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: What will the Maple Leafs do with Joffrey Lupul?

Lyle Richardson
Joffrey Lupul (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

TSN.ca’s Kristen Shilton recently listed five questions the Toronto Maple Leafs must still address this summer. Among them was what to do about right winger Joffrey Lupul.

The oft-injured Lupul, who turns 33 in September, has two seasons left on his contract at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million. He also carries a modified no-trade clause. Shilton wonders if the Leafs will ride out those remaining seasons, package Lupul in a trade, or try placing him on long-term injured reserve.

While the Leafs successfully dealt away supposedly untradeable players such as Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson, Lupul won’t be easy to move. His trade value is low and few teams can afford his cap hit.

The Leafs could try shipping him off to a club with lots of cap space and no notable restricted free agents to re-sign, such as the Carolina Hurricanes ($16.7 million in cap room) or the New Jersey Devils ($13 million). However, these teams are all above the salary-cap minimum of $54 million and aren’t facing any pressure to take on another contract.

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Rumor Roundup: A closer look at a potential Nash-for-Shattenkirk trade

Lyle Richardson
New York Rangers' Rick Nash

St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk remains the focus of off-season trade chatter. Much of it links the 27-year-old blueliner to the New York Rangers.

During a July 29th live chat with his readers, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch acknowledged the speculation of the Blues shipping Shattenkirk to the Rangers for left winger Rick Nash. He didn’t dismiss the possibility of this deal taking place.

Rutherford notes the Rangers need to replace departed D-man Keith Yandle. He also cites Nash’s ties with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, and the winger’s skills and veteran experience could help the Blues.

Given Nash’s $7.8-million annual salary-cap hit over the next two seasons, Rutherford believes the Rangers would have to retain some salary. He also suggests other players would have to be involved to make the deal work.

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Rumor Roundup: Barrie’s signing sees Landeskog, Duchene back in rumor mill

Lyle Richardson
Nathan MacKinnon (center) and Matt Duchene (right) (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

On Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche avoided an arbitration-awarded contract with defenseman Tyson Barrie. They re-signed him to a four-year, $22-million deal worth an average annual value of $5.5 million.

For several months, Barrie’s contract status with the Avalanche generated considerable speculation about his future in Denver. Trade rumors linked the 25-year-old with the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.

While Barrie’s new contract should bring that trade chatter to an end, teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene have resurfaced in the summer rumor mill. Read more

Rumour Roundup: Red Wings and Lightning may need to make trades to become cap compliant

Lyle Richardson
Ben Bishop and Ryan Callahan

The Detroit Red Wings avoided arbitration this week with defenseman Danny DeKeyser and goaltender Petr Mrazek. DeKeyser, 26, inked a five-year, $30-million contract, while the 24-year-old Mrazek agreed to a two-year, $8-million deal.

These deals, however, push the Wings above the $73 million salary-cap ceiling by over $4.2 million. MLive.com’s Brendan Savage reports GM Ken Holland doesn’t expect forwards Johan Franzen ($3.9 million) and Joe Vitale ($1.16 million) to play this season because of ongoing concussion symptoms. The two are expected to be placed on long-term injured reserve.

Joining them could be forward Teemu Pulkkinen ($812,500), who is recovering from recent shouder surgery. With their combined salaries on LTIR, the Wings should be cap compliant when the season begins.

Holland could also be active in the trade market leading up to the season opener in October. NBC Sports’ Jason Brough reports the Wings have a surplus of forwards, noting Holland’s recent wish to acquire a top-three defenseman.

Earlier in July, trade rumors linked the Wings to St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk and Anaheim’s Cam Fowler. Wings forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar surfaced as possible trade candidates, though Holland is apparently reluctant to part with either.

To land Shattenkirk or Fowler, however, could require a good young winger as part of the return. If Holland won’t give up Nyquist or Tatar, he’ll have to consider more affordable, less-talented trade options. He could also wait for a better deal to emerge over the course of the season.

The Wings aren’t the only club that could face the challenge of getting under the salary cap before October. After re-signing center Vladislav Namestnikov to a two-year deal worth over $1.9 million per season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have $6.5 million in cap space. With right winger Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Nikita Nestorov still to re-sign, getting the pair under contract could exceed the $73-million ceiling.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman remains confident he’ll get rising star Kucherov under contract this summer. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times suggests Nashville Predators left winger Filip Forsberg (six years, $36 million) as a comparable.

Yzerman said he doesn’t have to make a salary-dumping deal before re-signing Kucherov and Nesterov, but acknowledged his need to become cap compliant before the season begins. Smith speculates center Valtteri Filppula, who’s under contract for two more years at an annual cap hit of $5 million, as a trade candidate.

Recent speculation also suggested goaltender Ben Bishop ($5.9 million with a full no-movement clause), right winger Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million, no-movement) or defenseman Braydon Coburn ($3.7 million, full no-trade clause) as trade options. Filppula, however, has a modified no-trade clause, making him easier to shop.

TAVARES INTENDS TO STAY WITH ISLANDERS

Steven Stamkos re-signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning put an end to speculation the Markham, Ont., native would return home and join the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some Leafs followers, however, are now looking ahead to the summer of 2018, when Mississauga-born John Tavares of the New York Islanders is eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Appearing Tuesday on Sportsnet 590, Tavares chuckled when asked about the possibility of playing for the Leafs. While acknowledging his connection to Toronto, the 25-year-old Islanders captain said not to count on his joining the Maple Leafs. He maintained his commitment to remain with the Isles.

Of course, anything can happen over the next two years. The Islanders efforts to build into a Stanley Cup contender could stall. Tavares could become disenchanted with the club’s direction. While the club’s new ownership is willing to spend to the cap ceiling, contract talks with Tavares could prove unexpectedly difficult.

However, it’s worth remembering there was talk of Tavares bolting the Isles prior to signing his current contract in 2011. At that time, the Isles were still among the league’s worst clubs, but he remained committed to improving the franchise. Should they continue their recent improvement, there’s little reason to believe he’ll depart the Islanders for the Leafs in 2018.

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.).

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Rumor Roundup: Oilers not done trying to shop Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Lyle Richardson
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Throughout 2015-16, Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a fixture in the NHL trade rumor mill. Entering this off-season, the 22-year-old was considered the Oiler most likely to be dealt this summer, preumably for a top-four defenseman.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli pulled a swerve, however, shipping Taylor Hall in late June to the New Jersey Devils for blueliner Adam Larsson. Since then, the Nugent-Hopkins speculation has cooled.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson notes the trade chatter had the young center linked to Colorado Avalanche blueliner Tyson Barrie and Minnesota Wild rearguard Matt Dumba. With the Wild signing free agent Eric Staal, Matheson suggests they’re likely no longer in the hunt for depth at center.

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Rumor Roundup: The latest on the remaining notable UFAs

Lyle Richardson
Kris Russell. (Getty Images)

The number of NHL unrestricted free agent signings slowed to a trickle since the opening-day frenzy on July 1. Over the weekend, defenseman Luke Schenn became the most recent notable player to ink a new contract, reaching an agreement with the Arizona Coyotes on a a two-year, $2.5-million deal.

Several notable players remain available in the UFA market. Among those yet to land new contracts are defensemen Kris Russell, James Wisniewski and Kyle Quincey and forwards Jiri Hudler, Radim Vrbata, Sam Gagner, Brandon Pirri and Matt Cullen.

Sportnet’s Luke Fox recently reviewed the status of the top remaining UFAs. He noted Russell, 29, was linked earlier this month to the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks. However, it’s since been reported the Leafs made no offer to Russell and had no interest in him.

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Rumor Roundup: Trading Yakupov won’t be easy for Oilers

Lyle Richardson
Nail Yakupov (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Throughout last season, Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov was frequently mentioned as a potential trade candidate. Entering this off-season, speculation persisted the 2012 first-overall draft pick would be dealt at some point.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli was certainly busy in recent weeks, shipping left wing Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson and inking free-agent winger Milan Lucic. As speculation persists over other possible moves by Chiarelli, forwards Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are mentioned as possible trade chips.

Yakupov, however, scarcely received mention until earlier this week. On Tuesday, Sun-Sentinel.com’s Harvey Fialkov took to Twitter to shoot down a rumor claiming the Florida Panthers might deal defenseman Alex Petrovic to the Oilers for the young Russian forward. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Shattenkirk possible target for Rangers after Brassard trade

Lyle Richardson
Kevin Shattenkirk (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

After weeks of anticipation, the New York Rangers finally made a significant roster move this summer. On Monday, they dealt center Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in 2018 to the Ottawa Senators for center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second-round selection.

In shipping out Brassard’s $5-million annual average salary through 2018-19 for Zibanejad’s $2.65 million in 2016-17, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton freed up an additional $2.35 million. He can put that toward re-signing a restricted free agent forward such as Chris Kreider or Kevin Hayes. He could also use it to his roster via trade or free agency.

Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News speculates Gorton could use the savings to acquire St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He could then re-sign the blueliner, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, to an extension worth $6-million annually. Leonard also wonders if Kreider could be swapped for Shattenkirk before the winger’s arbitration date on Friday. Read more