Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray’s need to add a top-six forward (which will become urgent if team captain Daniel Alfredsson retires) spurred an Ottawa pundit to suggest a radical solution: use goaltender Craig Anderson as trade bait to land a scorer.
Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun believes Anderson’s trade value will never be higher than it currently is, citing his performance (especially in the Senators’ seven-game series against the New York Rangers) and affordable $3.2-million cap hit.
He believes teams such as Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Winnipeg and Columbus would be willing to talk if Murray put Anderson on the block.
The Senators have two promising goalies in their system with Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop. If Anderson is dealt, those two could form a tandem.
It’s an intriguing notion, but one even Brennan doubts will happen.
Murray acquired Anderson late last season and re-signed him to a four-year contract because he considers the 30-year-old netminder the Senators’ starter for the long term.
Lehner and Bishop have considerable promise, but it makes no sense for Murray to trade away a seasoned, experienced goalie and place his hopes on two largely inexperienced netminders. One of them will back up Anderson next season, while the other will either play on their farm team or become trade bait.
The Senators’ rapid improvement surprised many observers this season and Anderson was among the reasons for it. He remains a key piece of their future. If Murray decides to shop for a scoring forward, don’t expect Anderson to become trade bait.
SMYTH MUST SETTLE FOR OILERS
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal recently provided an update on the contract talks between the Oilers and left winger Ryan Smyth.
Matheson claims a two-year deal is being discussed, but the dollars are the issue. He suggests comparable cap hits for the 36-year-old Smyth are St. Louis’ Jason Arnott ($2.9 million) and Colorado’s Milan Hejduk ($3 million), though Smyth might not wish to take less than $3 million per season.
The problem for Smyth is he’s not dealing from a position of strength. Though he remains immensely popular among Oilers fans, age has caught up with him.
Thirty of his 46 points this season were scored before January – should he return to the Oilers for one or two seasons, he’ll have to accept a lesser role as they promote their younger players.
If Smyth wants to retire an Oiler, he’ll have to accept less money for the privilege.
WHAT’S THE PRICE?
Among the priorities facing new Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is re-signing goaltender Carey Price.
The 24-year-old Price is a restricted free agent this summer and coming off a two-year contract that paid him $2.75 million per season.
Price will undoubtedly receive a significant raise, but by how much is the challenge Bergevin faces.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed there’s talk Price will seek a contract similar to the seven-year, $49-million deal Pekka Rinne signed with the Nashville Predators.
That doesn’t seem likely. Price has the potential to become a great goalie, but his numbers over the past two seasons aren’t as good as Rinne’s, who has been a Vezina finalist two years in a row.
Best guess is Price’s new contract will be four-to-five years in length and worth $5.5-$6 million per season.
It’s been suggested a rival club desperate for a good, young goalie will send Price an expensive offer sheet if he’s unsigned by July 1, but given the uncertainty over the next CBA and the decline in offer sheets over the past three years, it’s doubtful Price will receive one this summer.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday 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.