguing trade possibility.”

Of these options, pursuing Kane is the best one, but it would take a considerable offer to pry him away from Winnipeg. While forwards Brayden Schenn and Matt Read could become trade chips, the Jets might prefer a return which includes Sean Couturier or Wayne Simmonds, and that’s not going to happen.

Speaking of the Jets, Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press believes they missed an opportunity to bolster their goaltending, noting the New York Islanders acquired Jaroslav Halak from the Washington Capitals for a fourth-round pick.

Lawless feels Halak could have been a worthwhile fit if Jets’ management “were willing to make coinciding changes to their current roster,” meaning a compliance buyout for current starter Ondrej Pavelec. He questioned GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s insistence on bringing back the struggling Pavelec for 2014-15.

Time will tell if Cheveldayoff’s faith in Pavelec will be rewarded. For now it appears bold moves aren’t in store this summer regarding their goaltending. If the Jets don’t re-sign pending UFA Al Montoya they’ll be in the market for a backup netminder.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson reports the Detroit Red Wings won’t use a compliance buyout on streaky scoring winger Johan Franzen. Matheson noted ‘The Mule’ is under contract for the next six seasons at an annual salary of $3.9 million. He speculates they could move him if they could get a top-four defenseman in return.

If Franzen had less time remaining on his contract he would be easier to move. Even if the Wings agree to pick up part of Franzen’s salary, his age (34), inconsistency and injury history also hurt his trade value.

Because of Franzen’s front-loaded contract, there are also salary cap recapture penalties to consider. As the Wings were linked in the rumor mill this season to Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler, let’s assume Edler is swapped for Franzen this summer. If Franzen retires in 2017, the Wings would be tagged with an annual cap recapture penalty of over $2 million for the following three seasons, while the Canucks would be tagged for $545K annually over the same period.

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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