Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Rumblings: Spezza's value, Panthers' coach
By Pierre LeBrun
NEW YORK -- It has been speculated for a while now, but Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray confirmed for the first time Wednesday that his star center Jason Spezza has asked out.
And Murray’s phone has been ringing.
"There are a few teams that have asked me about him, what the cost is," Murray said after the GMs meeting Wednesday. "I suggested at least we'll have discussions. I don't want to trade the guy, really, and I know I won't get the value, in all likelihood that I should get for him. But I think that Jason feels maybe there's a change that he would like to have happen, and if that's the case we'll try to do what we can."
The asking price won’t only include futures in return.
"Obviously I'd like to win a hockey game next year, so getting a player back that can play in the league, that has played in the league, would be important," Murray said.
Murray said Wednesday’s GMs meeting is not really much of an opportunity to get a lot done in terms of trade discussions.
"It's such a short time together," he said. "You get a chance to talk to two guys, but not widespread by any means. We're all kicking tires right now. It'll probably be another few weeks, at least, before anything comes down that might be a worthwhile trade talking about."
PANTHERS COACHING LIST
Dan Bylsma interviewed for the Florida Panthers' head coach position on Tuesday.
Florida GM Dale Tallon said his exhaustive coaching search is down to six candidates: Dan Bylsma, Ron Wilson, Gerard Gallant, Marc Crawford, Bill Peters and Tom Renney.
Tallon also told my TSN colleague Darren Dreger that Bylsma had a strong interview on Tuesday.
PITTSBURGH CHANGES COMING Had a chance to chat with new Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford and he’s got his hands full with a team that has seven forwards, three defenseman and a goalie all headed to unrestricted free agency on July 1.
Are more changes afoot in Pittsburgh after GM Ray Shero and head coach Bylsma were let go? You bet.
"Well there’s going to be changes because we have so many UFAs. And we don’t have a lot of cap space," Rutherford told a small group of reporters.
"Are you asking me are there going to be major trades? I don’t know. Talked to some people, some people came after me today and there’s ideas out there. I haven’t been throwing any ideas out but I’ll listen. But obviously there’s going to be some new players there because just the position we’re in with the cap."
It’s believed the team will move on without veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik and there’s a possibility the Pens could move scoring winger James Neal to get younger up front and to free up cap space.
One player Rutherford is intrigued by is defenseman Matt Niskanen, who had a breakout year for the Penguins and is slated for free agency but would like to stay in Pittsburgh.
“He had a good year," Rutherford said. "And trying to figure that out. It’s not going to easy but certainly with the year he had we’d like to take a look at him."
The longtime Carolina GM has not yet talked with captain Sidney Crosby.
“Maybe at some point. Right now we got the coach and the draft and free agency," Rutherford said. "Been calling trying to say hello to players and half of them are wrong numbers and they’re off on vacation somewhere. I’m trying to get as much done as I can in a short period of time."
He would like to have a coach in place before free agency starts July 1.
"I've had discussions with Pat, I'll continue that," Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said after the GMs meeting. "I'm very optimistic about that. We've been very consistent with we're going to make it happen. I know [from] talking to Pat they certainly want to be in Chicago. It's a negotiation. I would say nothing has changed my thoughts all along, which is we'll get it done. It's still June 11 or 12th, and we've still got a few more weeks before we do anything."
As per the collective bargaining agreement, July 1 is the earliest players could be signed to extensions, one year out from the expiry of their current deals. But it’s clearly important to Bowman to get it done by July 1 because that allows him to plan out the rest of his offseason moves.
"Very eager," Bowman said of getting it done by July 1. "That's been our No. 1 objective all along and I'm expecting to meet that."
Trying to keep his team together and keeping an eye on the salary cap remains as always a challenge for the Hawks, who spend to the max.
"I always have concerns. I wouldn't be, that's part of my job looking forward," Bowman said. "You can't look year to year, you have to look two or three years out and obviously you know a year from now there should be a kind of bump with the new TV deal, but you still don't want to assume anything. You have to be planning your moves two and three years ahead, which we're doing. We have ideas what that entails. We're not going to share that. We've been doing this long enough that we know what has to happen. Then if the cap goes up more than you expect, that's great. We're not assuming anything. We realize it's a puzzle to put together and we'll make it work."
WEBER STAYING PUT For whatever reason, every once in a while another Shea Weber trade rumor pops up.
It befuddles veteran Nashville Predators GM David Poile because he remains adamant he’s not moving his star blueliner.
"We’re keeping him, we’re building our franchise around him," Poile said after the GMs meeting. "I think we’ve got one of the best young defenses in the league. I think he’s got an excellent chance of winning the Norris Trophy in 11 or 12 days from now. Why wouldn’t we build our team around him? That’s exactly what we’re doing. We just need one or two forwards and when we get that, you’ll be saying, 'Imagine that someone ever thought they would trade Shea Weber?' No, we are not trading Shea Weber."
SABRES CHATTER Sabres GM Tim Murray says he’d like to pick up another first-round draft pick to add to the second overall pick he already has.
"I can’t imagine I would trade the second overall pick," Murray said. "I’d like to get a couple of more first-round picks and I have those three third-rounders to us. I certainly know you can’t trade a second for a first, but you might take some money back in a deal to do that and I do have to get to the [cap] floor. There are different ways to get to the floor so I’m exploring all that."
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside contributed to this report