Rumblings: Ducks' next move, Miller's future in Buffalo, labor deal talk

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
1:14
AM ET
So, what now for the reeling Anaheim Ducks?

Ducks general manager Bob Murray was slated to take in the Islanders-Sabres game in Buffalo on Tuesday night after spending the weekend in Syracuse, N.Y., for pro scout meetings.

The hockey world awaits his next move with his team near the basement of the standings.

Will he fire his coach or make a big trade? Either one is a possibility.

The Ducks are listening to offers for Bobby Ryan, sources confirmed to ESPN.com Tuesday. But really, "they're listening on a lot of guys. They have to at this point," another source said.

It's not that the Ducks are actually shopping Ryan, but rather the rest of the league phoning Anaheim and, more often than not, inquiring about the star winger, sensing that Anaheim might be willing to shake up their roster.

There's a difference between shopping a player and listening to offers for a player -- the Ducks are in listening mode.

One NHL source told ESPN.com that Carolina and Anaheim had a chat about Ryan, although given his $5.1 million salary, it's not likely the budget-conscious Hurricanes can pull it off. Fact is, there would be no shortage of teams interested in Ryan if the Ducks do ultimately decide to go that route.

The asking price in any Ryan deal would likely revolve around a young defenseman, a young forward and possibly a high draft pick -- in other words, a big package involving two to three pieces.

As for head coach Randy Carlyle, as late as last week, I would have told you he was as safe as safe can be despite his team's struggles. But I'm not as confident about that now. I think with the losses continuing to pile on, the Ducks have been forced to reconsider everything -- including the coaching.

Miller clears the air

Ryan Miller doesn't want out of Buffalo.

A weekend note in the Edmonton Journal by respected hockey columnist Jim Matheson caused a stir with some fans in Buffalo, with the veteran writer saying he kept hearing that Miller wouldn't mind if the Sabres traded him.

Some Sabres fans reached out to me via Twitter asking me what I knew. Well, I put the question right to Miller himself whether it was accurate that he may want a change of scenery.

"That is not true at all, and I have never made any comment concerning my status with the team," Miller told ESPN.com via text message Tuesday. "I am proud of being a Sabre for all we have accomplished, and I am excited about the new chapter Terry and Kim Pegula have inspired. I am working hard to get healthy and build my game back to where I want it so I can start to contribute to an effort to build a championship team."

Iginla's future

There's been much debate already in Calgary this season about Jarome Iginla's future. It's a delicate situation. He's arguably the most popular player in franchise history, and the owners of the team adore him.

GM Jay Feaster needs Iginla to approve any trade given the players' no-movement clause and, just as importantly, needs his owners' blessing. And that's if Feaster himself decides it's the best route of action.

If and when Iginla decides he's finally ready for a change -- and on Tuesday he told Calgary media that he hasn't changed his stance on not wanting to be traded -- you can bet the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins will be among the teams sniffing that one out. The B's won't be alone, of course, but a source confirmed to ESPN.com Tuesday that the club would have some genuine interest in bringing Iginla on board should a trade possibility ever come to pass later in the season.

Iginla has one more season left on his deal, paying him $7 million.

NBA labor deal's impact on NHL

Basketball owners were able to drive players down from 57 percent of revenues to around 50 percent in the recently agreed-upon labor deal. And you better bet NHL owners were paying attention with the league's collective bargaining agreement set to expire next Sept. 15.

My guess, based on a bit of chatter with industry sources, is that the NHL will try to reduce the players' share from the current 57 percent to below 50 percent. That's the most direct and impactful way of minimizing player costs in the next CBA. The NBA deal's limit on term for contracts will also interest NHL owners.

But it takes two to tango. The NHL Players' Association, led by executive director Donald Fehr, isn't going to roll over. After all, the players feel they gave up a lot last time around by agreeing to a salary cap, so you can expect the players will want some serious givebacks in return for lowering their share of the revenue pie -- if they agree to lower it at all.

The players' biggest bugaboo with the current system is escrow. Other items the players may focus on include the 35-and-over rule, walk-away rights for salary arbitration and the NHL disciplinarian/appeal process.

The next CBA will be a big topic next week in Pebble Beach, Calif., when NHL owners meet for the Board of Governors meeting. Yes, realignment will be the lead item as owners try to resolve that tricky issue, but a full CBA update and discussion will also be among the agenda items.

The NHL and NHLPA are expected to commence labor talks sometime after the All-Star Game.

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