Lyle Richardson

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.

Rumor Roundup: Will the Hurricanes deal Staal, Semin, Skinner or Ward this summer?

Lyle Richardson
Eric Staal & Cam Ward (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Having missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth straight season, the Carolina Hurricanes could face significant off-season changes. Ron Francis stood pat in his first summer as Hurricanes GM last year, but now he could make significant moves.

The process began leading up to the trade deadline, when Francis dealt away pending free agents Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty and Tim Gleason. Other players could follow them out the door later this summer.

Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer believes Francis has some “meaty decisions” to make. He must determine if captain Eric Staal, who is a year away from unrestricted free agency, is part of the Hurricanes’ long-term plans.

The 30-year-old Staal tells Alexander he loves living and playing in North Carolina. While he wants to help the Hurricanes return to the playoffs and compete for another Stanley Cup title, Staal admits it’s up to management.
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Rumor Roundup: Big changes coming for Boston Bruins

Lyle Richardson
Lucic

The Boston Bruins missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007 is generating considerable speculation over their off-season plans. Many observers wonder if general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien could lose their jobs.

Regardless of who’s sitting in the Bruins GM chair this summer, roster changes are definitely expected. After years as a Stanley Cup contender, the Bruins were hampered by injuries this season, while several key players failed to play up to expectations. Limited cap space prevented them from suitably addressing their roster needs, forcing the unpopular trade of defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders as an early-season salary dump. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Panthers could target Blackhawks in off-season

Lyle Richardson
Patrick Sharp (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

A lower than expected salary cap for 2015-16 and nearly $65 million in cap payroll invested in just 14 players ensures the Chicago Blackhawks will be shedding salary in the off-season. Teams with available cap space seeking skilled talent will be calling Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman once the playoffs are over.

Among the suitors could be the Florida Panthers. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa speculates Panthers GM Dale Tallon could once again acquire players from his former club. The Panthers roster currently contains former Hawks (like Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen) who were acquired via trade or free agency. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Dion Phaneuf could still be a target for Detroit

Dion Phaneuf

Leading up to the recent NHL trade deadline, the biggest rumor making the rounds claimed the Detroit Red Wings were interested in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf. While trade talks between the two clubs ultimately fell through, speculation persists suggesting the Wings could revisit their interest in the 29-year-old Phaneuf during the off-season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes Red Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe took in a recent game between the Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. As the Wings completed their respective season series with both clubs weeks ago, Friedman facetiously wondered which player Howe was scouting.

If the Wings remain keen to land Phaneuf, they must ensure not to use up too much cap space for future use. They currently have over $53 million invested in their 2015-16 cap payroll, but Friedman points out they have several key players to re-sign. Notables include Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith this summer, plus Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm and Petr Mrazek in 2016.

Phaneuf has another six seasons at $7-million annually remaining on his contract. If the Wings want him, they must convince the Leafs to pick up part of his salary or accept a toxic contract in return like center Stephen Weiss, who has three years at $4.9-million per season left on his deal.

BLUE JACKETS WANT TO BOLSTER BLUELINE

The Columbus Blue Jackets won’t have fond memories of 2014-15. Having reached the playoffs last year for only the second time in franchise history, the Jackets followed up by finishing well out of contention this season.

Injuries were largely to blame. As of Apr. 7, Man Games Lost indicates the Jackets led the league in man games lost to injury with 499. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, defensmen Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Murray along with forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu and Matt Calvert were among the notables to miss considerable time.

While the Jackets front office expressed disappointment in how the season unfolded, they don’t intend on a major roster shakeup this summer. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports team president John Davidson said management will try to improve the lineup, “but we’re not going to tear it down to improve it.”

Prior to Davidson’s comments, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he’d like to add more depth to his blueline. Given the amount of players the Jackets have under contract next season and with the prospects within their system, Kekalainen said he wants to ensure his club has enough defensive depth going forward.

With over $61 million already invested in cap payroll for 2015-16 and all his core players under contract, Kekalainen has some room to add an experienced and affordable blueliner via free agency. St. Louis’ Zbynek Michalek and Barret Jackman, Detroit’s Marek Zidlicky, Chicago’s Johnny Oduya, Montreal’s Jeff Petry and perhaps Nashville’s Cody Franson could be among the options.

Rumor Roundup: Could the Boston Bruins trade Marc Savard?

Lyle Richardson
Marc Savard (Steve Babineau/Getty Images)

Post-concussion symptoms have all but ended the playing career of Boston Bruins center Marc Savard. He hasn’t played since suffering a concussion (his second in 10 months) in January 2011. Savard, 37, hasn’t officially retired and his $4.007-million cap hit through 2016-16 remains on the Bruins’ books.

Since 2011-12, the Bruins regularly placed Savard on long-term injured reserve, providing them a measure of relief when pressed for salary-cap space. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Bruins could try trading Savard’s contract to a club with a lower payroll.

Friedman claims this move would free up valuable cap space for re-signings and other additions by the Bruins. It could also help a rival team reach the salary-cap floor for 2015-16. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Hamilton signing key for Bruins, Devils looking for offense

Lyle Richardson
Dougie Hamilton (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

This off-season will provide an interesting test for Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports Chiarelli already has over $57.5 million tied up in 15 players for 2015-16. Should the salary cap increase to $71 million, it will leave less than $14 million to re-sign or replace key players.

Topping the list is defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is coming off his entry-level contract. Based on his breakout performance this season (42 points in 72 games prior to a recent upper-body injury), the 21-year-old Hamilton will be due a substantial pay raise. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Oilers looking at big off-season upgrades

Lyle Richardson
Viktor Fasth and Richard Bachman (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

As another dreadful season draws to a close for the Edmonton Oilers, speculation is growing over possible off-season roster moves.

Goaltending depth could be an issue, as backup Viktor Fasth is a UFA in July and isn’t expected to return. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Oilers could be among three teams (the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs being the others) with potential interest in Anaheim Ducks goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.

As the Ducks could be a budget team, Friedman notes they could keep their current goalie tandem intact for another season. However, if they have another early playoff exit, he thinks Andersen or Gibson could be moved in the summer. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Lecavalier’s future in Philadelphia in question

Lyle Richardson
Lecavalier

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi reports Flyers GM Ron Hextall doesn’t believe he needs to make many off-season moves. Hextall claims there won’t be a massive turnover, though Carchidi notes the Flyers have limited cap space this summer unless they can shed some salaries.

Topping the list of those who could be moved is unhappy forward Vincent Lecavalier, who has three years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. Lecavalier, 34, has been largely consigned to fourth-line duty this season when he hasn’t been a healthy scratch.

A report in the Philadelphia Daily News suggests the Flyers’ first preference is to trade Lecavalier. With $12 million of his $22.5 million already paid out, the veteran center could be attractive to small-market clubs. A buyout is an option, though it would cost the Flyers $1.75-million annually in dead cap space for the next six seasons. Lecavalier could also retire, though that’s not an option he considers palatable. Read more