The signing of Jared Spurgeon gives the Wild a logjam on the blueline and that could mean Minnesota moves out a defenseman to get deeper at center. In Toronto, the Maple Leafs have a number of free agents who could become good trade chips at the deadline.
StarTribune.com's Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild's recent re-signing of defenseman Jared Spurgeon (four years, $20.75 million) gives the club four blueliners under contract beyond this season totalling over $21 million. Promising Matt Dumba is a restricted free agent next summer, while young defenders Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly wait in the wings.
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told Russo he could draw upon his blueline strength for future trades, specifically citing his club's need for depth at center. ESPN.com's Craig Custance believes Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue Jackets would address that problem. He notes, however, taking on a high-salaried player means shedding salary.
Custance also suggests the Wild as a possible destination for New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic. Given Fletchers's comments, however, that doesn't seem likely. He also doubts the Wild GM will put his 2016 first-round pick in play, as his club only has two picks in the first five rounds.
Given the Wild's defensive depth, The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa claims some teams are wondering if Dumba could become available. The asking price, however, could be high.
Of the Wild defensemen under contract, only Ryan Suter has a no-trade clause. Spurgeon's won't kick in until 2017-18. His new deal is worth an annual cap hit of over $5.187 million. Jonas Brodin's is over $4.166 million, while Marco Scandella's is $4 million.
Brodin's name surfaced earlier this season in trade speculation. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson considered him an obvious target for the Oilers. Russo suggested Brodin as a possible trade chip for Johansen.
With the Wild currently holding a playoff berth, Fletcher isn't under pressure to swing a big deal right now. His club's performance in the coming weeks will determine if he makes an affordable short-term deal at the trade deadline or pursues a bigger star with term remaining on his contract.
MAPLE LEAFS COULD SHED UFAs AT DEADLINE
With 2016 fast approaching, there's speculation over potential moves by the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs by the trade deadline. Specifically, which of their veteran depth forwards could attract the best return.
Winger Leo Komarov recently surfaced in the rumor mill. Currently enjoying a career-best season, his trade value is high but the Leafs reportedly aren't peddling the 28-year-old. Under contract through 2017-18, Komarov could still factor into their future plans.
It's assumed the Leafs could instead shop some of their pending UFAs. Among them is winger P-A Parenteau, who's rebounded from an injury-plagued 2014-15 campaign. With nine goals and 19 points in 36 games, the 32-year-old is on pace for a respectable 20 goals and 42 points. He's on a one-year, $1.5-million contract. The Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan believes a productive Parenteau could attract interest near the trade deadline.
Other trade options for the Leafs include forwards Michael Grabner, Shawn Matthias and Brad Boyes, along with defenseman Roman Polak and goaltender James Riemer. Apart from Parenteau, Riemer could have the most value, but with Jonathan Bernier struggling in goal, the Leafs could be reluctant to part with him.
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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