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 departures since last summer of Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators prompted ESPN’s Craig Custance to suggest Bobby Ryan could be next to leave town. Custance notes Ryan, 27, is entering the final season of his contract at an affordable cap hit of $5.1 million. He becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen recently reported the Senators opened contract talks with Ryan and fellow 2015 UFAs Clarke MacArthur and Marc Methot. Of the trio, Ryan will be the most difficult to re-sign.
The rebuilding Senators took a step back in their development last season, Ryan’s first with the club. The loss of Spezza via trade and Ales Hemsky to free agency makes Ryan their top scoring forward. How the Senators perform this season could influence his future plans.
Another factor will be Ryan’s asking price. He’ll have a golden opportunity to cash in via free agency, where he could be the best available player. It could cost the budget-conscious Senators more than $7 million per season on a six- to eight-year deal to keep Ryan in Ottawa. Read more
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes the Rangers should get busy re-signing defenseman Marc Staal. The 27-year-old blueliner is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. His cap hit for this season is $3.98 million.
Barring another concussion for Staal, Brooks believes the blueliner could command at least a six-year deal worth $5.5 million annually. If the Rangers don’t believe Staal’s worth that much, Brooks recommends investigating his trade value.
The Carolina Hurricanes could be among the clubs willing to pursue Staal via trade this season or free agency next summer. Brothers Eric and Jordan are already on the Hurricanes roster. Perhaps the addition of Marc could provide extra incentive for Eric – whose contract expires in 2016 – to sign an extension next summer. Read more
The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are featured prominently in an otherwise quiet NHL summer rumor mill. Both teams face moving players before the new season begins in October, though for different reasons.
For the Bruins, it’s dealing with a surplus of defensemen. The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin reports they’re carrying nine NHL-caliber blueliners in Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Warsofsky.
GM Peter Chiarelli stated several times this summer he can’t go into the season carrying that many defenders. Though Chiarelli is in no hurry to address the problem, Benjamin believes one or two players will be shed by October.
One option could be demotion, as Benjamin suggests Warsofsky could spend another season with the Bruins farm team in Providence. A trade is also possible, with Boychuk and Bartkowski as candidates.
Former New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur remains available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti recently reported Brodeur spoke with Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay about their backup jobs, but both clubs went with other options.
Gulitti also reports Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan confirmed on June 28 his club expressed interest in the future Hall of Famer as a backup for Jonathan Bernier, but said at Brodeur’s age (42) “it’s really about fit”. The Leafs still hold the rights to James Reimer, who has an arbitration hearing slated for July 28 unless he and the Leafs reach an agreement on a new contract.
The NHL’s salary arbitration hearings begin Monday, July 21 through Aug. 1 in Toronto. While 23 hearings were scheduled (20 player-elected, three club-elected), as of July 15 four players – Boston’s Matt Bartkowski, Dallas’ Cameron Gaunce, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Ottawa’s Derek Grant – avoided arbitration by re-signing with their teams. Another, St. Louis’ Vladimir Sobotka, has jumped to the KHL.
Most NHL arbitration cases never reach an arbiter, as players often re-sign with their teams before the hearing takes place. It’s a process both sides prefer to avoid. It’s ego-bruising for the player as management makes its case over why he’s not worth the salary he seeks. Management subsequently risks losing that player to unrestricted free agency once his arbiter-awarded contract has expired.
In most cases, arbitration is used as a negotiation tactic by both sides. For the player and management, it establishes a deadline toward reaching a new contract without negotiations dragging on into training camp and pre-season. When a team takes a player to arbitration, it’s also to prevent him from receiving an offer sheet from a rival club, except for a five-day window from July 1-5.
With the Chicago Blackhawks needing to shed salary before the regular season begins, NBC Sports’ Mike Halford wonders if they could turn to their pipeline with the Florida Panthers.
The Blackhawks currently sit $2.2 million over the $69-million cap for 2014-15. With their recent re-signings of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, they have more than $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16. Assuming the salary cap for that season jumps to $75 million, the ‘Hawks will have less than $10 million to re-sign or replace potential free agents Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Marcus Kruger.
Halford notes the Blackhawks in recent years dealt Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen to Florida. That’s largely because Panthers GM Dale Tallon is also the former GM of the Blackhawks and had a hand in bringing most of the aforementioned to Chicago before he moved on to the Panthers.
In the short term, the Blackhawks could peddle Oduya ($3.38 million) or Leddy ($2.7 million) to become cap compliant for 2014-15. TSN radio host Jason Gregor reports of speculation Oduya could be the likely trade candidate. To free up more cap space for 2015-16, however, they’ll have to ship out a player on a longer-term contract.
Halford noted the recent trade rumors swirling around winger Patrick Sharp, who’s signed through 2017 at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. While Sharp’s agent vehemently denied the speculation, Halford suggests the 32-year-old winger could interest Tallon, who’s seeking an experienced sniper. Tallon brought Sharp to Chicago in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06. Read more
Another month, another rash of Evander Kane trade speculation. The 22-year-old winger’s recent comments during a radio interview once again raised questions over his future with the Winnipeg Jets.
“Well, I think I’m a Winnipeg Jet now,” Kane told Vancouver’s The Team 1020, acknowledging the trade rumors dogging him since arriving in Winnipeg three years ago. He added “we’ll see what happens” and he’ll carry on “as if I’m a Winnipeg Jet.”
Despite having four years at an annual cap hit of $5.25 million remaining on his contract, Kane appears doubtful he’ll remain with the club for the duration. It’s the second time in as many months he’s raised eyebrows over his status with the team. Prior to last month’s NHL draft, the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe reported Kane favorited a tweet by a Flyers fan calling upon his team to acquire the young winger.
Toronto Maple Leafs fans hoping for their club to make a big splash in this summer’s trade market are likely to be disappointed. The Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno believes the rest of the summer will be a quiet one for the Leafs.
DiManno speculates the “small-beer” moves made by Leafs GM Dave Nonis – signing Stephane Robidas and Mike Santorelli via free agency, swapping Carl Gunnarsson for Roman Polak, bringing back Leo Komarov and Matt Frattin – could be his only significant ones this off-season. She also claims no one’s calling about Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf or unhappy backup goalie James Reimer, and she rejected talk of Martin Brodeur signing with the Leafs as mere rumor.
If DiManno is correct, that also means center Nazem Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner – fixtures in last season’s trade rumor mill – will also return with the Leafs for 2014-15. That means the only Leaf facing an uncertain future is defenseman Cody Franson, who (along with Reimer) was among 20 NHL players to file for salary arbitration. Nonis reportedly offered up Franson to the Montreal Canadiens in a failed bid to acquire Josh Gorges, who nixed that move. Read more