Should the Toronto Maple Leafs consider adding a more experienced No. 1 defenseman this summer?
That’s the suggestion from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail, who believes Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf may not be well suited to playing the role of the club’s top blueliner.
“He’s not the type of all-around player who is going to excel as a No. 1 defenseman,” Mirtle wrote, calling on GM Brian Burke to try to find a blueliner who could fill that role while bumping Phaneuf down “at least one spot.”
Burke’s most pressing need this summer is finding an experienced starting goaltender. If, however, he’s unable to suitably address that need, perhaps he’ll consider bolstering the blueline depth in front of whoever becomes the Leafs starter next season.
The Leafs GM probably doesn’t share Mirtle’s opinion of Phaneuf, but nevertheless it would be a good idea to find his captain some help on the blueline.
STARS’ ‘C’ OUT IN BIG D?
It’s been a difficult season for Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow, struggling through neck and back injuries that have hampered his performance and effectiveness.
In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline there was speculation Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk would shop Morrow, even though the gritty left winger carries a no-trade clause in his contract.
Nieuwendyk ultimately kept the 33-year-old, but Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal recently said that people should not to be surprised if the team goes to its captain this summer with a list of teams interested in his services, hoping to convince him to waive his clause.
Morrow has one year at $4.1 million remaining on his contract. While he’s still a well-respected player, his injury history will hamper any attempts to move him.
A recent groin injury has not only likely brought an end to the season for Washington Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun, but also to his short tenure with the club.
Signed last summer to a one-year deal for a mere $1.5 million, Vokoun failed to provide the Capitals with the kind of experienced starting goaltending necessary to keep them among the league’s elite teams. He has a 25-17-2 record, posting a 2.51 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
Those numbers will have an adverse effect upon the 35-year-old’s efforts to land a more lucrative deal from other NHL teams in the off-season.
PENGUINS SUMMER SHOPPING LIST SHORT
This summer isn’t expected to be a hectic one for Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, but one area he may look to improve is his backup goaltending.
Long-time backup Brent Johnson will be an unrestricted free agent and it was expected he’d be replaced by Brad Thiessen, who was a top goalie in the American League last season.
Thiessen, however, wasn’t particularly impressive in his few games with the Penguins this year while filling in for the injured Johnson.
Fortunately for the Penguins there appears to be several good, potentially affordable backup options available in the UFA crop. Winnipeg’s Chris Mason, New Jersey’s Johan Hedberg (a former Penguin and Pittsburgh fan favorite), and Chicago’s Ray Emery are possibilities, as well as Martin Biron of the Rangers and Al Montoya of the Islanders.
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 Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.