NHL Rumor Wire – May 7th, 2011

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Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller didn’t have the best year of his career this season.  Some fans believe it would be ok to trade Miller and others like myself, believe he is untouchable.

From Mike Schopp (WGR550.com)

Now we come to the Sabres, about whom so many people say that their strength is goaltending that I might as well just call it a fact. Their goaltending is hardly stupendous, but if goaltending isn’t their strength then I don’t know what is. No other element of the team had much of a playoff series, I know that much.

More and more fans seem to have bought into my position from years back, that signing Ryan Miller long-term was not the brightest way to build the team. Now, some of those fans are ready to trade Miller and have that amount to a similarly paid player at another position.

I think that’s logical, but it wrongfully ignores the same aspect of the situation that undermined the point back when: This isn’t fantasy sports. When the Sabres signed Miller in ’08, they did so not just to retain one of the league’s better goalies. Star players had fallen through the cracked foundation of their ship, and they needed to keep Miller in order to plug the hole. They did that, and he’s rewarded them with consistent, above-average goaltending.


Dallas Stars Brad Richards is will be an un-restricted free agent on July 1st. Dallas would like to keep him, but he wants to know what the future holds in Dallas, before he signs. Dallas is currently looking for a new owner and a new head coach.

From John Tranchina (stars.nhl.com)

Will center Brad Richards, the squad’s leading scorer the past two years, re-sign with the Stars or go elsewhere once he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1?

Unfortunately, the answer is closely linked to the uncertainty surrounding the club’s ownership situation, and that is unlikely to be resolved by the time his current deal expires.

“I don’t really know yet,” said Richards, who set a career-high with 28 goals while adding 49 assists for 77 points, ranking 10th overall in the NHL despite missing 10 games with concussion-like symptoms in late February/early March. “I’ll talk with my family and start figuring it out. I have lots of time, there’s no deadline until July, so there’s lots of time to sit there and ponder.”

Some negotiating between Dallas General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk and the Richards camp did take place at times during the season, but nothing will be resolved until the Stars have a new, stable ownership group in place – not because the Stars don’t have the money to allocate to him, but because Richards is reluctant to invest in a long-term deal with a franchise in flux.

With all the talk about the Phoenix Coyotes moving to Winnipeg, to start next season. Is it possible that the Edmonton Oilers could move in the future?

From David Staples (Edmonton Journal)

Is there any real possibility that the NHL Oilers will leave Edmonton in 2014, after the team’s lease expires at Rexall Place?

Some clarity on this issue can be found in two recent reports, one by the Conference Board of Canada, the other by the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre. Both public interest groups took a dispassionate look at a passionate topic, just what it takes for a Canadian city to support an NHL team. Both groups found Edmonton be a stronger market than either Winnipeg and Quebec City, which are both desperate to get NHL teams again.

This issue is alive because the Oilers will be restricted free agents in 2014, able to move on if the city and the Oilers aren’t effectively working together to keep the team here. For the NHL and the Oilers, that means a new downtown arena must be built here with some amount of public subsidy from the city and the provincial government.

The Detroit Red Wings are on the verge of another early exit from playoffs. So what should the wings do in the off-season to make their roster better.?

From Jamie Samuelsen (Detroit Free Press)

So what do you do if you’re general manager Ken Holland? More important, what can you do? On one hand, the Wings lost to the Sharks last season in five games and are on the verge of another early exit this spring. The fact is that the Sharks are the better team and have proved that in the last year. On the other hand, the Wings very easily could be up, 2-1, in this series. They could have won the series last year with another day of rest or one fewer questionable call. So do you overhaul this talented team? Of course not. Do you tweak the roster a bit? Of course you try — but what are the Red Wings lacking? What is it that San Jose has that the Red Wings don’t?

The answer: not much.

The Edmonton Oilers have the first overall pick in 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney would take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson.

From Jim Matheson (Edmonton Journal)

EDMONTON – Nobody’s invited Ryan Whitney to sit in on the Edmonton Oilers’ draft meetings, but if anybody wants to give him a call for his opinion, he would take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson.

“I hope they take the centre … as long as they think this kid is a future stud, that’s the play I’d make. I’ve seen him (Nugent-Hopkins) a little and I know it’s tough to compare him to, say, (Pavel) Datsyuk, but he kind of moves like him with the long stride and stickhandles well,” said the Oilers defenceman, who did some playoff commentary work for TSN and is back skating hard after his surgery to repair a popped tendon in his right ankle.

“As much as everybody needs a No. 1 D-man, you can sometimes get those guys in free agency or a trade. Not as easily, but you never get No. 1 centres through a trade,” said Whitney.

Washington Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov will be an restricted free agent on July 1st. Reports are that Varlamov will not be a Capital next year, but he wishes to stay with the team.

From Slava Malamud (Capitals Insider)

Semyon Varlamov spoke to the Russian media yesterday at what may just be his final appearance at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Predictably, rumors that the oft-injured goalie may be leaving this offseason, whether to the Kontinental Hockey League (as a restricted free agent, he is eligible to negotiate with Russian teams beginning July 1) or via a trade to another NHL club, are circulating in Washington.

“The season is over, so I can start thinking about the future right now,” said Varlamov, looking a bit more downcast than his usual cheerful self. “I will see what happens. My wish is to stay in the NHL and to play for Washington. Hopefully, I can sign a deal soon.”

At the age of 41, Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom might retire after the season. Kevin Allen from USA Today says don’t count on it.

From Kevin Allen (USA Today)

With the Detroit Red Wings facing elimination Friday night against the San Jose Sharks (7 ET, Versus), defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, 41, has been asked whether this could be his last NHL game. Lidstrom has said he won’t make any decision about his future until after the season.

But here are my reasons why I believe he will be back:

1. Although Lidstrom and his wife, Annika, look forward to the time when they can move back to Sweden, they aren’t in a rush to leave Michigan. Both readily concede it will be very difficult to leave a place that has been their home for almost two decades.

With five NHL head coaching positions available, there is a chance for some former coaches to get back in and coach again.

From Andy Strickland (TrueHockey.com)

With five openings, and possibly more, many are eager to see the process begin to move.

One of those is former Head Coach Guy Carbonneau who recently received permission from Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier to speak to NHL teams. Carbonneau remains under contract with Montreal through the end of June. Sources say e-mails were sent out by Carbonneau to all five teams expressing an interest to get back behind an NHL bench.

The NHL started going young in recent years when it came to hiring Head Coaches. I have a feeling we’ll see a different trend this go around? Can a team like Ottawa afford to go with another unproven inexperienced Head Coach?

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Tags: Adam Larsson Brad Richards Buffalo Sabres Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers Nicklas Lidstrom Phoenix Coyotes Ryan Miller Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Ryan Whitney Semyon Varlamov Washington Capitals

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