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.
This off-season will provide an interesting test for Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports Chiarelli already has over $57.5 million tied up in 15 players for 2015-16. Should the salary cap increase to $71 million, it will leave less than $14 million to re-sign or replace key players.
Topping the list is defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is coming off his entry-level contract. Based on his breakout performance this season (42 points in 72 games prior to a recent upper-body injury), the 21-year-old Hamilton will be due a substantial pay raise. Read more
As another dreadful season draws to a close for the Edmonton Oilers, speculation is growing over possible off-season roster moves.
Goaltending depth could be an issue, as backup Viktor Fasth is a UFA in July and isn’t expected to return. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Oilers could be among three teams (the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs being the others) with potential interest in Anaheim Ducks goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.
As the Ducks could be a budget team, Friedman notes they could keep their current goalie tandem intact for another season. However, if they have another early playoff exit, he thinks Andersen or Gibson could be moved in the summer. Read more
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi reports Flyers GM Ron Hextall doesn’t believe he needs to make many off-season moves. Hextall claims there won’t be a massive turnover, though Carchidi notes the Flyers have limited cap space this summer unless they can shed some salaries.
Topping the list of those who could be moved is unhappy forward Vincent Lecavalier, who has three years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. Lecavalier, 34, has been largely consigned to fourth-line duty this season when he hasn’t been a healthy scratch.
A report in the Philadelphia Daily News suggests the Flyers’ first preference is to trade Lecavalier. With $12 million of his $22.5 million already paid out, the veteran center could be attractive to small-market clubs. A buyout is an option, though it would cost the Flyers $1.75-million annually in dead cap space for the next six seasons. Lecavalier could also retire, though that’s not an option he considers palatable. Read more
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch lists the San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames “and possibly” the St. Louis Blues as teams that could seek goaltending this summer.
Free agency is one reason these clubs could be shopping for depth between the pipes. San Jose’s Antti Niemi, Buffalo’s Anders Lindback, Edmonton’s Viktor Fasth and Calgary’s Karri Ramo are eligible to become unrestricted free agents in July. If they test the market they’ll have to be replaced. Read more
Though there’s over two weeks remaining in the NHL regular-season schedule, it can’t end soon enough for the moribund Toronto Maple Leafs and their disappointed fans. The Leafs have slid to 27th overall, entering Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers having won only six games since Jan. 1.
The National Post’s Michael Traikos reports attendance at the Air Canada Centre has declined to the lowest levels in the arena’s 16-year history. For the first time since 1972, Hockey Night in Canada booted the Leafs off a recent Saturday-night telecast.
Toronto fans are left wishing for the Leafs to win the 2015 NHL Draft lottery and the right to select future NHL superstar center Connor McDavid. Pundits, meanwhile, continue to speculate over which members of the current Leafs roster won’t be around when training camp opens in September. Read more
With Viktor Fasth seemingly assured of departing via free agency in July, the Edmonton Oilers will be in the market for someone to share the goaltending duties with Ben Scrivens.
In recent weeks, there’s been speculation over Cam Talbot‘s future with the New York Rangers. Talbot, 27, has a one-year contract beyond this season and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2016. Despite his stellar play filling in for the sidelined Henrik Lundqvist, there’s no way Talbot will supplant “King Henrik” as the Rangers’ starting goalie. Read more
Since last season, the Dallas Stars’ fortunes have risen or fallen based upon the goaltending of Kari Lehtonen. In 2013-14, Lehtonen’s solid performance (33-20-10, 2.41 GAA, .919 SP) was instrumental in the Stars reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The 31-year-old’s struggles this season (30-14-10, 2.87 GAA, .906 SP) put the club’s playoff hopes on thin ice.
It’s also prompted some questions over Lehtonen’s future in Dallas. There’s been speculation Stars GM Jim Nill could consider finding a more reliable starter, but replacing his current one (who’s earning $5.9 million annually for three more seasons) won’t be easy. Lehtonen also has a partial no-trade clause. Read more
Despite considerable speculation this season over forward Ryan O’Reilly‘s future with the Colorado Avalanche, the 24-year-old was not among those on the move at the recent trade deadline. While he’ll finish this season with the Avalanche, it remains to be seen how long he’ll remain in Colorado.
O’Reilly’s $6-million annual cap hit and eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July 2016 makes him a frequent subject for trade rumors. The Denver Post’s Terry Frei praises O’Reilly as a well-respected and terrific two-way player who could be the final piece of the championship puzzle for an elite team but notes the decline in his production makes it difficult to justify his expensive salary. Read more