Are the Kings and/or Blues interested in the Sabres veteran goalie? Could the Hurricanes and Maple Leafs swap defensemen? Is Mikael Backlund’s days with the Flames about to end?
Whomever the Buffalo Sabres hire as their new GM will have to move quickly to determine goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the club. Miller’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and if unwilling to re-sign could be shopped before the March 5 trade deadline.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch cited a league source claiming the Los Angeles Kings could be in the market for a goalie. That should interest Miller, whose wife, actress Noureen DeWulf, works in Hollywood.
Kings starter Jonathan Quick remains sidelined with a groin injury for at least another month and while backup Ben Scrivens has played well, Garrioch doesn’t consider him a long-term solution.
The St. Louis Blues have also been linked to Miller, but SI.com’s Allan Muir noted their limited cap space means they can’t afford Miller’s $6.25-million cap hit, even if the Sabres agreed to pick up half. Same goes for the Kings, who have $1.7 million in cap space and a 10-year commitment with Quick.
Given Scrivens’ stellar performance (5-1-3, 1.37 goals-against average, .946 save percentage), the Kings could seek an affordable, experienced backup rather than a big-ticket goalie like Miller.
HURRICANES CONSIDERING A SHAKEUP?
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer he wouldn’t rule out a trade to improve his offense. With Joni Pitkanen sidelined indefinitely with a heel injury, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Rutherford was shopping forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty in his search for a puck-moving defenseman.
Ruutu, 30, is a physical winger with a decent scoring touch, but he also has a long injury history and a cap hit of $4.75 million. Tlusty, 25, is more affordable at $1.6 million, but he is struggling after scoring a career-high 23 goals last season.
On Saturday, CBC’s Glenn Healy reported the Toronto Maple Leafs had scouted Hurricanes blueliner Tim Gleason. The Leafs would love to move John-Michael Liles, but they don’t want a more expensive blueliner in return. Healy doubts swapping Gleason for Liles (currently playing for the Leafs’ AHL affiliate) is possible unless something else is in the mix.
Gleason’s annual cap hit of $4 million is more expensive than Liles’ $3.9, plus Gleason has a full no-trade clause. Liles has a modified no-trade clause, which he’d undoubtedly waive to return to the NHL. To pull off this swap, the Hurricanes must either take an additional salary from the Leafs or pick up part of Gleason’s contract.
BACKLUND ON THE BLOCK?
Mikael Backlund’s days with the Calgary Flames may be numbered. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Friday five or six teams are “kicking the tires” on the 24-year-old center, while CBC’s Elliotte Friedman also reported some teams are interested to see how Backlund would do with a fresh start.
Backlund told the Calgary Sun he’s not seeking a trade and enjoys playing in Calgary, but he acknowledged the recent rumors are part of the business, tying them to his slow start.
Friedman also reported the Flames intend to implement a self-imposed Christmas trade freeze of Dec. 9 (10 days before the league’s Dec. 19 deadline), which suggests Backlund could be on the move within the next couple of weeks.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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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