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 contract stalemate between the Boston Bruins and restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith ended Monday with the pair signing identical one-year, $1.4 million contracts.
Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald reports Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had no intention of trading either player. The signings, however, leave the Bruins with about $425,000 in cap space (once Marc Savard is placed on long-term injured reserve), as well as a surplus of defensemen. Harris doesn’t believe the signings remove the possibility of a trade. Read more
NBA superstar LeBron James returning home to Cleveland sparked speculation this summer in the Toronto media suggesting Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos could do the same and sign with the Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2016.
The Leafs lack a homegrown star, and Stamkos would be a natural fit. Responding to questions about the possibility, the 24-year-old sniper inadvertently added fuel to the fire by replying, “We’ll see what happens.” However, Stamkos recently clarified his comments, saying he definitely wants to win with the Lightning. Read more
With the start of the upcoming NHL season less than two weeks away, interest is growing over the potential moves by Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to free up cap space. It’s been speculated for weeks Chiarelli could move one of his nine NHL-ready defensemen, creating additional room to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.
Trading Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million cap hit), who’s an unrestricted free agent in July, would easily remedy the situation, but Chiarelli seems reluctant to move him. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports of speculation the Bruins could re-sign Boychuk, but an extension hasn’t been discussed.
During a recent live chat, ESPN’s Katie Strang stated her belief the New York Islanders could be a logical trade partner for the Bruins, claiming the Isles would like to upgrade their defense via trade. Her colleague Craig Custance, however, suggests it might make more sense for the Isles to evaluate their young blueline core and compliment it closer to the trade deadline with an experienced defenseman.
Sports Illustrated Allan Muir feels Adam McQuaid could be a trade option. Muir suggests a swap with the Detroit Red Wings, who need a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. He also believes McQuaid’s reasonable cap hit ($1.57 million), size (6-foot-5, 209 pounds) and physical presence would be attractive to the Wings. While Chiarelli might prefer shipping McQuaid to a different division, the Wings could tempt him with their prospect depth.
McQuaid could also be of interest to the Islanders, but the Bruins aren’t the only team that could move a defenseman for cap reasons. The Chicago Blackhawks must shed more than $2.2 million to become cap compliant. Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) and Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) are often mentioned as trade candidates. Read more
The Winnipeg Jets enter their most critical season since their relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Counting their final seasons as the Thrashers, the Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. The honeymoon period is over in Winnipeg, as fans and media grow impatient waiting for the Jets to become contenders.
Apart from a coaching change midway through last season and signing third-line center Mathieu Perreault, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff responded to off-season calls for change by standing pat and preaching patience.
Left winger Evander Kane and defenseman/winger Dustin Byfuglien were frequently subject to trade speculation this summer. THN.com’s Rory Boylen recently listed Kane among his top 10 trade candidates for the upcoming season, while Byfuglien made SI.com’s Allan Muir’s list.
While Ryan Johansen’s contentious contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets dominate NHL headlines, several other notable young players around the league also remain unsigned.
Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and right winger Reilly Smith still await new deals. CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty reports it’s believed Krug and the Bruins have agreed to a one-year bridge term for this season but remain around $750,000 apart. Haggerty speculates Smith also received a one-year offer.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli undoubtedly would’ve preferred re-signing the duo before training camp opened last week, but, as has been well documented, the Bruins lack sufficient cap space to comfortably re-sign the duo.
It’s anticipated Chiarelli will make a trade before the start of the season to free up the necessary space. Until then, Krug and Smith remain in contractual limbo, unable to participate in training camp. Read more
The contentious contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen have taken a decidedly ugly turn. The situation is overshadowing the start of training camp, threatening to derail the club’s efforts to build upon the promise of last season.
Jackets team president John Davidson and GM Jarmo Kekalainen claim the Johansen camp rejected offers of $6 million over two years ($3-million annually), $32 million over six years ($5.33-million annually) and $46 million over eight ($5.75 million). Davidson went so far as to accuse Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, of “extortion.”
Overhardt’s only response was to call for a resumption of negotiations. TSN reports he’s tabled another two-year contract offer, but Darren Dreger claims it apparently wasn’t well received. Johansen departed Columbus prior to the start of training camp and returned home to Vancouver, while the Jackets prepare for training camp and pre-season without him. Read more
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.