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 Thornton and Marleau bid the Bay Area farewell?

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

During the summer of 2014, there was considerable trade speculation regarding San Jose Sharks’ veteran stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. The Sharks were still reeling from their opening-round playoff elimination by the Los Angeles Kings. General manager Doug Wilson promised significant changes, stoking the rumors Thornton or Marleau would be dealt.

The trade chatter about the duo fizzled out when both made it clear in media interviews they weren’t waiving their respective no-movement clauses. With the Sharks going on to miss the playoffs this season, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz speculates over the possibility Thornton or Marleau will be part of a blockbuster move this summer.

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Rumor Roundup: Would the Capitals, Penguins or Islanders trade for Patrick Sharp?

Patrick Sharp. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

While the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their latest Stanley Cup championship, GM Stan Bowman will begin the difficult task of determining which of his players become salary-cap casualties. The Blackhawks have more than $64 million invested in cap payroll for 2015-16. They must re-sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger, as well as find space to re-sign or replace their unrestricted free agents.

This isn’t the first time Bowman’s faced this problem. Following the Blackhawks 2010 championship, he shipped out several salaried players to become cap compliant for the following season. While he doesn’t have to trade as many this time, he’ll still have to make the difficult choice of determining who must move.

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Rumor Roundup: Will Cam Talbot be the answer in Edmonton, Buffalo or San Jose?

Cam Talbot (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)

Earlier this week, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that sources claim there’s considerable interest from several clubs in Rangers backup Cam Talbot. It’s expected Talbot, who turns 28 in July, could be traded by the upcoming NHL draft in Florida.

Brooks didn’t specify which teams are pursuing Talbot, but TSN’s Darren Dreger lists the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres among the suitors. Dreger claims the Oilers, Sabres and Sharks are “pretty eager”, while the Flames, Panthers and Stars have “some interest.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that Talbot’s attracted so much attention. His solid performance filling in for sidelined Henrik Lundqvist in February and March suggests he has the capability to become a full-time NHL starter. He won’t get that opportunity with the Rangers.

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Rumor Roundup: Kessel trade talk heating up entering draft weekend

Lyle Richardson
Phil Kessel (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Stanley Cup playoffs finally over and the NHL Draft weekend (June 26-27) drawing near, speculation continues to grow over possible trade destinations for Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel.

The 27-year-old right winger has a limited no-trade clause listing eight teams he will accept being dealt to. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reminded everyone those teams were Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh leading up to the March 2015 trade deadline.

Recently, there was talk of the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues Florida Panthers or Calgary Flames possibly pursuing the Leafs star. None of them were on his list. McKenzie suggested the Leafs could ask Kessel to broaden his list if they receive strong offers from other clubs. He also speculated Kessel could submit an updated list at the end of June.

The inclusion of the Bruins on Kessel’s list prompted CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty to examine the pros and cons of bringing him back to Boston. Considering the seven years remaining on Kessel’s contract (at an annual cap hit of $8 million), that’s far too rich to fit on the cap-strapped Bruins payroll.

NBC Sports’ Jason Brough raises the possibility of Kessel making it difficult for the Leafs to move him, pointing out all the clubs on his preferred trade list carry limited cap space.

RANGERS PLANNING MOVES THIS OFF-SEASON?

The lack of goaltending depth in this summer’s free-agent market is boosting the trade stock of New York Rangers backup Cam Talbot. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cites “well-placed sources” claiming there’s significant interest in Talbot. The 27-year-old goaltender starts a one-year, $1.45-million contract for 2015-16 and becomes eligible next July for unrestricted free agency.

David Staples of the Edmonton Journal cited a rumor out of Ottawa claiming the Oilers could part with the 16th overall selection in the upcoming draft for Talbot. The Oilers certainly need depth between the pipes so it’s no surprise they’re linked to the Rangers backup in the rumor mill. However, Staples considers parting with such a high pick an overpayment for Talbot, who has yet to establish himself as an NHL starter.

If the Rangers shop Talbot, they could face competition in the trade market from the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks. The Sens could move Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner, while the Canucks could deal Eddie Lack or Jacob Markstrom for second- or third-round picks.

Speaking of the Rangers, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (cited by Today’s Slapshot) wondered if the Buffalo Sabres might take a run at acquiring right winger Rick Nash. Friedman admits, however, he’s not 100 percent certain the Sabres will make that move.

Sabres GM Tim Murray might be aggressive, but Nash simply isn’t a fit with his club. Though the 31-year-old’s full no-movement clause becomes a partial no-trade clause on July 1, Friedman notes Nash still has control over potential trade options. Going from a two-time Conference Finalist to a rebuilding club probably won’t be to Nash’s liking.

CANADIENS LIKELY TO SHED SALARY

On Monday, the Montreal Canadiens re-signed center Torrey Mitchell to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual cap hit of $1.2 million. Over the weekend, they also re-upped defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to a two-year deal with a $1- million average annual salary.

Those signings pushed the Canadiens cap payroll in 2015-16 to over $66.4 million. That increases the likelihood GM Marc Bergevin could shed salary via trade in the coming weeks.

Bergevin still has yet to re-sign RFA forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Flynn. With the cap projected to rise to $71 million, that won’t leave much room to re-sign those two while still leaving space for other additions as required.

Sportsnet’s Eric Engels notes the Habs have over $28 million invested in defensemen, suggesting one of them could be moved. Engels cites Tom Gilbert (one year left on his contract at a cap hit of $2.8 million) or Alexei Emelin (three years remaining, $4.1-million annual cap hit) as possible trade candidates. Forward options could include Tomas Plekanec (one year left, $5 million), David Desharnais (two years, $3.5 million annually) or Lars Eller (three years, $3.5 million per).

Plekanec and Emelin could fetch the best returns, but both are carrying no-trade clauses. They could be asked to waive them, but finding suitable trade destinations could be difficult. Eller might also interest GMs willing to gamble that a change of scenery might do him good.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks will have to get creative to re-sign Saad

Brandon Saad

Chicago Blackhawks left winger Brandon Saad is garnering favorable reviews for his performance in this year’s NHL playoffs. Entering Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 22-year-old Saad’s eight goals ranks him among the Blackhawks leading post-season scorers..

Factor in Saad’s solid regular-season numbers and it’s clear the Hawks have a rising star on their hands. It’s also increased the possibility he could receive an offer sheet in the off-season.

Saad, 22, is coming off an entry-level deal and lacks arbitration rights. Blackhawks management obviously intends to re-sign him, but with over $64 million tied up in cap payroll for 2015-16 they won’t have enough to ink Saad, re-sign RFA forward Marcus Kruger and replace their departed unrestricted free agents. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is Phil Kessel a fit with Flames, Blues or Panthers?

Phil Kessel (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s claim last Saturday the Toronto Maple Leafs were getting trade inquiries for Phil Kessel, there’s growing speculation over where the 27-year-old scorer could be dealt.

If a Kessel trade happens, Friedman believes it will be a couple of weeks before it takes place. That’s likely because the NHL draft weekend (June 26-27), where many off-season trades generally take place, is fast approaching.

Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer who twice reached the 80-point mark, has value on the trade market. His contract, however, is a sticking point. He has seven years left at an annual cap hit of $8 million. Factor in the projected marginal increase in the cap ceiling for 2015-16 from $69 million to $71 million and it could prove difficult for the Leafs to find a suitable deal.

Friedman subsequently appeared on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central panel to discuss potential destinations for Kessel. He notes Predators GM David Poile had interest in the Leafs right winger, but doubts Nashville is a destination now, pointing out it has young stars like left winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Seth Jones to re-sign the following season. Other destinations could include the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames.
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Rumor Roundup: Dougie Hamilton deal one to watch for Bruins

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

Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton is coming off an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights, but that might not prevent him from getting a significant raise this summer. The Bruins limited cap space for 2015-16 and the lack of depth in this summer’s UFA pool could see the 21-year-old blueliner receiving a lucrative offer sheet from a rival club.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa speculates the Hamilton camp could use the threat of an offer sheet as leverage in contract discussions with the Bruins. He suggests a team like the Edmonton Oilers, who are deep in young talent but lacking skilled blueline depth, might be willing to sacrifice a compensation package of draft picks to successfully sign Hamilton away from the Bruins. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kessel, Malkin and Nash in new locales next season?

Rick Nash. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The days leading up to the NHL draft, which this year is June 26-27, are typically when the most off-season trade activity takes place, so it’s no surprise some big names are resurfacing in the trade rumor mill.

Of these, few are bigger than Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin. During an appearance on Sportsnet 960 The Fan in Calgary, Elliotte Friedman said there were rumblings around the league over Malkin’s growing unhappiness with the Penguins.

Friedman suspects season-ending comments from team president-CEO David Morehouse (claiming Malkin, captain Sidney Crosby, coach Mike Johnston and GM Jim Rutherford would return next season) were meant to address that speculation. He doesn’t know if the Penguins intend to trade Malkin, and with the club about to go up for sale, doubts such a move occurs until that’s completed.

Reactions to Friedman’s remarks were swift. Malkin’s agent, J.P. Barry, told Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he was puzzled over the origin of these rumors, claiming they weren’t coming from him or his client. Pittsburgh sportswriter Dejan Kovacevic claimed Friedman’s information was erroneous, citing Malkin’s season-ending remarks expressing his happiness living and playing in Pittsburgh. Friedman subsequently backtracked from his remarks.

Given the Penguins decline in recent years, it’s understandable if Malkin feels frustrated over the club’s direction. However, his public comments and those of his agent aren’t suggestive of someone who might welcome a trade. Even if he did want out, the upcoming sale of the team certainly would make it difficult to fulfill that wish. Even if Penguins management wanted to move Malkin, his full no-movement clause complicates that option.

MAPLE LEAFS GETTING CALLS ON KESSEL

Friedman also reports a handful of teams spoke with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the recent NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo regarding their asking price for right winger Phil Kessel. He believes if a trade happens it probably won’t take place for at least a couple of weeks. That’s likely because NHL teams are waiting to find out what the salary cap will be for 2015-16.

Over the second half of this season, the 27-year-old Kessel was a frequent subject of trade speculation. He has seven years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $8 million plus a partial no-trade clause. It’s believed the Leafs wish to move him for a return of younger, more affordable assets.

Despite criticism over Kessel’s conditioning and defensive play, he’s reached the 30-goal mark five times. He’s led the Leafs in scoring every season since joining the club in 2009. There is a market for a player of his offensive skills.

Kessel’s salary, however, could be a sticking point. Two-thirds of the NHL’s 30 clubs have cap payrolls in excess of $55 million for ’15-’16. Of those, 13 have payrolls over $60 million. With the salary cap projected to modestly increase from $69 million to $71 million, that doesn’t leave many clubs with the cap space to comfortably absorb his contract. To consummate a deal, the Leafs could be forced to pick up part of Kessel’s salary.

NASH’S TIME UP IN NEW YORK?

A week after the New York Post’s Larry Brooks floated the notion of the New York Rangers trading winger Rick Nash to shed some salary, TSN’s Bob McKenzie weighed in with his thoughts on the Rangers exploring the possibility of trading their 30-year-old leading scorer.

McKenzie notes the Rangers’ limited salary-cap space for 2015-16 and their need to re-sign restricted free agent center Derek Stepan and left winger Carl Hagelin. He notes that Nash, who has three years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $7.8 million, still has a full no-trade clause. However, it will become a partial NTC on July 1.

With a cap payroll of $59.5 million for 2015-16, it could cost the Rangers over $9 million in combined salary re-signing Stepan and Hagelin. That won’t leave much room to re-sign forwards center J.T. Miller and right winger Jesper Fast, let alone sufficient space to replace pending UFAs Martin St-Louis and James Sheppard.

If trading Nash isn’t an option, Rangers management will have to prune elsewhere. One option could be moving out one of their defenseman. Dan Boyle, who has a year left on his contract at $4.5 million, seems a likely candidate. However, the 38-year-old’s best seasons are behind him and he carries a no-movement clause.

STAMKOS EXPECTED TO RE-SIGN LONG TERM

What would the early-June rumor mill be without trade rumors regarding one of the Stanley Cup finalists? And no, we’re not talking about the cap-strapped Chicago Blackhawks.

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons recently took note of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos’ limited ice time during the playoffs. He suggests Stamkos isn’t a favorite of Lightning coach Jon Cooper and wonders if that might force the 25-year-old superstar to reconsider re-signing with Tampa Bay.

Stamkos is an unrestricted free agent next summer so his future with the Lightning will obviously be a topic of interest. However, considering the Bolts’ status as a Cup contender, there’s little reason why Stamkos would want to seek greener pastures. Unless his contract talks become contentious, it’s expected he will re-sign an expensive long-term extension.

DEFENSEMEN WILSON, HEJDA OUT IN COLORADO

The Colorado Avalanche have six NHL-ready blueliners under contract for next season and, according to the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers, the club looks ready to part ways with defensemen Jan Hejda and Ryan Wilson.

While it’s not the most fearsome roster of blueliners, the Avalanche have Erik Johnson, Brad Stuart, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden, Nate Guenin and Zach Redmond locked up through at least 2015-16. With nearly $11 million remaining under the salary cap, Colorado could dip into the free agent pool to solidify their top six and use a current blueliner as a depth option.

This past season, the Avalanche were in the bottom third of the league in goals against. If they can improve their defensive play, they can make strides in 2015-16.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.