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 state of the Philadelphia Flyers defense core remains a troubling issue. They’ve lacked a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury nearly three years ago. They attempted to address that issue in July of 2012 by signing Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber to an expensive offer sheet, but the Predators swiftly matched it.
Former GM Paul Holmgren attempted to bolster the overall blueline depth, acquiring Luke Schenn, Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald via trade and free agency. None of them, however, can fill Pronger’s skates.
The Flyers underwent a front-office shakeup this spring when Ron Hextall took over as GM. Despite Hextall’s stated preference for building from within, rumor-mongers believe the Flyers still seek a stud defenseman, linking them to Winnipeg Jets blueliner Zach Bogosian. Read more
The Detroit Red Wings announced Thursday they re-signed GM Ken Holland to a new four-year contract. With his future now settled, Holland can turn his focus toward his coach and two key roster players.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports Holland remains hopeful of re-signing Mike Babcock, who’s entering the final season of his contract. Holland told St. James he intends to meet with Babcock for face-to-face talks in September, before the start of training camp.
Holland is also working on a new contract for restricted free agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who told St. James he’s not worried about still being unsigned a month before training camp. He said it would nice if they could work out a long-term deal. Read more
The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan recently observed the Senators could enter training camp with eight NHL defensemen, seven of whom are under one-way contracts. If the Senators decide to make a deal, Brennan feels they could draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait.
Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch could become a trade candidate. Brennan noted coach Paul MacLean had some issues with Wiercioch’s game last season. He also cited a league executive praising the 23-year-old’s passing skills, which could make the young blueliner an attractive trade chip.
Another option could be veteran Marc Methot. The Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren reports contract talks between Methot and the Senators are at a stalemate. Warren claims Methot, who’s in the final season of a four-year, $12-million contract, has been compared to Washington’s Brooks Orpik (five years, $27.5 million) and Tampa Bay’s Matt Carle (six years, $33 million). Read more
Earlier this summer there was speculation the Washington Capitals would trade defenseman Mike Green. They enter this season with only a little more than $1 million in salary cap space and have been linked to abrasive checking-line forwards Paul Bissonnette and Dan Carcillo. They have little room to add either player and address other needs if required during the season. Shedding Green’s $6.1-million cap hit would address that issue.
This summer’s additions of blueliners Matt Niskanen ($5.75-million cap hit) and Brooks Orpik ($5.5 million) raise questions about Green’s role in the Capitals defense corps. Assuming Niskanen and Orpik form one pairing while John Carlson and Karl Alzner make up another, Green could become an expensive third-pairing rearguard.
ESPN.com columnist Katie Strang, responding to a reader’s question regarding Green’s trade status, expressed surprise he hadn’t been dealt yet. She speculates his value might not be particularly high at the moment. Colleague Craig Custance also addressed Green’s status during a recent live chat, suggesting there’s no rush for the Capitals to move the 28-year-old defenseman.
Custance believes the Detroit Red Wings are a natural fit for Green and notes they have the depth in young talent to interest the Capitals. The Wings seek a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. They were linked to Green earlier this summer in the rumor mill, though that chatter has since died down.
Over a month has passed since the Chicago Blackhawks’ signing of center Brad Richards pushed them above the $69 million salary cap by more than $2.2 million. While the Blackhawks have until the start of the season in October to become cap compliant, speculation persists over what GM Stan Bowman will do to address this.
Earlier this summer there was talk of the Blackhawks trading winger Patrick Sharp, who has three seasons remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. Though Sharp’s agent vehemently denied the rumors, NBC Sports’ Mike Halford believes Sharp could have high trade value. The 32-year-old forward is a proven goalscorer and is coming off a career-high 78-point season.
Halford also noted moving Sharp would free up additional cap space for next season. The Blackhawks currently have over $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16. That won’t leave much room for Bowman to re-sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy. Trading Sharp would address that problem, though it comes with the risk of weakening the Blackhawks’ offense this season. Read more
NBC Sports’ Joe Yerdon speculates the Los Angeles Kings could be in an awkward situation this season with winger Justin Williams, whose clutch play in the 2014 playoffs earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as post-season MVP.
Williams, who turns 33 in October, is entering the final season of his contract at a cap hit of $3.65 million. The Kings have more than $59 million invested in their roster for 2015-16 and have several young players – including promising forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson – due to become restricted free agents.
With the salary cap expected to rise significantly next season, Yerdon doubts the Kings will have difficulty re-signing their free agents, but he feels retaining Williams could stunt the development of one of those young forwards. If the Kings believe it’s time to promote Toffoli, Yerdon says they could either bid Williams farewell or try to find a way to retain the veteran winger while promoting Toffoli. Read more
As the NHL off-season drags on, former New York Rangers and Nashville Predators defenseman Michael Del Zotto remains unsigned.
Only 24, Del Zotto is just two years removed from a 41-point performance with the Rangers in 2011-12. Unfortunately, his stock tumbled significantly last season, largely because of his poor play in his own zone.
Recent speculation linking Del Zotto to the Vancouver Canucks was denied by his agent, who claims there’s “no chance” his client ends up with the Canucks. It’s been rumored the Detroit Red Wings could have interest, but he’s a left-handed shot and the Wings seek a right-shooting blueliner.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cited an NHL club claiming Del Zotto’s reputation was “in tatters.” He believes now is the right time to “buy low” on the young rearguard and wonders why the New York Islanders haven’t pursued him. Read more
The Toronto Maple Leafs recently avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Jake Gardiner and goaltender James Reimer. Gardiner re-signed a five-year, $20.25-million contract, while Reimer inked a two-year, $4.6-million deal.
Both players were frequently mentioned in trade rumors last season. While their new deals suggest the Leafs won’t be peddling either player soon, it’s done little to fully dampen trade speculation.
Gardiner’s new deal indicates the Maple Leafs see him as part of their defense corps for the long term, but his new contract lacks a no-trade clause. Should he continue to struggle under coach Randy Carlyle, trade rumors will continue to dog the 24-year-old blueliner.