Though Danny Briere claims he wants to remain a Flyer, his team may have other plans. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
It’s expected the Philadelphia Flyers will buy out the final two years of winger Danny Briere’s contract this summer.
CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker reported Briere acknowledged the possibility and hopes it doesn’t come to that, but understands it’s a situation beyond his control.
Briere also said management hadn’t asked him to waive his no-movement and denied rumors he refused to accept a trade earlier this season, adding his preference was to remain a Flyer.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently said he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Briere was signed by the Montreal Canadiens, but the last thing the Habs need is another small forward with an injury history.
The combination of buying out Briere (cap hit of $6.5 million) this summer and placing Chris Pronger ($4.9 million) on long-term injury reserve for next season would provide GM Paul Holmgren with more than $11 million in cap space to bolster his defense.
Last summer, Holmgren attempted to sign Nashville Predators star Shea Weber to a 14-years $110-million offer sheet only to see the Predators match it. Baicker’s colleague Tim Panaccio wondered if Holmgren might try again, this time by targeting St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
The Blues have more than $24.5 million in projected cap space this summer. In addition to Pietrangelo, they must re-sign or replace restricted free agents Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart, Patrik Berglund, Kris Russell and Ian Cole, plus unrestricted free agents Andy McDonald, Jordan Leopold and Scott Nichol.
Pietrangelo appears a ripe target for an offer sheet, but since 2005, every player save one (Dustin Penner) signed to an offer sheet had it matched by his club.
As Holmgren discovered last year, even a budget-conscious club like Nashville will match what appears to be an unmatchable offer to retain its best player. Given the crackdown on extremely long, heavily front-loaded deals in the new collective bargaining agreement, it’s more difficult to pry away a rival’s best player via offer sheet.
Holmgren could try again by targeting Pietrangelo but, as with his failed attempt to sign Weber, that tactic’s unlikely to succeed.
The Carolina Hurricanes calling up forward Jared Staal to join brothers Eric and Jordan for the final game of the regular season prompted the New York Post’s Larry Brooks to suggest the Rangers should be “very worried” about brother Marc joining his brothers when he becomes a free agent in 2015.
Seems a tad early to start worrying about Marc Staal’s future. He and the Rangers are currently more concerned about his return from an eye injury in time for their conference quarterfinal against Washington.
Staal, whose cap hit is $4.0 million, is arguably the Rangers’ best defenseman. In real dollars, he’ll make $5.5 million in the final year of his current deal and the deep-pocketed Blueshirts wouldn’t hesitate to pay considerably more to retain him.
Indeed, they could offer up the kind of money the Hurricanes – who currently have $14.3 million per season tied up in Eric and Jordan Staal beyond 2014 – probably couldn’t afford to beat.
Marc would have to accept less than what he would get from the Rangers or on the open market to sign with the Hurricanes. He could join his brothers in Carolina two years from now, but it’s no certainty he will.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s limited salary cap space for next season ($60.9 million invested in 17 players) has generated some speculation over which players could be part of a salary dump.
Veteran winger Ryan Malone (two years with $5 million remaining in actual salary, with a cap hit of $4.5 million) appears a perfect buyout candidate, but The Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson doesn’t think so. “Trades always a possibility with Malone,” he tweeted.
Malone is respected for his physical style and leadership, but his injury history could make him difficult to move.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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 and The Guardian (P.E.I.).