The Colorado Avalanche will be in the market this summer for a reliable starting goaltender.
Responding to a reader’s recent email, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post suggested recently acquired Brian Elliott’s inconsistency was reason enough for the Avalanche to explore this summer’s free agent market, especially if Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov or Florida’s Tomas Vokoun are available, though Dater acknowledged both would be expensive signings.
If, however, management isn’t willing to invest in an expensive netminder, the Avs will consider going the trade route. Dater suggested shopping their first round pick, perhaps to Vancouver for Cory Schneider or to Los Angeles for Jonathan Bernier.
It’s possible the Canucks or Kings will have interest in the Avalanche’s first round pick, which will be in the top five of this year’s draft, but there’s no guarantee either club would be willing to move those goalies.
The Canucks have Schneider under contract for one more season and may decide to wait until next year’s trade deadline or perhaps the 2012 entry draft to move him, while Kings management might want to give Jonathan Quick one more season as their starter before feeling comfortable about shopping Bernier.
Of the two, the Kings would likely have the most interest, as they dealt their first round pick to Edmonton in the Dustin Penner deal.
VOKOUN VANISHING FROM FLORIDA?
Speaking of Vokoun, Harvey Fialkov of Sun-Sentinel.com recently reported the netminder’s frustration over missing the playoffs with the Panthers for the fourth straight season appeared to boil over when he called out teammates for their poor play following recent back-to-back losses to the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.
While Vokoun supported the direction GM Dale Tallon wants to take the club, Fialkov suggested the goalie’s rocky relationship with coach Pete DeBoer plus his age (34) would lead to the veteran goalie heading for greener pastures via free agency.
If he does leave he might find lucrative contracts hard to come by this summer
Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski recently predicted Vokoun would sign with a playoff contender, but for a shorter deal worth far less than the $6.3 million he’s presently earning. Wyshynski also noted that because of Vokoun’s age, he could end up sharing the workload more evenly.
If Bryzgalov hits the open market he’ll be seeking top dollar, which would make Vokoun a more attractive alternative for playoff contenders seeking affordable goalie depth. However, Bryzgalov’s only options for a big-dollar demand may be rebuilding teams such as Colorado and Toronto, where he’d be taking a risk on missing the playoffs with those teams next season.
OH, OH, OSHIE
St. Louis Blues center T.J. Oshie’s recent no-show for a team practice not only landed him in hot water with management – earning a two-game suspension – but could impact his contract talks with the club this summer.
Oshie is a restricted free agent this summer coming off an entry-level deal that averages (with bonuses) $1.3 million. He probably hopes to at least double his money per season on a new multi-year deal.
The 24-year-old has shown promise over the past three seasons, netting 48 points last year as a sophomore and 30 points in 44 games this season.
Blues management has been patient with its young players, but trading defenseman Erik Johnson, the first overall pick in 2006, to Colorado in February indicates GM Doug Armstrong will move out those he feels aren’t performing up to their capabilities.
Oshie’s recent suspension may become fodder for trade rumors if he’s still unsigned by June’s draft weekend.
WALKING INTO THE SUNSET
Looks like two NHL veteran forwards will be facing retirement this summer.
New York Islanders center Doug Weight has been out of the lineup for all but 18 games this season and won’t be returning to action due to nerve damage in his back and muscle atrophy in his left leg.
Given the serious injuries he’s suffered in recent years (shoulder and knee surgeries knocked him out of the lineup for lengthy periods the previous two seasons) it’s no surprise he’s reportedly mulling retirement.
Minnesota Wild center John Madden, meanwhile, is also considering hanging up his skates unless he re-signs with the Wild this summer.
Madden and his family love living in Minnesota and decided they don’t want to make another move. The 12-year NHL veteran is currently under a one-year, $1.25 million contract, but might have to accept less money to keep playing for the Wild, who already have nearly $52 million invested in 19 players next season and are in need of bolstering their scoring depth.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.