NHL Trade Talk: Playing Fact or Fiction with All the Latest Buzz

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIMay 17, 2013

NHL Trade Talk: Playing Fact or Fiction with All the Latest Buzz

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    The second round of the 2013 NHL playoffs is already underway, but that doesn't mean that it's too early to turn an eye towards the offseason and focus on some trade rumors and buyout possibilities.

    Things could get interesting after a Stanley Cup champion is crowned and the dust from this lockout-shortened season settles. Teams are allowed to buy out two players to become salary cap compliant, meaning that the list of free agents could grow on a daily basis, instead of shrinking like usual.

    Needless to say, the 30 GMs around the league are going to be working hard for their pay this summer. The choices they make will have both long- and short-term impacts, and it'll be interesting to see who throws in the towel, who admits they signed bad contracts by using the buyouts, and who sticks to their guns.

    Free agency will be all the rage, but there will also be teams looking to move valuable assets instead of letting them go for nothing.

Washington Capitals Could Make a Deal to Make Room for Mike Ribeiro

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    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    The Washington Capitals aren't going to blow things up—they've held on to this makeup for too long, and have already allowed Alex Semin to walk for nothing—but that doesn't mean they won't look to make a few changes to a team that lost in the first round.

    Those changes could come in the form of a player or two being moved or bought out to make cap room for Mike Ribeiro.

    The hangup could be the fact that the 33-year-old center is reportedly looking for a four- or five-year deal. (h/t The Washington Times) That's some serious dough for a player who is likely to see a decline in numbers, but for a team that searched long and hard for a second-line center for several years and moved Filip Forsberg at the deadline for Martin Erat, the options may be limited.

Ryan Miller Won't Play Another Game for the Buffalo Sabres

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    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Unless Ryan Miller is looking to upgrade from a large townhouse to a mansion of some kind, the fact that the embattled netminder recently posted his Buffalo home on the Internet to sell it likely signals the end of Miller Time for the Sabres. (h/t BuffaloRising.com)

    Things could be complicated by the fact that the goaltending market will be quite saturated over the summer. Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes appears ready to hit free agency, the L.A. Kings could look to move Jonathan Bernier and the Vancouver Canucks are still trying to deal Roberto Luongo.

    Miller only has one year left on his contract, but the Sabres might have to eat some of the $6.25 million if they hope to be competitive in the buyer-friendly trade market.

The Roberto Luongo Drama Will Finally Come to an End

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    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    There are too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the Roberto Luongo situation in Vancouver with the Canucks, both on and off the ice.

    Between Luongo's ability to demand a trade to one of only five teams and GM Mike Gillis sticking to his guns about receiving "fair value" for the estranged netminder, there aren't a whole lot of options left on the table.

    The 34-year-old doesn't have an awful cap hit, which sits at $5.3 million. Issues seem to arise from the fact that the deal doesn't expire until 2022. Mix all these things together—and considering the fact that Gillis actively openly shopped Luongo throughout 2013 to no avail—and we are set up nicely for year two of the goaltending drama in Vancouver.

Jarome Iginla Will Be Heading Back to the Calgary Flames

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    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    It could be difficult for the Pittsburgh Penguins to retain the services of Jarome Iginla. Pascal Dupuis needs a new deal and is set for a healthy raise over the $1.5 million he made in 2013. Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke also need to contracts, and there's the looming specter of Evgeni Malkin—his deal will expire one summer from now.

    Does that mean that Iggy could return to the Calgary Flames to finish his career there?

    Fat chance considering the man recently sold his home there, and appears set to move on with his life. It might not make sense for the Flames either, who improved a bit when they allowed players like Sven Bartschi to play top-six minutes.

Mikhail Grabovski Will Be Moved to Make Room for Tyler Bozak

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    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    The line of thinking that calls for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make trades in order to make cap room for Tyler Bozak has a scary implication: that Bozak is the best Toronto will be able to come up with for their top center.

    He's serviceable—no one is arguing with that. He could fit in nicely as a No. 2 guy, but Bozak just isn't a top center in the NHL. He's outstanding in the faceoff circle and is a stellar penalty killer, but he's not a No. 1 guy. Not when you consider how good championship teams tend to be up the middle.

    Grabovski is a solid and speedy top-six forward,and moving him out to make room for a not-so-top center would be a mistake. Of course there are several other reasons that the Leafs could decide to move or buy out Grabovski. (h/t TheStar.com)

Jaroslav Halak Shipped out for Some Scoring Help

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    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Another interesting goaltending option for teams that are looking for help in net. With the reemergence of Brian Elliot as a capable starting netminder and the explosion that has been the Jake Allen reveal, there may not be room for Jaroslav Halak.

    The St. Louis Blues have a luxury that few other teams can boast, and that's sporting three different No. 1 goalies in the system. Yet that's a bit of overkill when you consider the state of the offense in St. Louis.

    GM Doug Armstrong recently called the goaltending situation "cloudy," and admitted that Allen has changed the team's goaltending outlook. (h/t the St.Louis Post-Dispatch) With the Blues really struggling to score down the stretch, they could look to ship Halak for a top-six forward of some kind.

The Anaheim Ducks Make a Move with Bobby Ryan

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    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    If the Anaheim Ducks are seriously considering moving Bobby Ryan, they need to take a look around the NHL at teams that are struggling to score. Teams that would kill to be able to ice a guy like Ryan on a nightly basis.

    Relationships between a team and a player can become strained for any number of reasons, just like any other kind of relationship. Someone gets their pride hurt and says some things they maybe don't mean, and then suddenly there are trade rumors popping up every two weeks.

    It's an aggravating situation for Ryan, to be sure.

    The Ducks only have around $4.8 million in cap space to re-sign Ben Lovejoy, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu—this will undoubtedly lead to more Ryan trade rumors. Anaheim just needs to sit their guy down, talk things over with him and start off on a new foot next season.

    After all, there was a point when Steve Yzerman was almost an Ottawa Senator. Relationships can be repaired, and teams can still win after consoling a jilted athlete.

    There will be some changes in Anaheim to be sure. They have 13 unrestricted free agents on the roster. Ryan suiting up for another team shouldn't be one of those changes though.

Minnesota Wild Secure the Future of the Team in Goal

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    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    The injury to Niklas Backstrom during the playoffs this season brought to a head a situation that's been brewing for the Minnesota Wild for a while. When healthy, the 35-year-old is as good as any starter in the NHL. The problem is that he hasn't been healthy all that often.

    Backstrom is set to become a free agent, and if Minnesota can find a way to replace him then they would be wise to do so.

    With backup Josh Harding fighting through MS, the time may be now for the Wild to make a move on one of the various goalies that are available this offseason.

    Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune wrote an excellent breakdown of the various goaltending options for the Wild to consider this offseason.

Chris Stewart Could Be Moved During the Offseason

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    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    Or at least it should be fiction for a team that struggled mightily to score in the first round of the playoffs. Chris Stewart needs a new deal, and unless the St. Louis Blues have a 20-goal scorer stashed in the minors and no one knows about him, he should get one.

    That hasn't stopped various rumors from popping up online, however. (h/t CBSsports.com)

    The Blues shouldn't overpay him, but they likely won't be asked to. Stewart bounced back in 2013 from a poor outing in 2012, posting more points in 48 games this year than he did in 79 games a year prior.

    That sounds like a guy on the way up, not a guy that should be shopped and moved. Unless there's a better goal-scoring option coming back the other way, Stewart should be brought back to St. Louis. Power forwards can take more time to develop than guys who snipe from the top of the circles.

    With a little more patience, and with a more confident Stewart, the Blues could have a special player on their hands. St. Louis has plenty of cap space, and shouldn't shy away from dropping a few million on a developing, strong forward.

The Detroit Red Wings Will Move the Rights to Valtteri Filppula

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    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Many believe that Valtteri Filppula is looking for a long-term deal worth in excess of $5 million per season. (h/t the Detroit News) If that's the case, Fil won't be a Detroit Red Wing in 2014.

    GM Ken Holland doesn't overpay for anything or anyone (for the most part), and after shrewdly hanging on to cap space as players like Zach Parise evaporated, it seems unlikely that he'll suddenly loosen the purse strings for an oft-injured and enigmatic player like Filppula.

    There's little doubt that a forward of his caliber could cash in somewhere else, fitting into the Ville Leino mold perfectly. One good season turned into a four-year, $5.5 million a year contract. Someone will overpay for Filppula. Just don't expect it to be Holland and the Red Wings.

    Especially not with Damien Brunner needing a new deal, and with Gustav Nyquist emerging as a legitimate top-six forward while playing third-line minutes in the playoffs.