Scott Gomez and his hefty contract could be on the way out of New York if the Rangers decide to make a change in direction. (Getty Images)
New York Post columnist Larry Brooks suggested the possibility of the Rangers shopping center Scott Gomez if he didn’t fit into coach John Tortorella’s plans.
Brooks acknowledged such a move could be a tough sell given Gomez’s salary (more than $7.3 million per season) and his limited no-trade clause whereby he provides a list of three teams he wouldn’t accept a trade to.
Something else to consider is the possibility next season’s salary cap will likely remain around $56.7 million and could drop the following season. Not too many teams want to saddle themselves with a $7.3 million per season cap hit to 2013-14.
If moving Gomez isn’t an option, providing him with a scoring winger could be. MSG.com’s Stan Fischler suggested Minnesota Wild winger Marian Gaborik could be an option if he doesn’t re-sign with the Wild.
Fischler notes Gaborik could be expensive and a risk given his injury history, but his skills could make him a worthwhile gamble.
Brooks also suggested the possibility of acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk from the Atlanta Thrashers this summer, believing goalie Henrik Lundqvist would be the only untouchable Ranger if the Thrashers put Kovalchuk on the block.
Any additions GM Glen Sather might consider would require clearing some cap space, although Sather caught a break with Markus Naslund’s retirement last week, freeing more than $4 million and dropping the Rangers to just more than $38 million committed to nine players next season.
Gaborik’s injury history could also work in favor of the Rangers or any other club interested in him. Last fall it’s believed he spurned a lucrative $8 million per season offer from the Wild, but missing most of last season to injury should drop his value considerably in this summer’s market.
Acquiring Kovalchuk at this point seems like wishful thinking. Thrashers GM Don Waddell remains convinced he can re-sign the talented winger before Kovalchuk becomes a UFA next summer, as long as Waddell can shore up his roster this off-season.
• The Vincent Lecavalier trade rumors simply refuse to go away.
Reports out of Tampa Bay claim Lecavalier’s future with the Lightning could rest upon the club’s ability to attract new investors that’ll help the current ownership pay its debts.
Lecavalier’s new 11-year, $85-million contract (with a no-trade clause) begins July 1 and will take up a hefty chunk of the club’s payroll. If the team’s debt can be decreased, it could afford to spend more on payroll. But if not, they could look at other options, leading to the obvious conclusion of moving Lecavalier before his new contract takes effect.
Lightning co-owner Len Barrie insisted in a recent interview he wanted to keep Lecavalier in Tampa Bay, but as long as there are concerns over the team’s finances don’t expect the trade rumors to dissipate.
• The Philadelphia Flyers limited salary cap space for next season could have them seeking more affordable alternatives, particularly if they’re unable to re-sign pending UFA netminders Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki before July 1.
One option could be former Ottawa goalie Ray Emery, who spent the past season in Russia’s Kontinental League after failing to sign with an NHL club following his contract buyout last summer by the Senators.
Various sources in Philadelphia and Ottawa reported Flyers GM Paul Holmgren admitted speaking with Emery’s agent, who said the Flyers were just one of three teams interested in his client.
Holmgren cautioned that his interest in Emery was just one of several options he’s considering regarding his goaltending situation.
Emery had a couple of good seasons in Ottawa, but his attitude and slow recovery from injury hurt his performance in 2007-08 and led to his expulsion from the Senators and subsequent inability to land an NHL contract.
He had a decent performance in Russia and could be willing to return to the NHL, but he might have to accept far less than the three-year, $9.5-million contract he once earned with Ottawa.
• The Columbus Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets have “a glut of forwards, especially on the left side,” suggesting the possibility the club could move one of them in the off-season.
Natural left wingers include Rick Nash, Fredrik Modin, Kristian Huselius, Jason Chimera, Raffi Torres and Nikita Filatov, plus the Dispatch claimed the club preferred playing R.J. Umberger on the left side.
The Jackets were lacking depth at center last season, so it’s possible they could consider addressing that need by shopping one of those wingers.
Don’t expect Nash, Filatov or Umberger to be available, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Modin or Torres were dangled in hopes of landing a pivot.
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Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.