As we get closer to the end of the Stanley Cup Final, an expected wild and crazy off-season is beginning to pick up in the rumour mill. On Saturday night’s Headlines segment, the Hockey Night in Canada panel discussed a few potential moves generating buzz.
Buckle up. Before you know it, the moves will come fast and furious.
COYOTES LISTENING ON MIKE SMITH?
As Arizona continues building more for the future than the present, the team seems willing to move 35-year-old goalie Mike Smith.
Smith is making $5.66 million against the cap for this season and next before his contract expires and is coming off a season in which he posted a .914 save percentage. With Ben Bishop signing in Dallas and Scott Darling signing in Carolina, the number of goalies who can make a difference for a team are starting to dwindle. Smith has reached a conference final with the Coyotes, so he’s proven capable of leading a team deep in the playoffs before.
“A lot of teams are asking Arizona about Mike Smith,” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos said. “Mike Smith of course wants to win now. The feeling in Arizona is they might go much younger. Talk is the salary cap might force them to be bottom-feeders, which means they might finally be ready to move Mike Smith.”
Smith has been with the Coyotes since 2011-12 and previously played for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars. Kypreos didn’t connect Smith with any franchise, but Winnipeg, Calgary and Philadelphia are a few teams without a clear No. 1 who are expecting to make a push towards winning in 2017-18.
IF YOU WANT CHRIS TANEV, THE PRICE IS HIGH
With Canucks president Trevor Linden reluctantly admitting in April that his team is indeed in a rebuild there has been much speculation as to what this means for some of the veteran players on the roster.
According to CapFriendly, Tanev doesn’t have any trade restrictions in his contract yet, but a modified no-trade will kick in for 2017-18. At that point, Tanev can list eight teams to which he will not accept a trade. So if the Canucks wish to move the 27-year-old defenceman, this might be the off-season to do it in.
But according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Canucks aren’t exactly eager to trade Tanev. Teams have been calling Vancouver about a potential move, but the price to acquire him remains high.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Chris Tanev and the Vancouver Canucks,” Friedman said. “The one thing I’ve heard is other GMs who say they’ve reached out to Vancouver have been told this is no guarantee and if Chris Tanev is going anywhere the price is going to be very high for him. He’s got three more years under contract. He’s a good player at a good price. I don’t think Vancouver is looking to do this unless it’s a great deal.”
Tanev is making $4.45 million against the cap through the 2019-20 season and averaged 20:20 of ice time per game for the Canucks this season. He was the biggest penalty killer among all Canucks blue liners.
Vancouver GM Jim Benning talked about the potential for a Tanev move last week.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen and see if [a trade] is worth it, but it’s hard to find good defencemen,” Benning said. “Especially defencemen who are mobile and move the puck. I’m not shopping Tanev or bringing his name up in conversations with other GMs. They bring up his name.”
KINGS INTERESTED IN EVANDER KANE?
The Los Angeles Kings missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons this year, resulting in the firing of coach Darryl Sutter and GM Dean Lombardi. In an effort to reach the playoffs, the team acquired goalie Ben Bishop and veteran Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline, but that didn’t do enough to address their main area of weakness: the offence.
With former key contributors Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown combining for just 24 goals and more than $11 million against the cap, the Kings are in desperate need of both salary relief and a younger contributor on offence. Despite being one of the better possession teams in the league again, Los Angeles was tied for 24th league-wide in goals with 199. One option they’re reportedly exploring is 25-year-old Buffalo Sabres sniper Evander Kane, who has just one season remaining on his contract with a $5.25 million cap hit.
“Evander Kane, he’s an unrestricted free agent after next season,” Friedman said “and the word is that the LA Kings are one of the teams that’s interested and I think the Sabres are willing to do it if LA and them can strike a deal.”
Kane scored 28 goals this season, his second with the Sabres, and he scored 20 the season before. The fourth-overall pick of the 2009 draft, Kane has had an inconsistent career to this point, but is known for his strength and shot — a style that may fit well with the Kings’ “heavy hockey” style.
Kane was originally acquired by the Sabres in a 2015 blockbuster with the Winnipeg Jets, in which Buffalo picked him up alongside Zach Bogosian for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, and a first-round pick.