Lyle Richardson is a contributing writer to THN. His Rumor Roundup has been a regular feature since 2007. He also runs the website spectorshockey.net. A Canadiens fan married to a Leafs fan, Lyle's Saturday nights during hockey season can get quite entertaining at his home.
The ongoing sexual assault investigation by Hamburg, N.Y., police involving Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane is raising questions in the Chicago media about his future with the team. Kane has yet to be charged, but uncertainty over his status has some pundits suggesting the Blackhawks might part ways with the troubled 26-year-old star.
If the investigation is still ongoing when the season opens in October, Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily-Herald reports it casts uncertainty over his availability for the upcoming season. It will definitely be an unwelcome distraction for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Rozner also wonders if the Blackhawks brass wants Kane back, pointing out they issued the winger a strict warning in 2012 regarding several alcohol-related off-ice incidents. He suggests trading Kane could be among their options, speculating they probably already received inquiries from some rival clubs about his trade status. Read more
The Los Angeles Kings will have to pay big bucks to keep first-line centerman Anze Kopitar out of next summer’s unrestricted free agent market. However, he’s not the King who will prove costly to retain.
Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe speculates left winger Milan Lucic could have a short tenure in Los Angeles. Lucic, 27, was dealt to the Kings in June by the Boston Bruins. Like Kopitar, he’s slated to become a UFA next July. He’s completing a three-year, $18 million contract and it’s expected he’ll seek a significant raise.
The Kings currently have over $49 million invested in 15 players for 2016-17. That’s not including the potential salary-cap recapture penalty for center Mike Richards, whose contract termination is being contested by the NHLPA, or the $4.167-million salary-cap hit of currently-suspended defenseman Slava Voynov. Read more
A number of notable NHL stars, including Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Carolina’s Eric Staal, are eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. The longer those players go without re-signing this summer, the more frequently their names could appear in trade speculation.
The contract talks of Stamkos, Kopitar and Staal could generate headlines in the coming season, but it’s the status of Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien that’s become the hot topic through an otherwise quiet summer in the NHL rumor mill. Thanks to the speculation of internet rumor bloggers, the 30-year-old blueliner garnered some media attention in early-August.
Most of the rumors linked Byfuglien to the Boston Bruins, who have a big hole to fill on their blueline after trading Dougie Hamilton to Calgary in June. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty recently downplayed the notion of the Bruins acquiring Byfuglien, citing the potentially high asking price from the Jets.
It’s believed Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff hopes to re-sign Byfuglien and left winger Andrew Ladd, who is also eligible for UFA status next summer. So far, however, there’s no indication Cheveldayoff is close to inking either player to new contracts. Read more
Scratch one big name from next summer’s list of top potential unrestricted free agents, as the Calgary Flames re-signed captain Mark Giordano on Tuesday to a six-year, 40.5-million extension. Still, a number of significant players remain eligible for UFA status next July.
Earlier this month, we listed the top players in the UFA class of 2016, citing Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Carolina’s Eric Staal among the notable. Even if all the players on that list are eventually re-signed, there could still be quality talent available. Here’s a look at some of them: Read more
Apart from the wheeling and dealing during the 2015 NHL Draft and the usual NHL free-agent signing frenzy of early-July, it’s been a fairly quiet summer in the rumor mill. However, with September and the start of training camp drawing near, speculation should increase over the next several weeks.
Here’s a look at several NHL players who could start popping up in training camp trade and free-agent rumors in September. Read more
With less than a month remaining until NHL training camps open, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings pivot Anze Kopitar remain unsigned. The duo are eligible for unrestricted free agency next July.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance reports there’s been only preliminary talks between the Kings and Kopitar, while negotiations have yet to being between Stamkos and the Lightning. Custance notes both players are eligible for big raises, with Chicago Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (eight-years, $84-million each) likely seen as comparables. He also points out both clubs must carefully consider the impact those new contracts will have upon their respective salary-cap payrolls.
The Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly believes Lightning fans shouldn’t panic over Stamkos’ contract situaiton, but notes his status could become an unwelcome distraction for the club the longer their captain remains unsigned. The same can also be said of Kopitar and the Kings. Read more
The status of defenseman Slava Voynov remains an issue for the Los Angeles Kings in the coming season. The 25-year-old is currently serving a 90-day jail sentence on a misdemeanour domestic violence charge. NBC Sports’ Jason Brough reports there’s local media pressure upon the Kings to part ways with Voynov.
Assuming the Kings decide to sever ties with the Russian-born Voynov, and if he isn’t deported or suspended by the NHL, Brough suggests they could terminate the defenseman’s contract or try to trade him.
Brough considers a trade unlikely, noting the PR consequences for any team acquiring Voynov right now. As for a contract termination, the Kings went that route in June with center Mike Richards following an incident at the Canada-US border. However, Richards hasn’t been charged with anything and the NHLPA recently filed a grievance over his contract dissolution. There’s no word yet as to when that hearing will be held. Read more
With the start of NHL training camps a month away, a number of unrestricted free agents are still seeking contracts for 2015-16.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline compiled a roster of the best available players. The notables include forwards Martin Havlat, Olli Jokinen, Erik Cole and Brenden Morrow. Sadly, these players are all well past their playing prime. Some, like Havlat and Cole, face retirement as a result of injuries suffered during their careers.
Portzline also includes forwards Stephen Weiss, Curtis Glencross and Jiri Tlusty, along with defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, Cody Franson and Marek Zidlicky. As the start of training camp approaches, these free agents stand the best chance of landing new contracts.
The New York Rangers’ recent signing of center Jarret Stoll to a one-year, $800K contract indicates there are teams with limited cap space still seeking affordable depth. The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets are among this group. Even rebuilding teams with plenty of cap room, like the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils, could pursue cost-effective depth via free agency. Read more