Julius Honka is the last remaining unsigned restricted free agent and it doesn’t seem like the Dallas Stars are in any hurry to come to terms on a new deal. However, they may have to wait a while longer to find a trade partner as well. In separate radio appearances today, TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman both confirmed that the asking price for Honka remains high. Stars GM Jim Nill is seeking a second- or third-round pick or a young player with a similar early-round pedigree. The 23-year-old is himself a first-round pick and was once a highly-regarded prospect, but given his lack of production over the past few years has seen his stock plummet. Honka played in just 29 games with Dallas last season and recorded only four points. Without any guarantee that he can be more than that at the NHL level, teams will likely wait for the price to drop to take a chance on trading for Honka.
- A surprise placement on the waiver wire today was New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. Hickey is a career Islander who just signed a four-year, $10MM extension with the team last summer. Yet, just one season into the contract, he’s now a candidate to be buried in the AHL if not claimed. To many, this somewhat of a betrayal came out of the blue. However, The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reports that New York has been trying to trade Hickey since last season. The 30-year-old veteran was relegated to a part-time role last year, playing in just 40 games, and now has seemingly been forced off the roster altogether by the emergence of top prospect Noah Dobson. Should Hickey clear waivers, he still remains a prime candidate to play elsewhere this season via trade. In all likelihood the relationship between player and team has been tarnished beyond repair.
- Many in Vancouver are commiserating with Hickey’s situation given the equally shocking waiver placement of Sven Baertschi. A fixture in the top-six for the Canucks for several seasons (when healthy), many had Baertschi pegged for the same role this season, now that he has returned from battling concussions. However, Vancouver opted to place Baertschi on waivers due to both a roster and salary cap crunch. Meanwhile, Loui Eriksson remains on the team despite clashes with the coaching staff and poor production on a hefty contract. The Canucks were working to trade Eriksson all summer and it is likely their failure to do so that forced out Baertschi. If Baertschi or Nikolay Goldobin are indeed claimed on waivers, it could also make Eriksson a necessary piece for the team this season, all but ending their attempts to trade him. That’s not to say that GM Jim Benning won’t still listen to offers though.
- Meanwhile, the Canucks opened up a roster spot by waiving three players today and there is some thought that they could be looking to bring back a familiar face. Responding to colleague Rick Dhaliwal’s pondering, Sportsnet’s Satiar Shah reports that the team is considering a waiver claim for defenseman Luke Schenn. Schenn was acquired in-season last year by the Canucks and played well in a shutdown role for the team down the stretch. Vancouver tried to retain his services, but Schenn opted to chase a title with an affordable deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, he failed to make the opening night roster in Tampa and is up for grabs. Vancouver is well-staffed on the blue line and Schenn would seemingly be no better than the No. 7 or 8 defender, but that might not stop them from taking a chance on him yet again.