NHL RUMOR TUESDAY
*One of the most coveted free agents were he to hit the free agent market in July will be New Jersey Devils winger David Clarkson, who some scouts feel has evolved into one of the best power forwards in the National Hockey League. At 28 years old, Clarkson is set to cash in. An NHL insider predicted to me that Clarkson lands a 5 year, $30 million contract this summer. The Devils don’t plan to open contract talks until after the season.
*Senators GM Bryan Murray feels obligated to do what he can to keep the Senators competitive despite losing Erik Karlsson for the season and Jason Spezza out until April. There will be no fire sale and that has Murray looking to hold onto veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar for the time being, despite the Rangers, Kings and Red Wings being rumored as having early interest. If the Senators fall out of the race by the deadline, some believe Murray will give Daniel Alfredsson the option to be traded to a contender.
*Look for Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to be coveted in the coming weeks. He’s been a hot player among scouts since returning to the NHL this month. With the Islanders hoping to hold onto Mark Streit and sign him to an extension, Visnovsky will be in play.
*The Penguins improvement defensively, ranking 10th in goals against at 2.38, has quieted talk for now of needing to bolster the blueline. However, is there still a need for a big body who can clear the front of the net?
One former scout I spoke with Monday who watched Sunday’s game vs Buffalo still questioned whether the Penguins are built the right way defensively, feeling they are a team you can still exploit by driving the net hard.
The name the scout brought up as a possible deadline fit who would fit a “need” is Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray. Murray, 32, a pending free agent is a big physical defenseman at 6-foot-3, 245-pound. Last season Murray had 126 hits and 143 blocked shots in just 60 games. Murray who carries a $2.5 million cap hit, is now playing more of a third pairing role this season after being a top-2 pairing defenseman with the Sharks for several seasons.
In the past he’s been a good match with a puck moving defenseman in Dan Boyle who does his share of pinching. Murray is likely to draw interest if the Sharks were to sell.
In regards to the Penguins, the former scout called Murray a Hal Gill type of addition that Shero made in 2008 when looking to make a Stanley Cup run.