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.
Monday was locker clean-out day for the 14 NHL teams that failed to qualify for the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was also time for some general managers and players to field questions from the media regarding their off-season plans.
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin attempted to squelch recent trade rumors about defenseman P.K. Subban. The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey reports Bergevin said he’s not shopping the 26-year-old superstar or other core players such as goaltender Carey Price and left winger Max Pacioretty.
Bergevin, however, didn’t state that Subban is untouchable. With the blueliner’s no-trade clause kicking in on July 1, his name could resurface in the trade rumor mill by late-June. TSN analysts Darren Dreger and Jamie McLennan suggest Bergevin is merely keeping his options open. While acknowledging he could listen to offers, both doubt that Subban’s going anywhere this summer.
With the NHL regular season completed, the fate of several coaches whose clubs failed to reach the playoffs is a hot topic of discussion. Much of the focus is upon Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins.
Since joining the Bruins in 2007-08, Julien’s guided them to four division titles, a Presidents’ Trophy in 2013, two Stanley Cup Finals and a championship in 2011. Over the past two seasons, however, the Bruins fell short of the playoffs. Their recent failure has some in the Boston media calling for a coaching change.
If Julien is let go by the Bruins, he won’t be unemployed for long. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests the Ottawa Senators could come calling if they decide to drop bench boss Dave Cameron. Read more
Steven Stamkos’ recent vascular surgery comes as a blow to the Tampa Bay Lightning entering the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. With a recovery time frame of one-to-three months, the 26-year-old might not return in time to help the Bolts in the post-season.
Given Stamkos’ UFA eligibility in July, his lengthy convalescence creates more uncertainty over his future. The Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly suggests Stamkos may have played his final game in a Lightning jersey.
TSN’s Gary Lawless doesn’t expect Stamkos’ surgery will scare away free-agent suitors or reduce what could be his expensive asking price. It’s expected he’ll make a full recovery from the procedure. Lawless wonders, however, if this will have an effect upon Stamkos’ future plans, and those of the Lightning.
Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene’s celebration after scoring his 30th goal of the season during a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues didn’t sit well with Avs coach Patrick Roy. With the club’s playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Roy’s criticism of Duchene’s actions during a post-game presser is once again giving rise to questions over the 25-year-old’s future in Colorado.
A slow start to the season by the Avs and Duchene resulted in the latter’s name surfacing in the rumor mill last November, linking him to the Ottawa Senators. As his play heated up, however, the speculation petered out by early-December.
Over the weekend, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman created a stir by reporting a source claiming Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk could return to Russia following this season.
Datsyuk, 37, is apparently making this decision for family reasons. He has a year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $7.5 million, which Friedman points out would remain on the Wings’ books because he was past his 35th birthday when he signed the deal.
If Datsyuk decides to finish his playing career in Russia, Ken Campbell suggests offloading his contract to a team in need of reaching next season’s salary-cap minimum, like perhaps the Arizona Coyotes. The Wings could use the freed-up cap room to pursue Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos via free agency in July.
Once the bulk of this summer’s major NHL trades and free-agent signing are completed by mid-July, expect the big question in the rumor mill to be, “Where will Jimmy Vesey go?” Vesey, a left winger out of Harvard and a Nashville Predators draft pick, informed the latter earlier this week of his intention to become an unrestricted free agent on August 15.
The 22-year-old’s decision caught the Preds front office by surprise. GM David Poile said he had every indication Vesey was coming to Nashville, suggesting the youngster received bad advice. Assistant GM Paul Fenton told Sportsnet 590 Vesey confirmed in February he was signing with the Predators. As a result, they apparently decided not to pursue a playoff rental player.
As another lost season winds down for the Edmonton Oilers, significant roster changes could be coming in the offseason. Expect right winger Nail Yakupov to be among the first on the trade block.
Since the Oilers selected Yakupov first overall in the 2012 NHL draft, he’s struggled to play up to lofty expectations. Frequent coaching changes, lineup shuffles and constant losing haven’t help the 22-year-old’s development.
Leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, there was speculation suggesting Yakupov could be dealt. On Monday, the Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis cited a report in a Russian sports outlet indicating Yakupov requested a trade prior to the deadline. The winger attempted to downplay the report, but didn’t deny his agent approached Oilers management about a trade.
Poised to miss the NHL playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, some changes could be coming to the Arizona Coyotes. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk the Coyotes slow rebuild doesn’t bode well for GM Don Maloney. Garrioch claims the belief is somebody in the ownership group wants to speed things up, noting the club will have money this summer to invest in additions through trades and free agency.
It’s unfair, however, to blame Maloney for the pace of the rebuild. A change in ownership, uncertainty over the Coyotes future in Arizona and a payroll well below the league’s salary-cap ceiling hampered his efforts. Indeed, he’s done a good job restocking the roster with promising youth via trades and the draft. It seems unlikely that ownership will ditch him now.