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Nash, Staal and Maple Leafs goalie buzz

Where Rick Nash will end up is still a big mystery. (Getty Images)

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Where Rick Nash will end up is still a big mystery. (Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators made headlines Tuesday by re-signing defenseman Erik Karlsson to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract extension, but that may not be the only significant move they have in the works.

Don Brennan of The Ottawa Sun cited multiple solid sources claiming Senators GM Bryan Murray contacted the Columbus Blue Jackets regarding right winger Rick Nash.

One of Brennan's sources said the Senators made a package offer of goaltender Ben Bishop, left winger Nick Foligno and 2011 first round pick Mika Zibanejad for Nash.

Neither club responded to the report, but it's unlikely the Senators could pry Nash away with that offer.
The other teams believed pursuing Nash (New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks) have more depth in talent to draw upon for their pitches.

If the Senators were interested in Nash, it would mark a significant change of mindset by their front office, which spent the past year eschewing the pursuit of high-salaried talent in favor of rebuilding from within, as well as with affordable acquisitions.

PENGUINS KEEPING STAAL?

Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal has been the subject of increasing trade speculation in recent weeks, but according to Penguins GM Ray Shero, he's not on the market.

Though Staal is eligible for UFA status in 2013, Shero insists he doesn't want to move the 23-year-old, remaining hopeful of re-signing him to a long-term extension.

Shero acknowledged he's received interest from other clubs, but he says he isn't listening to offers.

Media consensus suggests Staal would chafe at remaining the Penguins third-line center and would prefer more responsibility, either in Pittsburgh or with another club.

It's also believed the Penguins can’t afford to retain Staal, Sidney Crosby (also eligible for UFA status next summer) and Evgeni Malkin (eligible in 2014), given their current cap structure. Regardless, Shero isn't in any hurry to trade Staal and appears sincere about his intentions to re-sign him.

MAPLE LEAFS CREASE CONUNDRUM

The Minnesota Wild's re-signing of Josh Harding to a three-year extension robbed the Toronto Maple Leafs of a free agent option to address their goaltending woes.

The Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail suggested if Leafs GM Brian Burke wants to improve his goaltending, Vancouver Canucks starter Roberto Luongo is the only logical choice.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis claimed lots of teams have expressed interest, but it doesn't appear as though he's received any firm offer, nor is he in any hurry to move the veteran netminder.

The free agent market for quality goalies was thin before Harding's re-signing and what's left is mainly backup material, not proven starters in their prime.

Burke could try to sign away Cory Schneider from Vancouver with an offer sheet, but he's not a fan of that tactic and Gillis would match any offer.

As for trade options, the Los Angeles Kings don’t seem to be in a hurry to trade backup Jonathan Bernier and he won't address the Leafs need for a proven starter. 

Forget about making a play for Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom now that Harding's under contract. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher prefers to keep that tandem intact.

The Winnipeg Jets appear far apart with RFA goalie Ondrej Pavelec (they're believed to be offering $3 million per season, while he's reportedly seeking $4 million), giving rise to speculation he could be shopped.

If the Jets were to move Pavelec, however, they'd need a suitable replacement, which the Leafs lack.

Philadelphia Flyers backup Sergei Bobrovsky might be available, but, again, he's yet to prove himself as a starting goalie.

It's been suggested Burke contact St. Louis about either Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott, but the Blues are likely unwilling to break up that successful tandem.

Unless Burke has a surprising move planned, he it looks like his only options are to either acquire Luongo or return with James Reimer and Ben Scrivens and hope for the best.

DUCKS TO LOSE SCHULTZ?

It appears Anaheim Ducks prospect defenseman Justin Schultz will become an unrestricted free agent by July 1.

Ducks GM Bob Murray recently said there was nothing new regarding his stalemate with Schultz, who intends to leave the University of Wisconsin to take advantage of a loophole in the CBA allowing him to become a UFA.

Murray claims he and his staff were led to believe the 21-year-old Schultz, a second round pick in 2008, would sign with the Ducks and the team is perplexed over Schultz’s recent decision. They have until June 24 to sign him, but it looks as though he prefers free agency over joining the Ducks.

The prospect of a promising young blueliner available in the UFA market will surely attract the attention of several teams. It's believed the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs are interested, though their respective GMs cannot comment for fear of violating the league's tampering rules.

Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.

 

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