With Petr Mrazek having displaced Jimmy Howard as the Detroit Red Wings' starting goaltender, questions are being raised over the latter's future in the Motor City. Howard is under contract through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of $5.29 million.
Now an expensive backup, the 31-year-old netminder could become the subject of trade speculation in the near future. He carries a full no-trade clause, but could waive it for an opportunity to become a starting goalie elsewhere.
Responding to a question from a reader regarding Howard's trade status, MLive.com's Ansar Khan speculates the Wings will wait until the offseason to move him. Khan believes they must either pick up part of Howard's cap hit or take back someone else's unwanted contract, preferably one not as expensive or as lengthy as Howard's.
Noting there's not much of a trade market for goaltenders, Khan suggests the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets or Buffalo Sabres as possible destinations for Howard. The Jets face a similar problem as the Wings, as promising Connor Hellebuyck could make it difficult for veteran Ondrej Pavelec to regain the starter's job. As for the Sabres, they seem wedded to oft-injured Robin Lehner as their top netminder.
The Flames could be a better destination for Howard, as Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo are eligible in July for unrestricted free agency. However, if Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer becomes available via free agency, the Flames could consider him a more affordable option.
OILERS READY TO BECOME SELLERS
As the Edmonton Oilers' playoff hopes continue to fade, there's increasing speculation over which players GM Peter Chiarelli could ship out before the trade deadline. For months, it's been rumored Chiarelli might deal one of his scoring forwards to bring in a top-four defenseman.
Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was considered the most likely trade candidate. Following the Nashville Predators' trading defenseman Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen, a report emerged claiming Chiarelli offered Nugent-Hopkins to the Predators for Jones. With the 22-year-old center currently sidelined until March by a hand injury, it's unlikely he'll be moved by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Michael Traikos of the Toronto Sun includes Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle among his list of top players who could move by the trade deadline. However, he acknowledges it might make more sense to wait until season's end to move a player like Eberle.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports there's plenty of interest in defenseman Justin Schultz if the Oilers want to move him. The 25-year-old is on a one-year deal paying him $3.9 million and slated to become a restricted free agent in July.
Schultz has struggled to establish himself as a top-four defenseman, but could improve on a deeper roster. Chiarelli could wait until the off-season to peddle Schultz, but the blueliner's also eligible for arbitration rights and only a year away from qualifying for unrestricted free agency. Rather than deal with that headache, Chiarelli could opt to deal him at the trade deadline.
MORE RUMOR ROUNDUP:
- Trade activity on hold while Jets decide on Byfuglien, Ladd
- Decision time looming for playoff bubble teams
- Oilers eyeing defensemen Hamonic, Vatanen
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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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