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.
As NHL training camps open, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks still remain above the $69 million salary cap. Questions persist over how they’ll address the issue.
The Blackhawks must shed more than $2.2 million to become cap compliant before the season begins in October. For months it’s been speculated defenseman Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) or fellow blueliner Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) could be moved in a cost-cutting trade.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Leddy could be odd man out, citing the $3.4 million it’ll take to qualify his rights next summer. He speculates the Blackhawks could prefer keeping the defense pairing of Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson intact for a Stanley Cup run this season.
CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes Michal Rozsival ($2.2 million) will also be eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Given his age (36) and injury history, Myers doesn’t expect much interest in Rozsival from rival teams. Read more
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury enters this season facing an uncertain future. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July, and new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford didn’t believe this summer was the right time to discuss a contract extension.
Fleury told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe he pondered what life would be like playing elsewhere, but that he prefers staying with the Penguins. Since signing a seven-year, $35-million deal with the Penguins in July 2008, Fleury backstopped them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009. In recent years he struggled in the playoffs, but he rebounded last season with a solid effort under goalie coach Mike Bales.
It’s apparent, however, Rutherford intends to take a wait-and-see approach with Fleury, who turns 30 in November. The former Carolina Hurricanes GM has no contract history with Fleury and seems reluctant to offer another lengthy, expensive contract to an inconsistent netminder. It’s up to Fleury to prove his worth this season as a reliable starting goaltender.
After weeks of silence, the stalled contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen’s agent are expected to resume this weekend. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports agent Kurt Overhardt is expected to meet with club management for its first face-to-face discussions.
Portzline claims the two sides have agreed to a two-year bridge deal, but remain apart by about $3 million per season. The Jackets are reportedly offering $3.5 million annually, while Overhardt is seeking $6.5 million.
If a deal isn’t reached by Wednesday, Portzline notes Johansen will be asked to vacate his space in the Blue Jackets dressing room at Nationwide Arena and will be barred from the building. That appears extreme, but it’s likely for insurance purposes. Johansen cannot train with the club without a contract unless he pays his own insurance costs. Read more
As the San Jose Sharks prepare for the start of training camp next week, questions hang over the future of several players.
Though Sharks GM Doug Wilson backtracked somewhat from talk of making significant changes to his roster, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz still believes Wilson is open to moving Patrick Marleau for a deal agreeable to all sides.
Marleau and Joe Thornton are both starting three-year contracts containing full no-movement clauses. So far neither player has shown any indication they want out of San Jose, but the Sharks recently stripped Marleau of his alternate captaincy and Thornton of the captaincy, which generated speculation it was done to force the pair out of San Jose. Coach Todd McLellan, however, insisted it was done merely to start this season with a clean slate.
Kurz also believes Antti Niemi’s stint as the Sharks’ undisputed starting goaltender is over. Kurz expects the 31-year-old netminder will be challenged by backup Alex Stalock. With Niemi eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Kurz feels it’s time for the Sharks to “start phasing out” Niemi by shopping him once Stalock proves capable of handling the starter’s job.
Contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and defenseman Marc Methot have apparently reached a stalemate. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Methot, whose current annual cap hit is $3 million, is believed to be seeking a deal comparable to Brooks Orpik, who earlier this summer inked a five-year deal worth $5.5-million annually with the Washington Capitals.
Methot, 29, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Up until now the Senators have had success re-signing several key free agents. They recently re-upped goaltenders Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, along with wingers Milan Michalek and Clarke MacArthur.
Garrioch notes the Senators currently have seven defensemen under one-way contracts. He speculates they could trade Methot if unable to reach agreement on a new deal before the season begins.
If Methot is shopped the asking price could be a scoring winger. Garrioch reports the Senators seek a top-nine forward. Given the lack of available talent via free agency, they could go the trade route. Garrioch cites sources claiming Carolina’s Alexander Semin, New Jersey’s Damien Brunner and Buffalo wingers Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart might be available. Read more
The start of NHL training camp, on Sept. 18, is less than two weeks away, but there’s little progress to report on contract talks involving several restricted free agents. Among the unsigned notables are Columbus’ Ryan Johansen, Minnesota’s Darcy Kuemper and Nino Niederreiter, St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz, Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly and Boston’s Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun cites two sources who claim there’s been no dialogue between the Johansen camp and the Blue Jackets for some time. The two sides are reportedly $3 million apart per season on a two-year deal.
Johansen could receive an offer sheet from a rival club, but Blue Jackets management insisted earlier this summer they would match any offer. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline claims trading Johansen isn’t a consideration. Read more
With the start of NHL training camps a little more than two weeks away, the Blackhawks have yet to reach a decision on how to address their salary-cap issues. Chicago remains above the $69 million cap by more than $2.2 million and must shed salary before the season opens in October.
The situation provided fodder for the rumor mill this summer. It’s assumed GM Stan Bowman would move a defenseman, with Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) or Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) as potential trade candidates.
The Boston Bruins must also become cap compliant by the start of the season. They’re currently above the ceiling by more than $800,000. The Bruins will get cap relief by placing concussed center Marc Savard ($4.03 million) on long-term injured reserve, but it won’t leave much to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith and leave room for possible moves later in the season.
It’s rumored the Bruins, like the Blackhawks, could trade a defenseman to open up more cap space. Trade options could include Johnny Boychuk ($3.3 million cap hit) or Adam McQuaid ($1.5 million).
The Boston Bruins need to shed salary and address their logjam on defense remains a hot topic in this summer’s NHL rumor mill.
Much of the speculation centers on Johnny Boychuk, who will be eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. The 30-year-old blueliner will earn $3.6 million this season, while his cap hit is more than $3.3 million. Brooks Orpik signed a five-year deal this summer with the Washington Capitals worth $5.5-million annually and Boychuk could seek a comparable salary.
If Boychuk becomes a UFA, the Edmonton Oilers could be very interested in his services. He’s an Edmonton native with a strong all-around skill set that would benefit the Oilers’ rebuilding defense corps.
Boychuk, however, told the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson his preference is to remain with the Bruins, calling them “my hockey family.” Considering the Bruins remain a legitimate Stanley Cup contender three years after their last championship, his reluctance to leave Boston is understandable. His future with the Bruins, however, will depend upon their cap space beyond this season. Read more