Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings willing to move forwards for top-three defenseman

Lyle Richardson
By:

Tomas Tatar (Bill Smith/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings willing to move forwards for top-three defenseman

Lyle Richardson
By:

The Red Wings want to add a top-three defenseman, if they go the trade route forwards like Tomas Tatar could be used as bargaining chips.

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland's made no secret of his desire to add a top-three defenseman. How he'll address that need remains a topic of interest for Red Wings fans this summer.

If Holland goes the trade route, he could draw upon his forward depth for bargaining chips. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press suggests winger Tomas Tatar could be used in a trade package to bring in the help the Wings need on defense.

In a profile of winger Gustav Nyquist, MLive.com's Ansar Khan speculates the 26-year-old could become a viable trade chip.

Tatar and Nyquist surfaced in the rumor mill earlier in the off-season due to their disappointing performances in 2015-16. Having reached career-highs in points in 2014-15, Nyquist's production fell from 54 to 48 last season, while the 25-year-old Tatar's dropped from 58 to 45.

Improvement in 2016-17 by Tatar or Nyquist should boost their trade value. Otherwise, Holland could be forced to package either player with a top prospect or two to land a quality defenseman before the start of the season.

Holland could go the free-agent route, but the pickings in the UFA market are very slim. Khan dismissed the notion of the Wings GM pursuing James Wisniewski, speculating Holland prefers a young option. He also points the Wings, who are currently over the cap ceiling, would have to shed salary to add a free agent.

PENGUINS HAVE DECISIONS TO MAKE IN GOAL

After losing his starter's job to Matt Murray in the 2016 NHL playoffs, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury remains a fixture in this summer's trade rumor mill. In June, the 31-year-old Fleury was linked to the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars.

The Flames, however, opted to acquire Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues to fill their starting goalie needs. The Stars, who were also rumored to have interest in Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, will apparently begin next season with their current tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi.

Fleury, meanwhile, is intent on winning back his starter's job with the Penguins. He told NHL.com's Robert Laflamme he wants to finish his career with the club, adding he's had several good conversations with management after the season ended. “Nothing's written in stone,” he told Laflamme.

That can be interpreted as no guarantee Fleury can wrest the starter's role away from the promising Murray. It can also mean Murray, despite backstopping the Penguins to a championship, isn't a lock for the job.

The Penguins remain above the $73-million salary cap by over $2.7 million. The most obvious way to become cap compliant is to trade Fleury, but it's not that simple. There's no market for starting goalies right now, especially those carrying a $5.75-million cap hit through 2018-19 with a modified no-trade clause.

It's expected the Penguins will get under the ceiling by placing winger Pascal Dupuis ($3.75 million) on long-term injured reserve for 2016-17. Dupuis' playing career was ended midway through last season by blood clots. He could retire, but he could remain part of the Penguins staff in order to draw the final season of his contract.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford appears comfortable with keeping the tandem of Fleury and Murray intact for the upcoming season. It's a smart move. Fleury has over a decade of NHL experience under his belt. Despite Murray's recent playoff success, he's yet to prove he can handle the rigors of a full big-league season.

If Fleury is unable to regain the starter's role from Murray, Rutherford could find it easier to move him before the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Should Fleury get his job back, Murray's youth, affordability and performance in the 2016 playoffs will tempt clubs seeking a promising young netminder.

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.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Rumor Roundup: Red Wings willing to move forwards for top-three defenseman