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 Detroit Red Wings made a couple of recent notable additions via free agency, signing defenseman Mike Green and center Brad Richards. Still, one Detroit sports talk show host believes there’s more to be done.
Writing for the Detroit Free Press, Jamie Samuelsen suggests Wings management try to find a taker for goaltender Jimmy Howard. Samuelsen notes Petr Mrazek proved himself as a starter during Detroit’s first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In his estimation, that makes Howard (earning $5.5 million in actual salary for 2015-16) an expensive backup.
Howard, 31, might attract some interest around the league. The Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks currently lack experienced starting goaltenders. Back in April, however, Wings GM Ken Holland said his preference was to have Howard and Mrazek battle for the starter’s job in training camp. Read more
New York Rangers center Derek Stepan was among over 20 NHL players who filed for salary arbitration on Monday. That’s raising concerns in the New York media over whether the Blueshirts can afford to re-sign him.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Buffalo Sabres’ recent signing of center Ryan O’Reilly to a long-term contract worth $7.5-million per season ruined any hope the Rangers had of re-signing Stepan to a deal between $6.2 million to $6.5 million. Ryan Kennedy, however, points out O’Reilly’s contract has no bearing on Stepan, as in the eyes of arbitration, their status is different. Read more
With a shallow free-agent pool quickly becoming drained of talent, former Carolina Hurricanes winger Alexander Semin could see his stock improve among teams in need of scoring depth.
The 31-year-old Semin comes with baggage. He has a reputation for indifferent play, which led to his recent buyout by the Hurricanes. His woeful 19-point performance in 57 games last season was the worst of his NHL career, and certainly not worthy of a player who was earning a $7-million annual cap hit.
However, Semin has also tallied 513 points in 635 NHL games, reaching or exceeding 20 goals in seven of his 10 NHL seasons. NBC Sports’ Jason Brough suggests the now-former Hurricane has the potential to pay off on a cheap, short-term contract. A report out of Russia claims Semin isn’t interested in joining the KHL and hopes to land a one-year contract with an NHL team. Read more
The Kevin Shattenkirk trade speculation that surfaced during the recent NHL draft gained momentum during the opening day of free agency. Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the defenseman’s agent denied claims his client was being shopped, but it did little to quell the rumors.
It remains to be seen how the speculation will be affected by the Blues recent trade of winger T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals. If they’re still fielding inquiries about Shattenkirk, Rutherford suggests the 26-year-old blueliner’s contract could be the issue. Shattenkirk has two years left on his deal at an average cap hit of $4.25 million. The Blues already have considerable long-term contracts invested in blueliners Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. Rutherford notes they won’t part with Pietrangelo, while Bouwmeester’s struggles last season could hurt his trade value. Read more
On the eve of the 2015 NHL free agent period, here’s a look at the latest speculation involving the notable UFAs.
Mike Green: Considered by most observers the best player available in this summer’s UFA market, the 29-year-old Green should attract interest from several clubs. Among the suitors could be the Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers. The Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika included Green on his list of possible free-agent targets for the Stars.
Alexander Semin: He enters the UFA market following a contract buyout by the Carolina Hurricanes. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press wonders if the Detroit Red Wings could have interest in the 31-year-old winger. Semin’s a right-handed shot, a commodity the Wings currently don’t have enough of on their roster. Read more
NHL unrestricted free agency begins on July 1, but the thin market for available talent has teams considering better options via the trade market.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa is garnering considerable interest. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports 10 teams are looking at the 34-year-old blueliner who has a year left on his contract at a cap hit of $4.6 million. Friedman also claims Bieksa was nearly dealt to the San Jose Sharks, but after a week of talks the deal fell through before the draft.
The Canucks have just over $6.1 million in cap space for 2015-16 and must shed salary for other potential moves. Given the interest in Bieksa, the Canucks could ship him out before the free agent market opens. Failing that, they could gauge interest from clubs that failed to land the few decent UFA defensemen currently available. Read more
Among the interesting rumors to emerge prior to the start of the 2015 NHL Draft weekend was the suggestion St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could be available. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson noted the high payroll being taken up by Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester was behind the Shattenkirk speculation.
At the time, Matheson was wondering if the Blues could trade the 26-year-old Shattenkirk to the Edmonton Oilers for the 16th overall pick. That deal, of course, didn’t materialize, as the Oilers shipped that pick to the New York Islanders as part of a deal for young blueliner Griffin Reinhart. Still, Matheson’s conjecture could raise questions over Shattenkirk’s future with the Blues. Read more
The 2015 NHL draft saw its share of trade activity involving established NHL players. Among the notables to change teams were Dougie Hamilton (Boston to Calgary), Milan Lucic (Boston to Los Angeles), Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado to Buffalo) and Carl Hagelin (Rangers to Anaheim). Even the rights of all-but-retired defensemen Flyers Chris Pronger was moved as part of a swap that also saw Nicklas Grossman shipped from Philadelphia to Arizona for Sam Gagner.
Despite this unusually high volume of players traded, several others who’ve been frequent fixtures in the rumor mill remain on the market.
On Friday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported multiple source claiming the Pens were interested in Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari reports Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner was on the Pens’ list of trade targets. Read more