Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun might have another option besides the NHL to consider when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
In a recent interview with a Czech sports paper, Vokoun claimed Omsk of Russia’s Kontinental League might have interest in him, though the team hadn’t yet tendered a formal offer.
Vokoun also noted he’d recently spoken with Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon, but said he wanted to consider his options before making a decision.
It’s possible Vokoun is throwing a KHL offer out there in hopes an NHL team desperate for a quality starting goalie will react by making a lucrative offer. The result of this, of course, has to do with exactly how much is being offered from the KHL. If it’s a lengthy deal worth more than $5 million per season, Vokoun best brush up on his Russian because he’s unlikely to find any team that’d match that in the NHL.
Atlanta Thrashers GM Rick Dudley would like to bring in a scoring forward and perhaps add a top-three defenseman to his roster over the summer.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last Friday, Dudley admitted he might have to force the issue to bring in a top-six forward, perhaps via trade or free agency, and wouldn’t rule out signing a cap-strapped rival team’s restricted free agent forward to an offer sheet.
That will make fans of New Jersey’s Zach Parise, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and the Rangers’ Ryan Callahan nervous, as they’re the most notable RFA forwards this summer. It’s unlikely, however, those players will be pried away from their current clubs by offer sheets from the Thrashers or anyone else.
Perhaps a better target is T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues.
Blues management is expected to keep its payroll close to next season’s anticipated floor of $46 million while the club is up for sale, which will make Oshie a tempting target for teams that want to poach some talent.
Other possibilities include Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner of the Islanders, plus Devin Setoguchi of the San Jose Sharks. The Isles appear likely to keep their payroll as low as possible, while the Sharks, with nearly $52 million invested in 14 players next season, will find it difficult to match an offer sheet.
Another GM who will consider the offer sheet route is Toronto’s Brian Burke, though in the past he’s expressed his distaste for trying to acquire players with that method.
That was certainly true back in 2007 when he was GM of the Anaheim Ducks. Burke’s pal Kevin Lowe, then-GM of the Edmonton Oilers, successfully signed away Dustin Penner through an offer sheet. That move strained the friendship of the two GMs and made Burke a vocal opponent of the offer sheet process.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons, however, reported Sunday Burke wasn’t ruling out that option in the future, leading Simmons to wonder if Burke would pursue big ticket RFAs such as Stamkos, Parise, Shea Weber, Keith Yandle or Zach Bogosian.
But Burke has a history of making big trades and it’s believed he’ll more likely use that tactic this summer by targeting teams looking to dump salary rather than trying to pry away another team’s restricted free agent.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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.